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Sedentary job and how to avoid collateral damage

Friday, February 01, 2013

My job is as sedentary as possible.
The short job description could be "Sit and think all day!"

Ten years ago at least I had to walk to the fax/printer several times a day, but now almost all documents go around via email and shared links, signed electronically. So I only have to get up to get some more water and for bathroom breaks.

I love my job. It fully utilizes my brain. Memory, attention to detail, seeing the big picture, concentration, organization, being focused always... It feels good doing it, it is even addictive: I forget about everything else and have to remind me to stop when 8 hours are over.

But sitting all day in a heated/air conditioned office or car is no good for the human body.
Our ancestors stood / walked / run / lifted heavy objects several hours a day.
And did that mostly outside.
I believe those who survived were adapted to do these physical activities and to enjoy them, otherwise they would have died of exhaustion or depression.

Now, sedentary lifestyle is just the opposite. Confined to a chair in the room, I believe human body lacks the pleasure of moving around in open spaces, in the sun or rain or snow. And that lack of pleasure causes a feeling of emptiness and fatigue.
The result? I used to go home exhausted from mental exertion, collapse in front of TV or laptop screen and eat. And felt even more exhausted and tired afterwards.
The result: weight gain and a mild but constant depression.

In the past several months I have been doing better giving my body what it needs.
I run outside 3-4 times a week, 2 of them on a scenic trail in the forest.
Out in sunshine, rain, snow, ice, whatever the weather gives me.
Today's run was fun - on melting ice, in 40oF and sunshine. I deliberately chose the scenic route despite the ice, even if all the streets are now dry and clean, because the beauty of the forest is half the fun.
On Saturdays I walk the same route with a friend.

In the past weeks I added weight lifting and partial pullups to my workouts, and I feel better than ever. I believe the "high" I experience after a run or some weight lifting is the "normal" mood of physically active person.

So, I'm quite active now, spending about 2 hours walking, 2-2.5 hours running and 3 hours strength training, and this is enough to make me feel great on most days, even if this is nothing compared to physical activity of pre-industrial man.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    692 days ago
    this just makes so much sense...........

    I know when I'm stuck in the office and in front of the computer I get one feeling..usually accomplishing tasks, but when I'm out on the floor, engaging customers, moving around...........lots of moving around, I get stronger and stronger and more alert.

    Good points

    you are the wise one!!!!
    1858 days ago
    My job was the same, sitting, sitting, sitting. Brain, brain, brain. It's controversial, that sitting makes my brain sleepy. Exercise makes my brain alive. Then I started to do short exercise sessions during my day, up and down the stairs, go for water bottles for the office, organize a meeting in a different building.
    Are you doing some regular exercise during the day?
    How others do in your office?
    1867 days ago
    emoticon Glad you found the key to feeling better, even if it means regressing evolution a bit! emoticon

    emoticon also for visiting my blog and helping to celebrate my recent reconciliation with my jeans!
    1870 days ago
    In the exact same boat. I refer to my lifting session as "Barbell Therapy". Something about having a loaded barbell on your back or on your chest sorta makes everything else not matter much. lol.
    1870 days ago
    That's awesome! Do you go out on break too?
    1870 days ago
    Makes a HUGE difference, doesn't it? I, too, work an essentially sedentary job, although interrupted by "too much peopling" in periodic bursts. For me, making sure I actually TAKE the breaks that workplace law requires my employer to give me was once an issue... no more! I walk those breaks, outdoors when possible, and I firmly believe it makes me a better worker!
    1870 days ago
    You are inspiring! Thank you for sharing your insight and exercise! emoticon
    1870 days ago
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