Diabetes and the Desk Job: How to Beat the Odds

If you’re reading this while at work, chances are you’re sitting down. Eighty percent of jobs are either completely sedentary or involve a very light amount of activity (no, typing does not count). And unfortunately, all that sitting between nine and five is doing a number on your health. Being sedentary all day long leads to a higher risk for serious health problems, including diabetes.

It isn’t just a small increase in risk. Studies show that sitting for too long can double your risk for diabetes. The connection isn’t just because you’re burning fewer calories, which can lead to weight gain. When you sit, enzymes in your muscles change in a way that increases blood sugar levels. And what’s even scarier is that hitting the gym before or after work isn’t enough to fix the problem.

So what will actually help? While experts don’t know specifically how much time you need to stand to lower your diabetes risk, they all agree that getting on your feet and walking more throughout the day is crucial. A good goal to start with is to stand up for two minutes every 20 minutes you sit. If you’re watching TV at home, it’s easy to get up every commercial break to put something away or even exercise. But at work, squeezing in movement can be a little tougher. Here are a few easy options:

  • Walk over to a colleague’s desk to chat instead of just calling him or her
  • Take the long way whenever you get a glass of water from the kitchen
  • Set up your computer to print to a printer far away or on another floor
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Download an app like Healthier, which will remind you when it’s time to take a break from your computer
  • Ask for a standing desk (standing burns an extra 50 calories an hour than sitting)

For other ways to stay healthy at work, check out these blogs:

Photo credit: vasilis

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