If there’s one thing we all wish we had more of, it’s energy. Ever watch a three-year-old make laps around every piece of furniture in the house and wonder where they get that energy? And how to bottle it and sell it? I don’t know where they get the energy, either. Makes me tired watching them. But I do know that energy begets energy.
In scientific terms, everything is energy, in some form, and the production of energy actually requires energy. Big energy, like a fire, requires small energy inputs, like fuel and a spark.
The same is true for our own physical energy. If you want more energy, you actually need to expend energy to get it. Resting won’t give you more energy, though it is a requirement in defined increments to recharge your energy. No, you need energy to create energy.
For many people, that doesn’t mean hopping off the couch and taking a spin class. If you’ve been less than physically active for a while, say ten years, then you need to take practical, but careful, steps to become more active. Last week I suggested taking opportunities to walk more. Take the stairs. Park farther from the door. Those are great opportunities to get extra exercise into your day. Did you check out the pedometers to track your steps? Otherwise, you might over-estimate the number of steps you actually take. In this heat, it’s easy to feel like that 200 steps was a mile.
The first rule of improving your health is to be honest about where you are and how much you really do, good and bad, that contributes to your situation.
Now, consider how much you sit each day. Probably a lot. You sit to drive. You sit to work. You sit to eat and watch television. I know I have evaluated attending events by the comfort of the seating arrangements. Don’t lie, you have, too. For many years that was more a requirement than a choice. Due to muscle and joint pain, I couldn’t stand for long, and even sitting was painful if the chairs were hard or too tall for my short legs. Thankfully, I am mostly past that stage. I can now stand for much longer periods, though not indefinitely. And while uncomfortable seating can still send my back into spasms, I recover with some quick stretches, instead of a day with a heating pad and muscle relaxers.
Another easy way to work in some physical activity without rocking your world too much is standing to work. If you work at a desk, standing desks are all the rage now. I have several clients who use desks with a lift. They can adjust them to sit or stand during the workday. It’s actually pretty cool. They all report that it increases their productivity and improves their posture. No leaning over to check one email. No sitting for long periods of time. No fidgeting to stay awake after a heavy lunch.
There are many health benefits to standing while working. The extra energy used to stand burns more calories and helps lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. It also improves circulation and reduces back pain. One study suggested that reducing sitting time by 66 minutes per day resulted in reducing neck and back pain by 54% in the participants. They also reported improved moods during the work day. Maybe sitting too much is what makes customer service reps so surly when you talk to them at the end of the day.
Additionally, a study in Queensland, Australia, found that workers using standing desks showed lower stress levels in the afternoon which resulted in improved productivity during the day.
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There are many flavors to the standing desk.
This ApexDesk Vortex standing desk has a touch button control to raise and lower it to your preferred height. The pneumatic lift is quiet and smooth. This is the style I would go for if I were buying a new desk. It’s really that great.
This standing desk has a lever-controlled lift, which is easy to lift and lower, as well.
Now, if you have a perfectly good desk that you want to add a lift to, then this platform is perfect. It raises the monitors and has a tray for the keyboard and mouse. A lever raises and lowers the desk easily.
Besides the standing desk, you should consider a few other things to improve the comfort of standing while working. First, your shoes. Even my clients who are shoe queens keep a pair of comfortable flats under their desk to slip into when they are standing at their desk. This probably doesn’t apply to men, but it might.
Another item to consider when using a standing desk is a floor mat. Standing on a hard surface all day can create a certain amount of stress on joints, but a floor mat will help.
This terrain map gives you a little variety in how you stand, especially if you’re a little fidgety.
This butterfly-shaped textured mat offers massage points for tired feet.
Or you can go with a basic anti-fatigue mat. We have one of these in our kitchen, and I move it around to wherever I’m working. It makes all the difference when I’m cooking all day.
Don’t overlook any area where you could boost your activity level. Each small step toward better fitness can reap big rewards over time. Walking and standing more and sitting less are great ways to gradually improve your health.
Got any suggestions for adding activity to your day? Please leave a comment to share with all of us.