This entry is for all of my fellow artist, designers, technical & creative friends that sit at a desk all day (or even for those couch potatoes that site all day for whatever reason). There are a lot of health risks from us doing this, a lot of statistics say that we are shaving off several years of quality life, that our chances of heart disease has increased by 64%, and that we are more at risk for certain cancers.
Because of the many people I know in the art / design / technical / vfx industry sit 6-15 hours a day, whether it be from your desk chair or driving or sitting to enjoy your coffee, we spend a lot of time sitting, so we are literally “sitting our lives short”. There are so many blogs and statistics that are thrown at us about how unhealthy it is and how detrimental sitting for long periods of time.So many that we may scare ourselves to death quicker than the sitting will.
This will not be one of those entries, do the research a little at a time on what the effects are. But for now, we have a few ways to help prevent these health risks from taking years off our lives, as well as being a pain our asses.
1. Stand once an hour, more often if you can. Believe me I know how it is to be in the zone, and hours go by without you knowing that you have been sitting doing that work. Here are a few tips on how you can make some efforts to stand more often:
Set a timer/alarm on your pc, for every hour, or sooner, the more often the better.
Drink a lot of water, which is the healthy choice, but coffee, energy drinks, etc. will fill your bladder as well. This, in turn, will make you want to get up and go to the bathroom.
Modify your workstation so that it will be easy to work sitting or standing and alternate every hour. If you have to do something physically to modify things, that means you are moving around, which is even better for you.
Things to do while you are standing:
Clean your desk or workstation, if you clean as you go during the day, you end up with a clean area at the end of the day, and return to one the next work day.
Walk to get your drink, whether it be the office refrigerator or coffee pot, or grab one at the cafe down the street, catch up on gossip at the water cooler, if you work at home enjoy your drink outside on the balcony, patio or front porch, and stand while you drink.
The image for this entry shows some stretches you can do at your desk. Print it out and place it in view of your sitting position, as a reminder to get up and move around, some are even sitting positions.
2. Get at least 30-40 minutes of physical activity a day. It does not have to be a continuous 30 minutes, you can break this up however you would like to. I know working out and exercise is hard, especially with busy schedules, deadlines, family and whatever else life throws at us. So make the physical activity a part of your life and you are more likely to be successful at achieving the goal of more physical activity. Here are a few tips on how you can do that:
When getting ready in the mornings / evenings play music that will get you in the mood to move. Shake your booty while you brush your teeth and hair. Do this also when you are doing chores around the house, boogie while you are putting those dishes away, and save a dance for that vacuum or mop.
Park farther away when you park, so you have a little more walking under your belt for the day. (Side note for motivation: Get a pedometer and set a goal on how many steps you want to take daily, set that goal higher weekly or monthly).
When making phone calls, stand up and walk around, if you are in a cubicle or office move around in your small space.
Send your message in person. In the office if you need to send a message to someone, get up and walk over to them, instead of emailing or texting.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you are on the 12th floor take the elevator only half way up and walk the other half and try to do a weekly / monthly goal to add a floor.
Walk to lunch. If there are local areas that you can have lunch, walk to the locations. If you bring lunch, then walk to a park bench or outside your building and enjoy people watching while you eat.
Make it a family affair. Spend family time, taking a walk or bike ride.Or play a boot camp game or soldier game that entails marching and push-ups.
Use your commericals as cues, when watching t.v., get up and grab a drink or if you love the ads, then do jumping jack or march in place while you watch them.
Make it fun. If you do have time to add an activity, do yoga, swim, golf, bowl, take up dance lessons or a martial art. Turn your hobbies into physical activities go shopping for your craft supplies instead of ordering them online, or become a mall walker.
3. Be ergonomic with the seats you have to spend hours in. In our home office we have an ergonomic kneeling chair with rollers, a fitness ball chair with rollers as well as an adjustable office chair. Every 30 minutes we get up and switch seats with each other, after we do our stretches, grab a drink and take potty break. We also have desks that have adjustable heights so we can go from sitting to standing very easily.
I am not saying go out and buy all these things at once. But, gradually buy things that will make your workstation more comfortable. The amount of time that we are sitting in these items, even with adding breaks and all the little changes, is still a big portion of our day, so you might as well be comfortable.
Hopefully this entry helps to prevent the many health problems that can occur and “save our asses” from losing quality years of our lives.