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Is your sitting time behind a computer making you unhealthy? Or could technology be the antidote. Here’s how tech can help you meet your workday fitness goal.
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It’s been a few years since Nilofer Merchant stormed the stage at TED and urged the world to stand up—literally. “Sitting has become the smoking of our generation,” she told the (seated) audience of tech VIPs and Hollywood celebrities. “What you’re doing, right now, at this very moment, is killing you.”
More recent research has shown she was all-too correct. In one 2017 study, nearly 8,000 middle-aged Americans were outfitted with hip-mounted accelerometers to measure total sedentary time. The result? Longer total sedentary time and longer sedentary time without breaks were both linked to greater mortality among participants. The only way to eliminate that risk? High levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.
In other words, you need to keep moving. And not just on the weekends.
That means staying active even while at work. Merchant implicates digital technology as a key culprit in keeping the world sedentary, especially at the office. And she’s right. Our connected machines keep us glued to our seats for half our waking hours or more. But technology can also be the antidote.
It’s helpful to think of the mobile revolution as just that: technology that enables mobility. Thanks to smartphones more powerful than the supercomputers of yesteryear and laptops that weigh less than actual notebooks, knowledge workers don’t need to stay locked to one desk to do their jobs. And the proliferation of lightweight, stylish fitness trackers makes it easy to keep yourself honest about whether you’re hitting your fitness goals.
Still, hitting your 10,000 steps—or whatever workday fitness goal you aspire to reach—is a Monday-through-Friday challenge. Here’s how tech can help you get there.
Your phone isn’t just a distraction device. It’s an incredibly powerful way to do almost everything today’s knowledge workers would define as “work.” Especially with today’s larger screens, you may be surprised to find how easy it is to free yourself from your desk. Need to send an email? Walk to the other side of the office and write it with your thumbs. Don’t let yourself reply to a text unless you’re standing. These may seem like trivial actions, but over time they add up. Just one thousand extra steps per workday adds up to 200,000 more steps per typical work year—or more than 75 extra miles per year at an average stride.
One of the most useful hacks for better daily fitness can be credited to Jerry Seinfeld. Wait, how’s that? In a story that’s become [famous] among productivity hackers, Seinfeld revealed that his trick for motivating himself to write jokes even if he didn’t want to was a big calendar. He’d put a red X on each day he wrote. Over time, the Xs formed a chain. The longer the chain, the more pressure not to break it.
You can use the same trick to motivate yourself to embrace nearly any habit. But you don’t need the big calendar Seinfeld used in the pre-smartphone era. Apps like Streaks and Habitica let you keep track of your daily routines, whether it’s drinking enough glasses of water or taking a walk during lunch.
With the help of your phone and apps, work can be a place that supports a more active life. Progress, after all, only happens when you’re on the move.
Information received through VSP Vision Care channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.