Is Your Desk Job Harming Your Health?

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Good evening!

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The Farmer’s Market bread returns for its’ last hoorah! It was a bit stale today, so I made sure to warm it in the micro for 15 seconds and put extra Earth balance on it! Perfecto.

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As for the whole wheat loaf I purchased, I tried freezing it. I have doubts it will taste fresh when I take it out though…I guess my eyes were bigger than my belly at the market on Saturday!!!! Another reason why grocery shopping when hungry is trouble.  :tongue:

For dinner tonight, I made garlic scape infused quinoa

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First I boiled the water with a vegetable bouillon cube until it had fully dissolved (this is crucial for not having bland quinoa!). Then I added the quinoa and a few processed garlic scapes, along with sea salt, 1 tbsp cold-pressed sunflower oil, and black pepper. I cooked the quinoa in this heavenly mixture for about 15 minutes or so.

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The kitchen smelled glorious! It was so tasty and fresh. Simple food is good food.

Because dinner was lacking some colour, I decided a juice would be made for an energizing dessert

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It was 1 beet, 2 carrots, 1/2 lemon, 1 tiny CSA apple. 

Last night, I had a hankering for my GF + Vegan chewy crackers, however this time I wanted to turn them into Glo Dough and also try my hand at dehydrating them in the food dehydrator.

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I took the original recipe that I created a while back and I changed it around. I was out of brown rice so I used all quinoa. Second, I added a ton of garlic scapes which gave it great pop of flavour. I also added a few other seasonings and seeds and I dehydrated them for about 3 hours.

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Despite not having brown rice, they were deelish. However, because I used only quinoa they didn’t hold together very well and were extremely crumbly! It was missing the brown rice. When brown rice is cooked and processed it acts like a paste, holding everything together. Next time = brown rice!

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The balls held together much better than the flatbreads and crackers did…

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They are sooo addicting though. They were awesome slathered in hummus…I made a huge plate for lunch that I promptly inhaled and could not peel myself away to get the camera. Blogger fail, I know.

I suspect the crackers will be great sprinkled over salads too. I am going to work on the recipe a bit before I post it because I want to iron out the kinks first!

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Check out day 4 of the amazing sprouting Green Onion! Note the smaller lil guys popping up! I added those yesterday. What shall we name it?

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As for the trans-planted basil, it does not seem to be growing.  I have even been talking to it when I eat my breakfast al fresco!

Is Your Desk Job Harming Your Health?

This morning, I read an interesting article on Health.com about desk jobs and the toll they can take on our health. I find this topic particularly interesting because I suffered from a lot of health problems when I was sitting for 12-14 hours a day while a grad student and researcher. I would often have a ton of back, neck, and shoulder pain, headaches, lethargy, not to mention feeling stir-crazy all day long!

Health.com reports that sitting for extended periods of time can cause ‘back pain, repetitive stress injuries, obesity and even an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.’ Also, it can flatten out the curve of the lower back and put strain on the upper body, shoulders, and arms. 

However, there are simple things that one can do to help reduce the negative impact that sitting for extended periods of time can have.

Health.com suggests…

1) Get moving! For 5 minutes every hour, get up and move around.

2) You need more than your daily gym workout. Just because you workout once a day does not mean you are ‘covered’ in terms of exercise if you are still sitting for 8-12 hours a day. Take several breaks throughout the day for 10-15 minutes to stretch and walk.

3) Practice good posture while sitting at your desk. An exercise ball or taking Pilates classes might help with this.

4) Have your desk assessed for proper ergonomic balance. Many workplaces now offer a physical therapist to come look at your workstation.

OSGMOM has always told me that I was a super active baby, toddler, and child always on the go. I could never sit still for long periods of time and was always moving around much to her chagrin.  I have always had a love for physical work, especially working with my hands and I get this from my mom who is very artistic and loves to draw and paint. It is no wonder that a desk job + 3-4 hours of driving each day did not jive well with my personality!

When I left my research job and commute and started up the bakery, I went from sitting for 12-14 hours a day to standing for at least 10 hours a day. It was a huge shift for me and I suffered from other health issues such as bad foot pain (especially heel pain), sore shoulders, arms, thumbs, and elbows from doing repeated physical labour with my hands. I started wearing comfortable sneakers and using my cushion mat from Costco (it’s great by the way) and this has helped quite a bit, although it can still be hard to find a balance. Now I find that I look forward to sitting breaks to give my feet a rest, but if I am on the computer doing desk work for longer than 4 hours I really start to feel it in my back. I think with any job, it can be difficult to find that perfect balance for one’s body!

