Lately I’ve been feeling very “desk-bound” at work, and having a good deal of back pain from sitting for prolonged periods of time. I’ve been inspired to put my computer up on boxes on my desk, so that I can stand for a while at work. I wish that I had a nice large Mac desktop like the one in this picture, but my basic Dell laptop actually makes it that much easier to improvise. I know that pastors also spend a lot of time sitting–in the car, across the kitchen table talking with parishioners, alongside hospital beds, reading or writing sermons–so I thought you might be interested in some of the resources I’ve found for getting around the problems of having a “desk job.”
First of all, my concern about my own office practices are underscored by a growing body of research pointing out the hazards of sitting for long stretches, even for people who exercise regularly. A December article in the New York Times pointed out that:
…scientists have determined that after an hour or more of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat in the body declines by as much as 90 percent. Extended sitting, they add, slows the body’s metabolism of glucose and lowers the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol in the blood. Those are risk factors toward developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Or, as this image more bluntly reminds us (click through to the full infographic for the hard facts):
So, back to my improvised standing desk: this article has some great suggestions for inexpensive, do-it-yourself ways to get your computer up off your desk. I love some of these creative solutions!
But what about those other times in the day when we find ourselves sitting? I have tried to train myself to stand up when I am talking on the phone with pastors, or at the very least to do some simple neck and shoulder stretches. I know some colleagues who always do their phone calls while walking outside if the weather is nice, and I’ve also talked to pastors who have made it their practice to walk with parishioners instead of meeting with them in their office.
At the end of the day, we are not going to be able to avoid sitting altogether, but research points to the efficacy of improving our activity levels in small ways. Instead of emailing a colleague, I walk across the office to talk with her in person. I am working on increasing the amount of water I drink each day, but instead of bringing in a huge water bottle, I prompt myself to go fill a cup with fresh water every hour, which at least has me getting up and walking to the staff kitchen periodically. And there are certainly some fancy chairs out there to keep us comfy, but, as this New York Times article points out, the best way to treat back pain from sitting? STAND UP!
Click here for another post from The Connection on dealing with low back pain.
image courtesy of apartmenttherapy.com