Combating the Chronic Effects of Your Desk Job with a Physical Disability

Last month, we touched on the topic of the detrimental impact of sedentary jobs on your health and 5 ways to combat those chronic effects. If you read that post, you may have been surprised to find out that the total amount of time you spend sitting still in a day has some serious associated health risks regardless of how much you exercise. Yup, that’s right. Even if you work up a tremendous sweat at the gym every evening, if most of your day is spent sitting still at your desk for hours on end you are NOT going to be your healthiest self.

But what if you can’t stand and walk around well? When you are living with a disability that makes standing or moving about difficult, you may spend a great deal of time sitting — but that doesn’t mean you cannot stay active. Whether you use a wheelchair as your primary means of mobility or you simply have difficulty walking a lot, the same formula still applies: Sit still less. Move more. However you do it, just get movin’.

Here are a few tips for keeping on the move, even when moving is difficult.

  1. Get off your derrière. Every 15 minutes. Yes, this is the same # 1 tip as our last post on this topic. Why? Because it’s THAT important. Relieving pressure on your buttocks is critical in protecting your skin from pressure ulcers, but beyond that, changing positions frequently is also critical in the prevention of chronic illness. This may mean doing a push-up for pressure relief in your wheelchair a few times every 15 minutes or if you are safely able to stand, standing up for 3-5 minutes with whatever support you need.
  1. Wheel away. If you are a wheelchair user, at least once an hour, pull away from your desk or stationary position and make a loop around the office, the building, or outdoors if you can. Whatever it takes to get the blood pumping in your body for a few minutes several times throughout the day will do the trick.
  1. Move it. After you’ve got your blood pumping with a quick excursion, take another minute or two to move and stretch your arms and legs. If you can move your legs, pump your ankles and do leg kicks and marching while you are sitting. To get your upper body moving, do some neck, arm and wrist circles.

It’s tempting to plow through the day without a “movement” break, but doing so is simply not healthy.  There are some real serious risks associated with sitting still all day including cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, heart attack and even cancer. To decrease your risk of these diseases, make a point to MOVE around once every hour and do some sort of pressure relief or standing every 15 minutes. Sounds relatively simple, but it is not easy to break old habits. To be successful, set a timer on your smartphone or other device as a reminder to MOVE. 15 minutes will seem like 5 seconds when you are not thinking about it and trust me — you will forget!

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