I get plenty of exercise at the office—dodging deadlines, jumping into conversations and running away from my boss.
Sounds like you? Unfortunately, that doesn’t count as exercise.
The Pitfall For S’porean Office Workers
Last year, it was reported that Singaporeans are one of the hardest workers in the world. Nearly half the population does traditional in-office work, clocking an average of 45.6 hours a week.
Studies show that for every 30 minutes we sit down, at least 8-10 of those minutes should be spent standing and walking around. But most of us rarely heed this advice, sitting for long hours at a time.
While just sitting around sounds harmless, the truth is that doing so is very, very bad for our health.
How Sitting Down at a Desk for Too Long is Bad
Scientists have shown that our vital bodily functions, like our heart and respiratory system, function best when we are upright, standing or walking around. Sitting down for too long is unnatural and can lead to a number of health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Anxiety and depression
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Stiff neck and shoulders
In fact, doctors have been going so far over the recent years so to compare sitting to smoking!
What Can You Do?
In this video, physiotherapist Chiu Wai Leong from Ng Teng Fong General Hospital shows a few easy ways busy office workers can stay fit despite long working hours.
If the video wasn’t enough, here are his tips, in easy categories:
Chiu recommends fitting light cardio into our daily work routines, such as taking the stairs to the office or the MRT instead of the lift or escalator. Try standing from your chair and talking short walks from your desk once in a while.
A desk also makes a great support for exercises such as pushups. You can also hold on to your desk to do some simple side leg lifts.
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At home, household chores make for a great workout, so don’t skive on those!
Neck and Shoulders
Often when sitting at our desk, we tend to hunch over and stick our chin out without even realising it. This increases the weight of our skulls on our spine by up to five times. This can cause chronic pain, herniated disks and pinched nerves.
To counter this, Chiu recommends that every once in a while, you tuck your chin inwards slightly forming a double chin with a slight nod and draw your shoulders towards your spine.
He also recommends light neck stretches.
Working hard to earn money and survive in this super competitive economy doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your health!
What Else Can You Do
Beyond fitting light exercise into your daily routine, here are small things that make a big difference to your health in the long run.
- Ensure your office chair is at the right height to prevent back and leg pain and injuries. Both your feet should be able to rest flat on the floor.
- Get at least 30 minutes of sun a day.
- Eat a healthy diet: at least 50% of it should be comprised of leafy greens and fruits.
- Drink sufficient water: Keep a mug or bottle of water beside you that you can sip from all day long.
- Maintain healthy social connections.
Stay healthy, everyone!
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