Thinking back to my previous desk job, it would have been extremely hard for me to take mini walking breaks as this article suggests. I barely had enough time to go to the washroom at my old job and I was glued to my desk for hours on end. I think that it can be really hard for some employees to ‘claim’ that break time for their health, especially when their supervisor doesn’t take breaks either and doesn’t seem to encourage them.

At my old job we were supposed to get 1/2 hour for lunch and two 15 minute breaks, but I was lucky to have 10 minutes to inhale my lunch. Obviously, I was part of the problem by not ‘claiming’ my break in a more assertive manner, but sometimes it puts the employee in a precarious position because no one wants to look like a ‘slacker’ even if they are nothing of the sort.

Workplaces have made significant improvements over the past several years, but they have a long way to go before the majority of ‘desk-jockies’ are feeling at their optimum health.

I have lots of food for thought for you tonight…

  • Do you have a desk job or a standing/physical type job? Do you like it?
  • Do you feel like your workplace would support mini walking breaks during the day?
  • Do you implement any of the above suggestions into your day? 
  • Do you think that you get enough breaks at your current job and does your supervisor support breaks? How long and how frequent at your breaks? Do you take them?

On that note I am going to get up from this desk, stretch, and do some yoga. Have a great night!

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{ 103 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa June 29, 2010

One of the things I love about quinoa is that it takes the flavor of whatever you serve it with! That’s the best!

I have a desk job and sit A LOT. Sometimes I have back, neck pain and get stiff and sore from sitting. The good thing is that I have to get up and walk a lot to the printers, etc. I also run at lunch time. That helps!

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Jessica @ How Sweet It Is June 29, 2010

I switched to a desk job from being a full-time personal trainer and it is pure hell. I feel the effects everyday – my posture, etc. I can’t imagine those that have a desk job and DON’T exercise. I move around all day long and take walks when I can just to keep moving!

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Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope June 29, 2010

I have the opposite of a desk job. I am lucky if I get to sit down at all during my 12.5 hour shift. That is not an overstatement. As an ICU nurse, I feel like I truly get a workout, sometimes too much physical activity, actually, ha!
We get a half hour for lunch, and we do take period “breaks,” but it isn’t like I have someone actually watching my patient, so I might go to the front desk and watch the monitors or in the little kitchen area for about 5 minutes to inhale a cracker…that is kind of the extent to my breaks. It’s all good. I really like my job.

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Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope June 29, 2010

periodic*

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Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope June 29, 2010

As a funny side note, the last two days I had 8 hour lectures, and now my back is killing me. I could never have a desk job!!

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Jenny June 29, 2010

I don’t have a job, but I’m a student… i pretty much sit still from 9 a.m. til 3 p.m. every day, and then there’s blogging and homework! It’s so important to make sure to move!

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Amber June 29, 2010

I stand for most my shift at work and get a great workout from it. The only downfall being that my feet are killing me at the end of the day. Nicole- definitely understand the stressful job and getting a workout at work. I work in a cath lab at a trauma hospital and we rarely get a chance to leave our patients. But, I still would rather be on my feet and moving all day then sitting at a desk for sure!

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Callie June 29, 2010

Just like you, I’m not a desk job person. My mom said she always had trouble getting me to sit still.
Those crackers look good. Crumbly, but still good.

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Kristina June 29, 2010

I was previously an accountant, sitting in a locked office (with one of those bankers split doors!) the top was open, but the bottom was locked closed. I had a walk in safe with A LOT of money in it… while I LOVED the mental challenge of that job, I do not miss being at a desk all day AND not being creative / interacting with people.

I didn’t really have physical effects… I was working out 2+ hours after work, PLUS teaching a weight lifting class for special olympics athletes. I also sat on a yoga ball in my office!! :)

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Laura (Starloz) June 29, 2010

great post angela, so very true

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Maria June 29, 2010

Hi! I currently (and for the past 3 years have been working a desk job as a designer and developer for the web and multimedia. Being a very active person, I find myself feeling stir crazy by mid morning after sitting at my desk and enduring an hour long commute to the office. I drink a ton of water throughout the day so I end up getting up every 20-30 minutes just to use the restroom! I am also somewhat scatter-brained and if I get up to do one thing I typically get side tracked and end up doing something else, getting back to my desk and realizing I have to get back up. So, yes, I get to move around quite a bit at work other than when I am completely swamped. Luckily, we are an ‘active’ company in that many of our brands are sports brands the company supports employee breaks to go workout. A typical lunch break lasts an hour and I take advantage of that every day, I will go to the gym to strength train or do cardio. When I was in training for my first marathon I would run in the morning and mid-day take a long walk or something just to get me out of the office and to clear my head. I recently was fortunate enough to have one of the brands we work with sponsor me for my first triathlon and I start training this week! I can’t wait! I’m really lucky to be able to get a good day’s worth of exercise completed in the middle of my work day, otherwise I think I would be pretty miserable.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2010

