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The damage from spending 8 plus hours at your desk cannot be offset with an hour at the gym every couple of days.

Yay you!

So you have started going to the gym every day. That is amazing. And a great start towards getting healthier. Is it enough though? Some people have said that sitting is the new smoking. While excessive (8 hours or more) sitting increases the risk of premature death and some chronic diseases by 10-20%, the risks of smoking are still greater. I will not compare the financial impact of a person, or the health risk factors to smoking, I do want to talk about why we can’t sit so much.

Reasons to get up and move.

Risk factors of sitting for long periods at a time include obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, abnormal cholesterol levels, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and a higher incidence of cancer.

Weight loss is a side effect of healthy lifestyle choices.

It is important to remember that doing things for weight loss and doing things for health are not the same. There is a lot of overlap, however, your focus is going to be one or the other. You have probably heard me say before, weight loss is a side effect of healthy lifestyle choices. Both weight loss and overall health are reasons to not sit for 8 hours straight at your desk.

Move away from the desk.

The first time to prioritize getting away from your desk is lunch.  One survey found that North American employees who take a lunch break every day reported higher engagement based on metrics including job satisfaction, productivity, and likelihood to recommend working there to others (read more here). It is as important for your physical health as it is for your mental health.

Let’s talk about attention spans.

When it comes to work and productivity, everyone has an attention span for a task. The time can be anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. I encourage you to determine your time frame. Set an alarm to go off at that interval. If you have time, take a 5-minute walk around your office. If you’re in the middle of a meeting, can you stand and stretch? Or at least take a moment to focus on your posture?  Finding time to stretch your legs, and reset your sitting posture will go a long way in your healthy lifestyle.

Calories, calories, calories.

When you calculate caloric intake, after you figure out your basal metabolic rate, you use the Harris-Benedict formula to determine your multiplier. The more active you are, the higher your caloric intake. The more sedentary you are, the slower your metabolism, and the lower your caloric intake for the day. Now that you are taking lunch away from your desk, and getting up for breaks throughout the day, what’s the next step?

What can I do right now?

There are quite a few things you can incorporate into your day. I often tell people to park further from the front door, pick the stairs over the elevator, and take the long way to the conference room. These things seem small and trivial, but they do add up quick. Your non-exercise activity thermogenesis is all the little ways you create a substantial difference in your metabolism.

Another day, we shall talk about ergonomics and standing desks. Today though, you now have steps to take away from your desk. You will improve your health and raise your metabolism, which can result in weight loss. How long is your task timer set for, share in the comments below.