At PRI we use computers. Our computers are on a desk and we sit in front of them.
Recent news stories are revealing, yet again, the dangers of sitting for long periods of time. PRI’s work environment is not unlike most offices and certainly very much like most of our clients’ workspaces. Desks, computers, and chairs.
I wrote a blog post for Miomarmo, (an online forum PRI created for “thoughtful earth-friendly dialogue . . . and practical habits of action”) about this topic in May 2010. The research findings then weren’t much different than today’s, though they focused more on potential weight gains due to prolonged sitting. It seems the newest studies are revealing that it’s worse than we thought. As a society we know we need to get up and be more active, but the most recent findings emphasize that you cannot undo the damage of too much sitting with exercise. Working out at the gym will not erase the hours you spent sitting that day.
This is a health issue, and it’s also a work and lifestyle issue. We have a boss (most of us) and we can’t stand around, or do laps around the water cooler without the boss getting suspicious. Where can I read my emails, write, review projects—all of which are done on my computer—and still get my work done?
If you checked the link above to my May 2010 post you’ll see that I was motivated to change my workspace, and I built a 44-inch high desk. The idea was to do both standing and sitting throughout the day so I’d get more non-sitting time in while still at work. Now, a year later, I rarely sit down. I sit maybe twice in a week, for no more than a half hour. And not because I’m disciplined, I just don’t feel like sitting. It’s easier to move around, to reach for things, you can pace while on the phone . . . it’s just easier.
If you want to try it: At first I had to do a lot of stretching and had some lower back soreness at the end of the day. I eventually adjusted my stance by allowing more of an arch in my back and tightening my hips, abs, and leg muscles without making them rigid (I talked to a yoga instructor) and any aches and pains were taken care of. I don’t know how long it took, but one day I just realized I didn’t sit while working anymore.
But, if this sounds completely nuts to you, here are some other things you can incorporate into your day to get you out of your seat:
- Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of writing an email.
- Take the long way to the copy machine, bathroom, etc.
- Sit on an exercise ball (uses more muscles).
- Stand up while on the phone.
- Spend part of your lunch hour walking.
- Put books and documents you reference regularly on the other side of your office.
Begin by paying attention to the length of time you are sitting, and develop your own set of alternatives. Let us know what you come up with .