Wow that is amazing! Thanks for sharing :) WIsh more companies were like this. Hopefully it catches on.

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Ed June 30, 2010

I’m a software engineer, so I’m at a desk for most of the day. Just like you, I drink lots of water throughout the day so I’m always going to the restroom! My coworkers and I usually eat outside, which is a nice break as well.

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Lily June 29, 2010

I frequently freeze the bread that I make–if you go directly from freezer to toaster or toaster oven, you should be in great shape!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2010

Toasting is a great idea!

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Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life June 29, 2010

I don’t technically have a desk job (I’m a teacher, so I’m moving a lot) but I do spend a lot of time on the computer at home, (i.e., blogging!) I have been trying extra hard to pay more careful attention to my posture, because I start to feel it immediately in my upper back. I definitely make sure I take breaks and move around throughout the day though – it makes such a difference!

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Erin June 29, 2010

I work a desk job all day and make a point to move as much as possible. Instead of sending an email to someone, I’ll walk down the hallway and talk to the person face to face. I am constantly shaking my foot or fidgeting and moving in some way. Plus, I have really good posture, so it helps keep strain off my back. Even so, I always work out after work to get some more movement into my day. Sitting for long periods of time just isn’t my special talent. :)

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AGS June 30, 2010

A couple years ago, I would walk around to talk with people as much as possible. I even had a reputation for walking around the office. I found for a lot of communication in-person was a faster decision-method, anyway. I wish I could do this more in my current workplace — we have a distributed company (throughout the U.S.), and so email/phone is pretty much the only option. I consider walking over to talk with someone one of the healthiest activities in the office — both for your body, and for over-all office communication!

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Heather June 29, 2010

oh girl, my desk job is totally killing my health! for so long i worked in places where i was on my feet all day long, and for 2 years now i’ve been sitting at a desk 8 hours a day. luckily i work in a company that encourages us to move around, workout, etc, but it’s still super boring and really hard on our backs and necks!

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Angela @ a healthy fit June 29, 2010

I wish I could take more breaks at work. When I’m super busy I can hardly find the time to eat lunch. I like my job better when I am onsite and running around for 10-13 hours.

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Charlotte June 29, 2010

I currently have a desk job. I have always had jobs where I stand all day so it is so hard for me to get accustomed to siting for hours on end. I ended up with a foot injury that made it so I could no longer work. So now I am at a desk and do not have time to take several breaks. Now that I am healed I do go for at least a mile walk everyday at lunch, to at least get out. You get tired when you stand all the time, but I feel like you get used to it more than sitting, at least I do! I can not wait to get to stand for a living again, haha.

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Lauren M. June 29, 2010

I work at Trader Joe’s so I am ALWAYS moving, lifting, squating, reaching. Sometimes I feel like I stand for a little too long, but they do a great job at breaking our day up into one or two hour chunks, meaning that I’m never doing the same job (cashier, stocking, food samples…etc.) for more than two hours. Some days I feel like I have done the equivalent of a hard weight lifting session when I get home. It makes for a fun day.

On a side note….I went to the farmer’s market this weekend specifically for garlic scapes and the man said they are out of season! So sad! He said that they are only in season for 2-3 weeks a year. I’m quite disappointed. Oh well. I guess garlic scape pesto will have to wait.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2010

You work at TJ’s…swoon. lol.

Yea I have heard the season is short…wonder why? To be honest I am a bit scaped out at the moment! haha. I still have a ton to use up!

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Mellissa June 29, 2010

I sit all day :( It is really hard to get used to and I try to get up every hour and at least move around. Moving around seems to help but by the end of the day my neck gets kind of achy.

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Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter June 29, 2010

I’m an architecture student, so when I’m at my studio I alternate between sitting and standing. Plus I walk away to fill my water bottle or visit with other people to take a break. Now that I have my internship I sit quite a bit which I’m not a fan of.

