Most Americans lead highly sedentary lives. It’s how our society is built – we sit in schools or work in offices and then come home and sit some more. Unfortunately, sitting can take a toll on our health in ways that go well beyond backaches from poor posture or a little eye strain.
If you’re spending a lot of time working at a desk, particularly if you’re looking at a screen, try integrating these simple behaviors and see how you feel. It is possible to get everything done without compromising your health, but it will require making some changes.
Check Your Breathing
There is a strange, but little-known phenomenon that happens when we look at screens: we actually hold our breath. Known as screen apnea, the behavior may be causing you to feel more tired and distracted, disrupts your nervous system, and causes systemic, inflammatory stress that can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Because we do this automatically, though, most of us don’t notice the behavior. By practicing mindful breathing and generally being more attentive to your breath during the day, you may find that you’re more productive and feel better at the end of the day.
Mind Your Eyes
As mentioned above, many people experience eye strain when spending a lot of time at the computer, and though this may be worse for those with vision impairments, it impacts everyone.
Take care of your eyes by getting regular eye exams, checking the lighting of your workspace, using eye drops, and wearing blue light blocking glasses while at your computer. It’s also helpful to take a break every twenty minutes or so to look at a spot further away and let your eyes rest for a moment.
Manage Your Meals
If you’ve settled into the routine of a job, it’s usually pretty easy to figure out a meal plan that works for your lifestyle, but this can be a lot harder if you’re suddenly spending a lot more time on sedentary tasks like studying.
For example, if you’re busy with prep before your CPA exam, cooking is likely the last thing on your mind – but really, it should be more of a priority now than it is during more typical times.
Ensure you’re still eating a nutritious, energizing diet when you’ve got your nose to the grindstone by keeping healthy snacks and water close by and always starting the day with a complete, balanced meal.
You might also pre-prep some simple meals and snacks like sandwiches or salads that you can eat while you work, though it’s even better if you can take a break and practice a short period of mindful eating.
Practice Good Posture
It’s unsurprising that a lot of young people have terrible posture, but the issue is getting worse as people of all ages spend more time at computers and on smartphones. There’s even a condition known as tech neck that’s caused by bending your head over your screen all of the time.
Using an adjustable laptop stand to position your computer and ensuring you have a comfortable and supportive chair can help you maintain good posture and reduce back and neck pain, as well as prevent headaches.
Headlines can be excessively dramatic about the dangers of sitting sometimes, but the fact is that it’s not good for your health – and not so much because you’re sitting, but because of all the other issues that come along with this sedentary behavior.
By integrating better self-care and stress reduction practices into a somewhat sedentary life, though, you can reduce many of these risks.