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Healthy Habits for Singles, Part 6: Being Active at Your Desk Job

Many of us Christian singles have desk jobs: work that involves sitting on our blessed assurance most of the time, whether we’re in a call center, working face-to-face with customers across some counter or in front of a computer. A 2013 survey by Ergotron highlights the epidemic of sedentary jobs that has taken over the American workforce. They found that 86 percent of Americans spend most of their work day sitting, but 70 percent of them hate it.

The scientific community has even coined a term to address all the medical problems that come with a sedentary lifestyle that includes hours of sitting at work: sitting disease. A sedentary lifestyle usually results in obesity from a metabolism lowered by long-term inactivity. Here is a long list of other symptoms that accompany sitting disease:

  • Poor posture.
  • Back and spinal injuries.
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Repetitive use injuries (think: carpal tunnel and iffy surgeries).
  • Increase of fatal diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and blood clot risk.
  • Lack of focus and energy.
  • Loneliness or depression.
  • Rheumatic disorders.
  • Early, preventable mortality (that’s death, y’all!).

The worse part is, most studies on sitting disease found that exercise outside of work did not reduce the harmful effects! What!? You have got to be kidding me.

Sorry, it’s true: Working out two hours in the gym will not mitigate against the effects of 7.5 hours sitting at work, plus an hour commuting to and from work, plus 3.5 hours sitting to eat/watch television/watch movies/talk on the phone/text/drive. I sat a lot when I worked at a desk job, which was most of my adult life, and worked out at the gym three to four days a week. Now, as a writer, I still work out three to five days a week, and, apparently, I am still in trouble with sitting too much!

Well, we don’t want to set our lives up to where, when we finally meet Jesus, He’ll say, “Well, all that sitting made your homecoming faster, but you could have stayed longer.” What’s the solution when our really busy jobs require so much sitting?

1. Think about Who you belong to and Who you represent.

Remind yourself that you are responsible for this temple, this temporary tent, that you were given to live in. You can’t treat it any old way just because you’re going to get the new, eternal model once you leave this planet. And think about how to make the most efficient use of your time at work.

2. Start off small and make realistic demands of your whining flesh.

Don’t create goals like, “I’m going to lose 25 pounds this month!” or “I’m going to take the stairs up to my ninth floor office every day from now on!”

3. Make sure your workstation is ergonomically adjusted.

Pay attention to what is correct for your height, weight and types of tasks and activities you must conduct there all day. Don’t slouch if you have to use the telephone or computer all the time; sit with good posture. You can find a lot online; find out more info on good posture in the workplace.

4. Partner with work friends. 

Find out if any of your coworkers feel the same as you (even colleagues who aren’t Christians can agree they may also spend too much time sitting!). See if any of them might want to join you in a team to combat office inertia.

5. Find creative ways to be more active.

And get moving. Park farther from your building when you arrive and take the long way to your office or work station. Stand up and stretch or take a walk between customers or clients. Don’t phone or email your coworker down the hall, get up and go ask them your question face-to-face. Try to have an occasional “walking meeting” instead of your regular sitting-in-a-chair meeting. Use some of your breaks and lunches to walk or stretch, whether alone or in groups. Take the stairs instead of the elevator for at least one or two flights. Stand up when you take a phone call. Learn more fun tips on exercising while on the clock.

The autumn and winter holidays, with all their holiday celebrations and yummy treats, are on their way to you. Start the fight against sitting disease now so you and your coworkers can power your way through the holidays and conquer the beasts by January!

I myself will be standing up to stretch again as soon as I save this article.

About Glenda Gordon

Glenda Gordon, MSW, has had a lifelong ministry to single Christians. Whether as an activities coordinator, church counselor, or workshop facilitator, she loves to serve and teach Christian singles. When she’s not in church, she loves writing and photography, to get outdoors into nature, read real books, travel, play with other people’s pets, explore, bake, do holiday crafts, go dancing, eat out and work out. She writes a weekly blog for single Christians called, “For Single Christians: One is a Whole Number.”
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