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Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker June 29, 2010

I have a desk job. And I HATE it. I wish I could get another kind of job where I could move around more. But I try desperately to get breaks during the day. I don’t really have time, but lately I’ve been making time to walk with a coworker for the half hour lunch. I eat while I work to get in my actual lunch. But basically, I think desk jobs are awful. I agree with one of the readers above that it’s a good idea to have a water bottle and fill it up to take breaks and get away from your desk. I think one of the worst parts of the whole thing is how it is bad for my eyes. I get headaches and my eyes are always dry. I find it difficult to focus, etc.

Anyway. I want to stop thinking about work because I have to get back to it tomorrow AM. Overall, my LEAST favorite part of having a desk job isn’t even the whole desk thing. It’s the being at work from 9 to 5 thing. My husband is a teacher, and he’s now off all summer. I don’t think the typical desk job allows for much rest and relaxation time. It’s too much stress . . . with not enough time off. That, for me, is the absolute worst part. I just wish I could find a way out!!!

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erica June 29, 2010

i have a desk job (i’m actually here right now…shhhh!) and i noticed that i started getting bad back and neck aches. i even just went for a massage the other day (ahh, the perks of bridesmaid duties ;p ) and as soon as the therapist just touched my back she went “oh! wow, your back is really tight!”

i try to walk around but i don’t think it does much. :/

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Lisa (BBB) June 29, 2010

I work in an office and try to get up and get moving when I can – but as you said – sometimes you just cant.

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Mary Ann June 29, 2010

My job is a volunteer coordinator at a non-profit nursing home and , although technically ‘desk jobish’, I get to move alot during the day. I do have a suggestion for your next Farmers Market bread. We often slice our bread and then freeze it. We remove as many slices as we need. And if the bread gets dry, what could be better than french toast with coconut butter and cocoa nibs on top?

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Faith @ LovelyAsCharged June 29, 2010

Oooh, savory Glo Dough! That’s such a fun idea!

I’m lucky enough to have a job chasing after kids so I’m hardly ever sitting still. My whole day is one big walking break! The bummy thing is that I rarely get a lunch break to myself; we automatically get an hour break docked out by payroll (I’m full-time but not salaried), but soo many days I’m on an all-day field trip and am forced to stay with the students. That’s the one downside I guess :/

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Sarah June 29, 2010

My job is the worst. Aside from the constant exposure to secondhand smoke, I am chained to my computer all day. It’s a small company, so we don’t get offered any ergonomic alternatives or exercise breaks. Luckily I have about 4 weeks left there, so it’s not for much longer! This post came at a great time, it will remind me to “claim my breaks” at my new job!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2010

You have second hand smoke at work?! That is awful :(

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Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty June 29, 2010

A stale bread idea for you!

Wet a brown paper bag, put bread inside and then put in the oven for a few mins, you will have delish soft bread again!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2010

wow great tip!

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Erin June 29, 2010

Back support is crucial! My back has been killing me since I started a desk job again so I need to take my own advice and practice better posture.

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Stacey@http://stacey-healthylife.blogspot.com/ June 29, 2010

I have a physical job were I move around constantly. It’s hard work but it keeps me active all day long and I’m thankful I don’t sit at a desk.

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Sonia @ Master of Her Romaine June 29, 2010

I have a desk job but I often get up and walk around as you suggested! Also, I divide my time between floors- the 4th floor and the basement- so I am always sure to use the stairs when traveling between offices!
I think that my desk job makes me healthier because I get so bored sitting there for so long that I read health blogs all day! bahahah ;)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2010

“I think that my desk job makes me healthier because I get so bored sitting there for so long that I read health blogs all day! bahahah ;)”

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!! Thsi is quotable

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Kathryn July 1, 2010

OMG this is SOOOOOOOOO true. After a long time sitting at my desk my mind goes to work mush and I take a brain break and feed my soul with some blogs. I’ve been reading yours (catching up from the beginning, just got to 2009) and I’ve alredy made huge changes in my healthy activities!!!

My upper back KILLS by the end of the week and I walk at break and lunch usually. Bodies want to move. I guess it is all about finding balance between activity and rest.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 1, 2010

Aww thank you I’m glad you enjoy it! :) Good for you for making all those healthy changes!!!

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Mary @ Bites and Bliss June 29, 2010

Holy cow! That onion grew that much in a day?! But the Glo Dough crackers take the cake here..they look fun to eat!

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Bridget June 29, 2010

What a cute little onion you got there :) He just gets bigger everyday!

