By now you’ve read or heard one or more of the reports about the negative health impact of sitting hunched over a computer all day. No? Here’s one from the Mayo Clinic and here’s another from Lifehacker.
While many in the medical profession seem content to pass out pills to treat symptoms, there’s growing evidence that many of the most commonly “treated conditions,” such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and even blood sugar related conditions such as diabetes are linked to sitting for long periods of time each day.
This doesn’t even take into consideration the double whammy that being overweight adds to the mix.
Several new business books have been written on the topic, including one by this week’s guest on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast Tom Rath. Tom is the author of several incredibly popular business books, such as Strength Finder 2.0 and is also a lifelong sufferer of a rare disorder that led him to fight cancerous tumors his entire life.
Tom decided to write Eat, Move, Sleep – How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes to address many of the practices he has adopted, literally as a way to save his life, and address the epidemic of work related choices that are killing us all.
In Eat, Move, Sleep Rath links the need to move at work (even if you’re a serious workout type), eat like you’re fueling a high performance engine and get sleep like it mattered.
Rath cites the now famous K Anders Ericsson study that found elite performers logged more than 10,000 hours of deliberate practice in order to achieve elite status. While some might conclude this simply means working longer and harder the study also found that these elite performers slept on average 8 hours and 36 minutes a night. The average American sleeps about 6 hours.
The book is one of the best collections of somewhat common knowledge packaged in a way that addresses eating right, moving more and sleeping more in the proper context without hype and fad.
Several years ago I was diagnosed with a host of disorders that got my attention. Instead of taking the pill route I changed my eating habits dramatically and made exercise a daily priority.
While these have definitely made a big difference in my quality of life and health I still have an ongoing battle with the fact that most days I sit for a living.
Over the last couple of years I’ve added a number of daily practices and tools to combat what I think is one of the greatest health challenges many entrepreneurs and business owners face.
Below are some of my office movement routines and habits.
Timed breaks – I’m a big fan of working by the hour. I plan my day around 45 minute bursts followed by 15 minutes of moving and recharging. I force myself to get up and walk the dog or just stretch. I use the Apimac timer on my computer but if you find this too hard to do consider the TimeOut app that takes over your computer until you take a break.
Phone meetings – I do a fair amount of meeting by phone. When I jump on a call I immediately put on the headphones and pace up and down the office during the entire call.
Different chairs – Since I do a lot of work on the computer I do need to be stationary for long parts of the day. In addition to a pretty ergonomic chair I sit for periods on an Isokinetics exercise ball chair that works glutes, core and lower back automatically and I recently added a FitDesk stationary bike to the mix. That’s the one in the image with this post. By the way I’ve tried several standing options, but I like the bike better for some reason.
Exercise equipment – We keep a few weights and such around the office so that during my hourly breaks or on trips to get more water I’m reminded to do a set of kettleball swings. It’s a amazing what a little burst of exertion does for my creativity.
Foam roller – I’ve really gotten hooked on using a foam roller throughout the day. One of the things I noticed when I started getting back into lifting weights was how hunched over my posture had become. Sitting with your hands glued to a tiny keyboard in front of you all day pretty much forces bad posture. This position creates a lot of stress on the back. I find that rolling around on my back for a minute or two several times a day is great medicine for relieving this kind of stress.
I know all this stuff can get a bit goofy at times but the way I figure it is that being a business owner is demanding work and so staying at peak levels takes doing everything you can to stay sharp and focused. But really, I’m doing this now so that I get an extra 10 or 20 years of trekking around the planet doing the things I love to do with my family.