Sit Less, Live Longer: Help Your Practice Staff Avoid the Dangers of Being Sedentary
By now we are all aware of the negative health impact of sitting at a desk or work station all day. Recent research shows that sedentary lifestyles, often caused by desk jobs, can lead to a slower metabolism and lower life expectancy. More frighteningly, studies are now showing that regular exercise does not negate the adverse effects of sitting all day. Prolonged sitting is that harmful to your health. Unfortunately, prolonged sitting is a part of many of the positions held in the dental office – whether that is in the exam room or the front office/reception area.
Given the nature of how most dental professionals spend their days, here are some suggested adjustments to avoid the sedentary trap.
- Stand-Up Workstations: Try one of the most popular solutions in offices across the country for your office administrator and receptionist - the addition of the stand-up desk. Because standing for too long can also have adverse effects, researchers recommend a 50/50 sit/stand split.
- Office Laps: Encourage staff to set a timer, keep it on their desk and when it goes off, take a few laps around the office. Regular walking breaks help with circulation and counteract effects of too much sitting.
- Desk Exercises: Moving at your desk is a simple way to keep the blood circulating while in your seat. Even brief periods of movement can mitigate negative impacts of long periods of sitting. Try a few tricep-dips off the edge of your desk, leg kicks while sitting down or using books as weights.
- Stretch: Stretching opens the muscles and increases blood flow. Blood flow eases tension, combats stiffness and promotes healing. Take a few minutes to stretch the neck, back, legs and ankles every hour.
- Encourage Office Workouts: Bring in a yoga professional to offer a class once a week for your staff. Or organize a group walk at lunchtime. Encouraging healthy exercise practices not only benefits employees but it also benefits the practice in the form of happy team members that take less sick days. And many insurance providers offer incentives for offices that encourage healthy lifestyles.
While modern conveniences can make life easier, they can also make us unhealthy. Create an environment in your clinic that encourages healthy behavior and prevents the workday from creating long-term physical health problems.