Get On Your Feet…Get Up and Make it Happen!
Listening to NPR this week, I heard a story on the dangers of too much sitting,” Sitting All Day: Worse For You Than You Might Think” that reminded me of Baby Boomer, Gloria Estefan’s great song, Get On Your Feet. So many of us have sedentary jobs and/or we come home from work (whether required to perform physical labor during the day or not) and then sit for the rest of the evening. Dr. Steven N. Blair, a professor of exercise science, epidemiology, and biostatistics at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health, has conducted research that shows that even individuals who exercise regularly during the week may be at greater for heart attacks than those that have less sedentary habits throughout the day. Dr. Blair warns, “If you’re sitting, your muscles are not contracting, perhaps except to type. But the big muscles, like in your legs and back, are sitting there pretty quietly.” Dr. Blair goes on to say that such sedentary behavior can lead to slower metabolism and health problems.
Coincidentally, in the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times dated May 1, 2011, the Business Section included an ad supplement entitled, “Stress, Inc.” that emphasized the effect of jobs on one’s overall health, and how stress in particular can wreak havoc on our bodies resulting in headaches, back and neck pains, anxiety, lightheadedness, and a loss of sleep and energy. In the section on “Desk doldrums,” the article points out the health risks of workers whose jobs primarily require sitting in front of a computer monitor for most of the day. For some, overcoming work related ailments requires employing some of the simple suggestions below. Others may need to think about a career change that offers more physical movement. You might wish to consult the Library’s copy of J. Michael Farr and Laurence Shatkin’s 175 Best Jobs Not Behind a Desk for advice on alternate career opportunities.
The NPR story also referenced Dr. Toni Yancey, professor and co-director of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity at the University of California, Los Angeles and author of the book, Instant Recess. Dr. Yancey advocates taking routine breaks during a full day of sitting. Here are a few ideas she suggests to help break the sitting cycle:
- Park further away from where you work, shop, study, play, and/or worship
- Take the stairs instead of an elevator
- Place printers a short distance away from work or study spaces
- Fidget, stand up, and stretch at intervals during meetings
- Take a 10 minute activity break at a scheduled time every day
There is a short video accompanying the story that demonstrates how to take some of the simple actions above.
In the Library world, most of us that work public service desks spend a great deal of time on our feet answering questions and directly interacting with the public. Getting up from behind a desk to show someone how to use a library resource or find their desired book, CD, or DVD is a common occurrence. However, after hearing the radio piece, I started thinking of other ways to force myself to get up and move about at my workplace, such as drinking at least 3-4 glasses of water per day. The drinking fountain requires a little trip from my desk and water is much more beneficial than loading up on coffee or soda, my typical guilty pleasures. I also will be offering to deliver items to fellow workers that are located on another floor or in a nearby building.
In thinking about your workplace and daily activity level, what are some steps you might take to insure you are providing your body with needed movement and muscle tone? Please share your ideas with our readers and comment below.