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6 Ways to Make Your Desk Job Healthier

Are you sitting while you read this? Chances are, yes. Do you worry that you sit too much? Chances are, yes. More people sit for longer periods of time at office jobs than ever before and this can result in back problems, headaches and carpal tunnel. But a few simple tricks and habit changes go a long way in caring for a body that spends hours each day in a chair.

The goal is not to find and maintain one perfect position.

“The goal is not to find and maintain one perfect position. The goal is to move frequently and easily within a range of good postures,” says Lisa Prieto, a physical therapist with Sharp Memorial Hospital.

Indeed. New research presented in International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity shows that short bouts of physical activity, or microbursts, performed throughout the day can be more beneficial for improving mood, decreasing levels of fatigue and reducing food cravings at the end of the day, compared to one prolonged 30-minute bout of activity.

To help you incorporate frequent movement into your workday, Katy Bowman, a biomechanist and author of Don’t Just Sit There: Transitioning to a Standing and Dynamic Workstation for Whole-Body Health, offers a simple strategy she calls SWITCH. Check it out below, and then print and post it by your workstation. Also, consider sending yourself automated reminders to change position every 30 minutes.

SWITCH it up for better desk-job health!

  1. Stand more and sit better..
  2. Walk for three minutes every half hour to keep blood flowing smoothly. Instead of sitting in the conference room, suggest a walking meeting. Walking boosts creativity. If you want more, incorporate jumping jacks..
  3. Interval-train the eyes by taking frequent breaks to gaze out a window at something far away. The muscles in your eyes contract based on the distance between you and what you’re looking at. Keep your face backed away from the computer screen and make sure to take an extended gaze break (1 minute) every half hour..
  4. Train the feet with texture—get a pebble mat, or stand on something squishy or uneven to strengthen neglected feet. And lose the heels! Heels on shoes automatically “cast” the ankle into a smaller range of motion than your body has naturally..
  5. Calf-stretch throughout the day to help the veins in your lower leg. Take off your shoes and place the ball of your left foot on a rolled-up towel, yoga mat or half-foam roller. With the left leg straight, step the right leg forward. Keep the heel of the stretching foot on the ground. Hold for a minute, then switch legs. Repeat three times..
  6. Hang from a door frame or chin-up bar and give that upper body a release from the keyboard. Keep a slight bend in the elbows so the muscles are doing the work, not the joints.