10 Reasons To Step Away From Your Desk

In a world where our daily routines often keep us tethered to our workstations, we're giving you fresh reasons why breaking free is not just a luxury but a necessity.

By URLife Team
02 Oct 2023

Regardless of how enticing your workspace may be, never underestimate the importance of taking regular breaks. In fact, to optimise your working day and unlock your full potential, experts recommend a simple yet transformative habit—leaving your desk at least once every hour. 


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At first glance, this hourly respite might seem excessive, even disruptive. However, consider this: persistently working without pause for extended stretches can take a toll on your mood, well-being, and productivity. The benefits of these periodic escapes from your workstation are many, promising not only a revitalised work experience but also a healthier, more productive you. So, don't merely accept the daily grind; embrace the liberating power of regular breaks for a brighter, more fulfilling work life.


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10 Reasons To Step Away From Your Desk

Prolonged sitting or a sedentary lifestyle can have various negative health effects on your body and overall well-being. Here are some common health side effects associated with sitting for long periods:

1. Walking encourages muscular strength: Sitting for extended periods can lead to muscle atrophy, especially in the muscles of the legs and lower back. These muscles can become weaker and less toned. Walking engages various muscle groups, particularly those in the legs and lower body. Walking helps maintain and strengthen these muscles, preventing them from becoming weak due to prolonged inactivity. Moving encourages proper posture, which is crucial for maintaining muscle strength and preventing muscle imbalances. Good posture distributes the load evenly across muscles, reducing the risk of weakness and strain.


2. Helps fix hunched back and poor posture: Sitting for long hours often leads to poor posture, which can result in back, neck, and shoulder pain. It can also contribute to conditions like kyphosis (hunchback) and lordosis (swayback). 

Walking encourages proper posture, which is crucial for maintaining muscle strength and preventing muscle imbalances. Good posture distributes the load evenly across muscles, reducing the risk of weakness and strain.


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3. Minimises the risk of obesity: A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain and obesity, as it reduces the number of calories burned compared to more active lifestyles. Regular walking can help manage body weight and body composition. Walking is a sustainable form of exercise that most people can incorporate into their daily lives. 

In a groundbreaking study published by Harvard Health Publishing in 2022, researchers delved into the intriguing relationship between genetics, physical activity, and body weight. Their study focused on 32 specific genes known to promote obesity and involved a substantial cohort of over 12,000 participants. It was discovered that participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half. 


4. Moving constantly will keep the heart healthy: Sitting for prolonged periods can lead to poor blood circulation, which can increase the risk of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Taking short breaks to stand up and move around helps improve blood flow, reducing the strain on your heart. Short walks help manage risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and obesity, which are all associated with heart problems. 


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5. Short walks can improve blood sugar levels: After a meal, there is a  surge in blood glucose levels, and the subsequent release of insulin. A 2022 systematic review and meta-analysis issued by Sports Medicine shows that light walking after a meal – even for 2 to 5 minutes can reduce blood sugar and insulin levels.


6. Improves mental health: Sedentary behaviour is associated with increased risk of anxiety and depression. Finding ways to manage stress is crucial for your health. Short walks after meals, like after lunch, can aid in mental health. Walking promotes the release of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. This can help reduce stress and anxiety levels, leading to a more relaxed state of mind. Physical activity, even a short walk, can help regulate emotions. It can be particularly useful during moments of frustration or anger.


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7. Aids in digestion: Sitting for too long can contribute to digestive issues like constipation or bloating. Taking a stroll away from your desk isn't just a pleasant diversion; it aids in digestion, and acts as a powerful stress-buster.

According to a 2021 report issued in Medical News Today, the benefits of moving the body extend far beyond just stretching your legs. The report highlights a connection between movement and our digestive system. As we walk, our bodies spring into action, stimulating the digestive process, and facilitating the smooth passage of food. But that's not all, a brief walk following a meal can be a game-changer for managing blood glucose levels. 


8. It may increase bone density: As per a 2023 study issued in the journal Nature, assessed the relationship between sedentary activity, physical activity and bone mineral density. It was found that  lack of weight-bearing activity, such as standing and walking, can lead to reduced bone density over time, increasing the risk of osteoporosis.

So, the next time you find yourself at your desk for long, remember that a simple stroll isn't just a break from work—it's a prescription for stronger bone health and a healthier you.


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9. Ease eye strain and neck stiffness: Many people who sit for long hours are l using computers or other digital devices. Staring at screens for extended periods can cause eye strain. This is often referred to as computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain. The constant focus on a screen can lead to symptoms like dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, eye fatigue and neck strain.

As per a 2020 study published in the Journal of Occupational Health, a cluster‐randomised controlled trial was conducted among office workers  with high risk of neck pain and eye strain who were asked to take a stroll for 6 months every day. It was concluded that daily walking steps reduced the onset of neck pain in office workers. 


10. May help boost focus and mood: Extended periods of sitting can lead to decreased productivity and concentration. Taking breaks to move around can improve focus and efficiency. Stepping away from your desk, even if it's just for a brief five or ten minutes, can be a game-changer for your productivity and mental clarity. It's not merely a momentary escape; it's a strategic pause that can help you recalibrate your day and achieve your goals more effectively. 

By briefly detaching from your work, you allow your mind to reset. You can redirect your mental energy toward the tasks that truly matter, ensuring that you're on track to meet your goals.


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Step away from desk to maximise the benefits of walking after lunch, consider the following tips:

  • Aim for a brisk pace: A moderately fast walk will engage your muscles more than a leisurely stroll.
  • Include inclines: If possible, incorporate uphill or downhill sections into your walk to challenge different muscle groups.
  • Maintain good posture: Focus on walking with proper alignment to engage the core and support the muscles of the back and legs.
  • Make it a habit: Consistency is key. Try to make post-lunch walking a daily routine to see long-term improvements in muscle strength.

While walking can be beneficial, it should be part of a well-rounded fitness routine that includes strength training and flexibility exercises for comprehensive muscle health. Always consult with a healthcare provider or fitness professional before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have underlying health concerns or conditions.


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