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Surviving the Office as an Athlete – Fighting Sitting

By Jiri Kaloc

Sitting itself is not inherently evil, but if you spend a lot of time in any position, your body will adapt to it. Unfortunately, having a desk job, driving a car to the office, and cycling all have one thing in common, a lot of sitting! Let’s go through a few strategies that will help you sit less.

Sitting has been compared to smoking in terms of its negative health effects. The problem is that your heart gets lazy when you sit a lot, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, and even diabetes, obesity, and depression. Your mobility, joint stability, and overall strength also get worse with longer sitting. So, the key is to minimize the total duration of your sitting each day and the amount of continuous sitting time.

Shift positions throughout your work day

If you work in an office, you probably need to be at your desk to get work done. The thing is, you don’t have to only sit at your desk. Standing desks that can easily change height are the solution. The point is not to stand for 8 hours per day instead of sitting, rather alternate between sitting and standing regularly throughout the day. There are also walking or treadmill desks that really don’t allow you to stay in one position, but those seem less practical for most office jobs.

If you don’t have the option of a standing desk being installed in your office, don’t worry. You can get a stability ball and swap it for your chair for a few 20-minute sessions during the day. Or if you can work on a laptop, you can buy a laptop stand that can be extended and retracted to allow you to both sit and stand at your desk while operating it.

You need a few basic dynamic stretches and strengthening exercises to keep your legs in shape during office hours. © Profimedia, Caia Image

Have a “stand up” reminder

The best thing you can do to make sure you don’t sit for longer than 60 minutes straight is to set an alarm. If you have a Garmin watch or any other fitness wearable, the functionality to track your movement is usually already there. If not, try downloading an app on your phone or use the basic alarm app. When the alarm goes off, make sure to either switch from sitting to standing if you can, or just stand up and do something. You can go refill your glass of water, take a short walk in the hall to look out of a window into distance to relieve your eyes, or do one of the mobility exercises mentioned in the first article of this series.

Move more during the work day

The best antidote for sitting in general is moving. You want to find ways to move more throughout the day, especially as an athlete. Here are a few things almost anyone can start doing today.

  • Walk while on the phone.
  • Take a walking meeting. Your colleagues might enjoy sitting less too.
  • Use smaller glasses for water so you have to walk to refill more often.
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Park further away if you commute by car, so you have to walk.
  • Take the long route if you need to run some errands.
  • Avoid sitting at home too

It can be very tempting to spend the evening in a chair or on a sofa in front of the TV, especially after a hard day at work. It is good to relax and let your body recover. But try to find different positions. Sitting on the ground on a pillow is one way to get some variety for your sitting. Your body will naturally change positions as you get sore. Or you can watch movies while on a stationary bike at home. But we will focus more on the ways to fit training into office life in the next article.

Next up in Surviving the Office as an Athlete series