Did you know that every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a heart attack? One of the most important lifestyle modifications you can make to reduce the risk of developing heart disease is to include regular exercise, which can be hard to fit into a busy life. The average American sits for more than half his or her waking day.
The JHU Office of Human Resources wants to remind employees that sitting at your desk may be good for your job, but studies show that prolonged sitting not only leads to poor posture but is also a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Growing evidence shows that taking frequent breaks from sitting can lower health risks for chronic diseases. So, try breaking up your sitting with a five-minute walk every hour. Or, if you can't leave your desk, standing for just two minutes every 20 minutes.
Looking for ways to add some movement at work? Here are some suggestions for simple, low-key exercises to try at your desk. Stand up and try the following stretching exercises:
- Pectoral stretch. Clasp hands behind head. Pull shoulder blades together and elbows back. Repeat two times.
- Wrist flexion. Gently apply force with left hand to stretch the right wrist toward the underside of the right forearm. Hold for three to five seconds, relax, and repeat with other side. Repeat five times on each wrist.
- Wrist hyperextension. Gently apply force with the left palm to bend the right hand backward. Hold for three to five seconds, relax, and repeat five times for each wrist.
- Hug. Bring arms across chest, trying to touch as far around the back as possible. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat with the other arm on top.
- Head tilt. Slowly bend head to the right as far as possible, then to the left, then forward (with chin against your throat), and then to the back. Repeat two times in each direction.
The human body was meant for movement, and the muscle activity needed for standing and moving drives the breakdown of fats in the body. Sitting too long causes fats to accumulate and increases health risks. Worried that your co-workers might ask what you are doing? Spread the word. Share these exercises and help stop the sitting.