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Tips to avoid ailments from sedentary jobs

November 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Your job may be literally killing you. If sitting at your desk uninterrupted for long periods of time is part of your job, here are some tips to avoid "death by a desk."

The day begins differently at Skanska, an international project development and construction company. Instead of coffee and donuts, it's bending and stretching.

Deborah Ippolito is the senior director for business development and leads the morning routine.

"We all have a tendency to sit at our desks all day long," said Ippolito. "We stretch; we get energy in our bodies."

And it's for a good reason. New research shows people who sit at their desk all day are at an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and even an early death.

One study from the American Cancer Society showed people who sat more than six hours a day were at least 18 percent more likely to die than those who sat less than three hours a day. So you better move it.

"Take the stairs, park further away," said nutrition and fitness expert J.J. Virgin. "It's all of that stuff we do throughout the day. Even just fidgeting, they have found that thinner people fidget more, that burns those calories."

For example don't send emails when you can deliver the message, stand up when you take or make a phone call, and when you get a break- walk.

Other things to watch out for are your eyes.

"You focus so much on what you're reading that you don't think to blink," said worker Karin Mora.

To avoid eye strain that may lead to headaches and blurred vision, take "blink" breaks to give eyes a rest.

With 80 percent of American jobs classified as sedentary, as opposed to 50 percent back in 1960, we have to make extra effort to expend energy via mini bouts of movement.

Even one to two minutes at a time is the best way to keep your blood flowing and reduce your risk of disease.

And remember you don't have to do everything at once. Calorie burning is accumulative- it's not like a gym visit. Little bursts of activities can help you with a host of things- like your weight, bone density, and lowering blood pressure.

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