by Jeannine Re McNamara, RDN

This is the age of technology, where information is available to us at the click of a button.  Where the majority of jobs, as well as much of our free time, is spent sitting in front of a computer screen, with limited physical activity.

Unfortunately, sedentary “desk” jobs can be detrimental to your health, couple that with our fast-paced, stressful lives and long work hours and boy, are we in trouble!  Sitting at a desk all day can lead to such ailments as weight gain, obesity, poor circulation, back problems and poor posture, neck and shoulder pain, weak legs and stomach muscles, Deep vein thrombosis/blood clots in the legs, varicose veins, cardiovascular disease, diabetes,  and cancer, and even increase the risk of anxiety and depression from being stuck in one spot all day.  Studies have shown that a desk job can shorten a person’s life span.

So, what can a person do to avoid the health risks of their desk job?

Here are a few suggestions: 

1. Get up and move around at least a few minutes every hour.  Stand up and stretch, walk around the perimeter of your office, or even walk outside and come back in after a few minutes.

2. Include 30 minutes of regular exercise into your day, be it after work at the gym or even walking around your work neighborhood during lunch.

3. Conduct discussions and short meetings with coworkers while walking rather than sitting in a conference room. If you make phone calls to clients, do so while standing to adjust your point of view and refresh your body.

4. Be sure to have healthy snacks available so you can avoid munching on high-calorie foods while sitting. Examples include: nuts, fresh vegetables like carrots and celery, fresh fruit such as apple slices, orange segments, grapes, low-fat cheese, and a few whole-wheat crackers

5. Keep water or low-calorie drinks such as unsweetened iced tea, seltzer or mineral water available to maintain hydration.

6. Make sure your desk is set up ergonomically to avoid back, neck, leg, elbow and even eye strain (see diagram below).

7. Use the desk/chair exercises below, throughout the day to avoid stiffness in areas of your body such as legs and back.

Workstation Set Up