I work in retail/food and beverage so I don’t sit at a desk. I’m sure in a few years when I get out of University and find a career, I’ll probably wind up at a desk :( Hopefully I’ll find a job that doesn’t require me to be trapped in a tiny cubicle. I get very antsy when I sit for a long time, even when sitting in lectures.

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Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf June 29, 2010

I have a desk job. I’d rather be on my feet and moving around doing a bunch of random things than being chained to a desk, but it’s my only option right now.

My office has a 15 min break each in the morning and afternoon. I typically take them. And our supervisor is fine with it, but she wants us to take them at very specific times in the day, and sometimes that’s not possible to go at the very same time every day.

I walk around when I can. I walk around the campus during my break, and I walk up three flights of stairs to the bathroom on the very top floor when I need to go.

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Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) June 29, 2010

I rarely sit at work … I teach grade 7/8 and they always have me on my toes :-)

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Kelsey June 29, 2010

I’m a GIS technician, so I have a physical-type job with little desk time that requires me to be constantly moving and carrying heavy equipment to each location I’m surveying. For that reason, my co-workers and I make a point of putting everything down every 2 hours for at least 15 minutes to stretch, relax, or grab a snack. I find these little breaks are enough to keep me from being sore, and keep me sane!

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Tyffanie June 29, 2010

I do have a desk job and I definitely find it to be a challenge to sit the majority of the day. While I like the people I work with and the company I work for, I am not a fan of a sit-down job. Luckily my workplace definitely supports getting up and moving around. They have implemented something called “Pause for Gym” where a trainer comes to the office twice a week and leads us through a 10-15 min exercise routine to get us moving. As part of the program, they also have 10 min massages once a week that we can sign up for. It is pretty awesome! Even with this progressive-ness, I am going to try and take these mini walking breaks, even if it is just walking around the office a couple times a day, as well as stretching at my desk. I find my hips get really tight being seated all day so sometimes I do lunges at my desk. Luckily my job isn’t stringent on the number or length of breaks that are taken. If you are getting your work done, they are pretty flexible!

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Janet June 29, 2010

I teach first grade so depending on the day I would guess I never sit more than 20 minutes (small group reading instruction) without moving. I also don’t sit much at home. My DH times me during tv shows/movies as I don’t sit through a whole show unless I am sleeping! I don’t think a desk job would work for me.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2010

hahah I never sit through a movie…I’m always getting up. Eric always laughs at me.

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Noelle June 29, 2010

I have a desk job, which definitely makes me feel a bit stir crazy at times. But now I just make up random errands that I simply must run (i.e. walking 3/4 mile each way to whole foods to buy a grapefruit for a snack :-) ). Everyone in my office loves it because I can pick up groceries for them too. It so important to move. Screw overbearing bosses!

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Shanna @ Shanna Like Banana June 29, 2010

Excellent blog subject. I work 9-11 hours every day and unfortunately too much of my job is sitting. I try to move around as much as possible, like talk face-to-face instead of email or go for mini walks, but I still fear THE OFFICE @SS. Yikes! ;) I would love if my work encouraged more mini walk breaks during the day, but I need to also take the ownership myself!

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Jill June 29, 2010

I have a desk job and it definitely takes a toll on my body. Where I work the corporate culture is all about working people to the brink of meltdown… and I have a very demanding boss who doesn’t take many breaks. She works through lunch unless she’s going out for a business lunch, although once in a rare while she’ll go for a short walk. 15 minute breaks don’t exist to her. It is actually the law here that if you work over 5 hours in a stretch, that you are entitled to 30 minutes lunch and two 15s. I’m in the same boat as you were, in that I don’t assert that right. I almost always take my half hour for lunch, although I stay sitting at my desk. I just stop working and read the news instead. I never take my 15s though… Although I work out about 1.5hours 5-6 days a week, I know I need to move more during the workday. I get really bloated after meals and my feet and ankles swell.
Thanks for the motivation to try harder to get up out of my chair more! I also wish the company would be cool with me replacing my chair with a stability ball.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2010

Your situation sounds exactly like mine was! I hope you can find some relief…it is not fun by any means.

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Amber K June 29, 2010

I work part time in child care, so most of the time I am jumping up chasing after kids, or standing during the teaching portions. I sit during movie time and sometimes while playing with the kids.

When I’m at home I sit at the computer or sometimes kick back with a good book. So I am active sometimes, and completely inactive at others. Hopefully it is the best of both worlds!

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