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How to stay healthy in a 9 to 5 office environment

man sitting at computer

How a standing desk led to my leg surgery…

I graduated from college on a Friday and started my first office job on the following Monday. I still remember the excitement I felt after getting my first paycheck, which was ten times higher than the bi-weekly paychecks I would receive from the local coffee shop at my university. All I had to do was show up to work for five days a week to keep this income stream rolling! That excitement continued for the next four weeks before it started trickling away. By the beginning of my second month in the real world, I started feeling the impacts of sitting behind a desk all day.

I became sluggish, unhealthy, and fatigued.

I needed to learn how to stay fit and healthy while at the office.

how to stay healthy in the office - deskDay One: Standing Desk

A co-worker introduced me to standing desks after sharing a couple articles that claimed sitting is the new smoking. I was sitting at work for at least eight hours each day. And then I would head home and sit while I worked on a startup or watched Netflix for another three to four hours. That’s at least 11 hours of sitting every day! How did I inherit this sedentary lifestyle? When I was in college, I was on my feet moving around throughout the day.

I started using a standing desk to try to get my old active lifestyle back. After the initial transition period, I noticed that I had more energy at the end of the day. And for the first few weeks, my legs actually experienced a bit of soreness. So this standing desk thing seemed to be working out pretty well. Unfortunately, this story took an unexpected turn for me.

Day 60: Leg Surgery

I started experiencing some pain in my left leg after two months of standing at my desk. I went to a specialist and found out that the valves in the veins of my leg started to fail. Valves are important to prevent the backflow of blood in your veins due to gravity. Apparently, standing for prolonged periods of time creates a lot of pressure on these valves. In my case, that additional pressure was enough to force me to undergo surgery to remove the longest vein in my leg. That experience really changed my view of what a healthy office should look like.

Sitting is not the problem. Sitting is a symptom of the problem.

The real problem is the sedentary lifestyle that a desk job encourages. This sedentary lifestyle can take many different forms, but the outcome is the same. Evidence tells us that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease – even if you are fit! In fact, some studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle increases your mortality rate by up to 50% over an active lifestyle.

Day 90: Resolution

After dozens of hours of education and an eye-opening surgery, I learned some things.

These are the three things you need to know about keeping your body healthy at work.

how to stay healthy in the office - woman in officeIf sitting isn’t the real problem, then standing desks aren’t the real solution

I’m not against standing desks. I still use one today and I encourage everyone to use. But standing desks are not a silver bullet to a healthy life. There are several products, techniques, and programs designed to complement the standing desk for a more holistic approach to staying healthy and fit in the office.

Too much of anything can be a bad thing, including standing

Sitting all day is bad for you. Standing all day is bad for you, too. Now, I use the Pomodoro technique to remind myself to change my environment throughout the day. I will typically stand for an hour, take a five minute break, and then sit for half an hour to finish up a task. Then I would repeat those steps throughout the day.

A truly healthy office environment is an active office environment

For thousands of years, survival required that people moved throughout the day. From hunting and gathering to manufacturing in the industrial age, we have always been moving. It’s not a coincidence that the average man is 16% heavier today than he was in the 1970’s when the office lifestyle has changed so drastically. In order to stay healthy while I’m working, I try to incorporate sitting, standing, stretching, moving, and plenty of breaks. I found that when I stay active, I’m not only improving my fitness, but my productivity increases as well.

This journey that I’ve taken has inspired me to tinker around with some homemade creations that have improved my health at work. After teaming up with a couple of friends that share similar views about the sedentary workspace, we ended up creating a company with a single goal of helping people redeem their nine to five.

CubeFit takes a holistic approach to the healthy office environment by creating an ecosystem of products designed to improve fitness and productivity at work. We are really excited about our latest product launch, the TerrraMat. This anti-fatigue mat is specifically designed for standing desks and has six features engineered to help you stay active. Our vision is to help the world transition from this toxic, sedentary lifestyle so that we can continue exceeding without sacrificing our health.

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No fluff or "pie in the sky inspiration." Just real stories.

Written by Gerald Zingraf

Gerald is a serial entrepreneur and a co-founder at CubeFit. They take a holistic approach to creating a healthy office environment through an ecosystem of healthy office products.

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