Have you become less active during COVID? Since the onset of the pandemic, millions of Americans have become more sedentary. According to the American Psychological Association, 42 percent of adults have gained weight during COVID, at an average of 29 pounds. With 36.5 percent of Americans obese and another 32.5 percent overweight, additional “COVID weight” further increases the risk for heart disease, diabetes, joint pain and arthritis.
A recent study found that the biggest challenge for desk workers is the lack of physical activity. Long periods of sitting affects joint and spine health, flexibility, posture and mobility. As you sit, the hip muscles progressively tighten from being hinged for long periods of time. Exercising after work is not sufficient to relieve tight hips, an aching back and sore shoulders. It is essential to find ways to remain active throughout the day.
How to Increase Activity During the Work Day
Taking regular breaks throughout the day can prevent health problems from unnecessary eye strain to joint stiffness, and chronic pain in the shoulders and neck. More important than how you move is how often you move.
Here are ten ways to stay active during your workday, even if you have a desk job:
- Add steps to your commute—Get your body moving before the workday begins. Do you live close to your job? Try walking or riding your bike. If you take public transportation, get off at an earlier stop to walk a few extra blocks.
- Park far away from the door—Try parking at the top of the parking garage or finding a space that is farthest from the front door of the office.
- Sit on an exercise ball—An exercise ball is perfect for strengthening the core and the lower back. Sit in the ball during breaks, or use a headset and take calls while sitting on the ball.
- Choose an active commute—Try to get some exercise before your workday even begins. If you live close to work, walk or bike to your job. If you ride a subway or bus, try getting off at an earlier stop to walk a few extra blocks to work.
- Alternate sitting and standing—For every 30 minutes of sitting, stand for five minutes. It is even better if you can walk around during those five minutes.
- Take the stairs—When you have the choice of taking the elevator or the stairs, choose stairs. Let everyone else wait in line for the elevator while you get in some extra steps.
- Get a standing desk—There are so many options for standing desks and even treadmill desks. You can take conference calls or answer emails while moving your body.
- Elevate your feet—Do you feel heaviness in your legs and feet? Elevating your feet on a bench, ottoman or stool can be very helpful. You could even take a break, lie down and elevate your legs against the wall.
- Keep some fitness gear in your office—Consider keeping a fitness ball, resistance bands or even small, handheld weights in your office so you can do some strength training or stretching during a break.
- Join a fitness center near your work—Instead of eating lunch, grab your gym bag and do a mid-day workout.
Call Your Orthopedist to Treat Joint Pain
Staying active is essential for your physical and mental health. If you are experiencing chronic pain, there is an underlying cause. Your orthopedist may have some treatments to reduce your pain, or it may be time to discuss total joint replacement.
You don’t have to live with joint, back or neck pain. Call today to get relief.