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Wendy Shafranski


October 31, 2023

This One is for All You Desk Jockeys

If you are a long-time reader of my emails, you know the benefits of moving regularly all day and the impact of NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) on your metabolism.

A big barrier to getting a bunch of steps per day is sitting, something many of us do at work, in the car and at home.

  • The average American sits 6.5+ hours per day, and office workers up to 15 hours.
  • Prolonged sitting increases low back pain and impairs cognitive function.
  • 50% of US adults report a musculoskeletal (MSK) condition, costing $380B in healthcare.
  • Sitting can even “undo” the exercise you do.

You can visually see the downside of too much sitting - next time you’re at the grocery store or airport, look around at people’s postures and head position. Many tend to be forward instead of maintaining a neutral spine. This can cause a whole host of MSK issues.

So, what the heck do you do if your job requires you at a desk all day?

  • If you can, take a break from sitting every 30-60 minutes. Walk for five minutes or do some mobility exercises.
  • Stand while talking on the phone.
  • Try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter. I started using a standing desk way back when I worked in marketing. My company wouldn’t buy me one (they were super expensive at the time), so I propped my desk up on blocks…GAME CHANGER in the way my body felt. THIS is a good lower-cost option to a standing desk.
  • Walk with your colleagues for meetings rather than sitting in a conference room.

There are also lots of mobility exercises you can do to combat sitting. If you notice that your posture is suffering, try things like chin tucks and standing wall slides. If your hips feel tight, incorporate the 90-90 hip, lizard and hip flexor stretches. Low back pain? The McGill Big Three and cat cows can help. Devise a mobility routine and spend 5-10 minutes each morning and evening doing it…believe me, it will help!

While those of us still working can’t get away from desk work, we can incorporate some strategies to combat the negative effects of sitting.

Don’t spend most of your day on your butt!

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