News and Information

Stay on the Move at the Office


Do you sit at your office desk for hours on end? If so, it’s time to stand up and get moving. Debbie Bellenger, director of CaroMont Health’s Wellness Program, said that today’s corporate America can translate to sitting 12 to 14 hours a day for some jobs, rather than the standard eight-hour shift.

“We’re all trying to do more with less. I think a lot of us are sitting more,” she said. “We’re trying to fit more in, so we just do, do, do, and we don’t stand up and stretch because we’re just trying to get it all done.”
The new smoking
Staying in these seated positions can have detrimental long-term effects. In fact, sitting has been called “the new smoking,” Bellenger said. The hearts of people who smoke or are overweight have to work harder, which means a shorter life span.

Being stationary can cause weight gain and joint pain, put stress on the back and lumbar spine area, and slow the circulatory system and metabolism. It can also lead to metabolic syndrome, when a person has a cluster of metabolism-related health conditions that can increase the risk of developing diseases such as diabetes.

“Essentially, our bodies are machines. We’re designed to move. Sitting doesn’t get us to a place of health,” Bellenger said. “The more we move, the healthier the whole body is. Sitting is the opposite of what we really need our bodies to be doing.”

Fit breaks
Research shows that people should stand up for at least three minutes for every 60 minutes they sit, Bellenger said.

CaroMont Health has developed 15-minute “fit breaks” for its workers. Wellness Program staff members teach employees simple exercises and stretches, and then they can lead others in breaks at fit stations throughout the hospital. Some of the sessions are during specific times, while others are impromptu.

“The more (activity) we can fit in the workplace, the healthier all of us can be together,” Bellenger said.

Wellness staff members are also available to teach community members how to do fit breaks. For example, Holy Angels turned to CaroMont to help them institute fit breaks and develop a yearlong wellness program for employees.

Get moving
Bellenger offered these tips for moving more throughout the workday:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Bring your tennis shoes and take walk breaks.
  • Instead of sitting around a table for meetings, host walk-and-talk meetings or stand-up meetings.
  • If you need to get in touch with someone, walk to his or her office rather than calling or emailing.
  • Make meetings shorter. Turn one-hour meetings into 50 minutes, or 30-minute sessions into 20. Any meeting that’s two hours or more should include stretch breaks.
  • Commit to get up and walk around at least once an hour.

Desk exercises

Here are some “simple but effective” desk exercises that Bellenger recommended:

  • Stretch at your desk or do chair yoga. One good smartphone app for chair exercises is called “Chair Yoga.”
  • Sit on the edge of your chair and fold your body forward to release your back.
  • Sit up straight, reach around your chair and rotate your body to each side.
  • While sitting, lift one leg at a time for hamstring stretches.
  • Sit at the edge of your chair, put your arms at your sides and lift yourself up.

Fit Approach/SweatGuru owner and personal trainer Jamie Walker offered these additional tips:

  • Replace your work chair with a stability ball to improve your posture and work out your core.
  • Stand up and do pushups off the edge of your desk.
  • Stand up, hold your arms straight out and circle your arms clockwise and counterclockwise.

Want to start fit breaks at your workplace?

Call Holly Powell, CaroMont community wellness coordinator, at 704-834-3408.