Putting in extra hours at the office might get you ahead, but it doesn’t do much for your health. Sitting for long periods is not only bad for your spine; it also takes its toll on your cardiovascular system.
Your veins rely on muscle contractions to keep blood flowing back to your heart. Sitting for long hours prevents those muscle contractions and causes blood to pool in your lower legs. Over time, it can lead to varicose and spider veins, and other circulatory issues.
Unfortunately, long work hours are a fact of life for most desk jockeys. Luckily, there are exercises and office gadgets that can keep you healthy while you burn the midnight oil.
Stand-up desks come in a variety of styles. Some are designed to fit around a treadmill or a stationary bike so you can walk or ride, causing rhythmic muscle contractions, while you work. Others allow you to stand at your desk, causing your leg muscles to contract as you continually make micro-adjustments to maintain your balance.
There is also the adjustable desks that allow you to sit or stand as needed throughout your day. These desks can be manually adjusted using a series of levers, or there are electronic models that have motors that smoothly raise or lower the desk as needed.
The great thing about the adjustable height desk is that you can easily lower the desktop back to standard height for those times when you are entertaining clients, or are otherwise unable to raise the desk to standing level.
The Desk Cycle
The desk cycle is great for when you don’t have the room, or resources, to use a standing desk. It’s composed of a pedal and flywheel assembly that fits under your desk and allows you to pedal as if you were riding a recumbent bicycle. The wheel also has adjustable tension so you can increase or lower the resistance.
The desk cycle allows for the rhythmic muscle contractions necessary for a healthy cardiovascular system, and it also raises your heart rate to build cardiovascular and muscle endurance while you work. Like the adjustable standing desk, it also gives you the option to stop using it when necessary, because it fits snugly under your desk.
The added benefit to the desk cycle is that you can keep it out of sight when not in use, like when you are having client meetings in your office.
The chair stair climber is another variation on the desk cycle, which simulates climbing stairs instead of riding a bicycle. The movement is linear rather than cyclical, but it achieves much of the same effect as the cycle.
The Balance Ball Chair
The balance ball chair does not stimulate muscle contractions the way these other devices do, but it does strengthen your core and helps improve your posture. Normal chairs often cause you to tilt your pelvis backward and hunch your shoulders, which puts added strain on your spine causing back, neck and shoulder pain. The balance chair forces you to keep your spine in proper alignment by tilting your pelvis forward and drawing your shoulders back to maintain your balance on the chair.
For added intensity, you can combine the balance chair with the chair cycle or the chair stepper, which will force you to engage your core even more to maintain your balance while you move your feet.
Desk yoga is a series of yoga poses that you can do while seated or standing at your desk, to promote blood flow and strengthen your spine. The advantage to desk yoga is that there’s no equipment that you have to hide or adjust, and you can do it almost anywhere. However, some of the poses may require that you wear clothing that allows freedom of movement, which might be difficult with some office attire. Unlike the under-desk options, you also run the risk of being highly visible to your coworkers. However, setting aside times when the entire office participates in desk yoga sessions might solve that problem.
As you can see, having a desk job doesn’t mean you have to remain seated all day. Beyond gadgets and special exercises, you can also relieve the muscular tedium simply by getting up at regular intervals and taking a short walk around the office. However, if you have a job where that is not an option – such as working in a call center – a standing desk, an under-desk exercise device, balance ball or chair yoga can all get you moving and keep you healthy.
– Submitted by Katherine Smith