Freelancers' Guide: Balancing Physical Health in a Sedentary Work Environment – The Urban Writers

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Freelancers’ Guide: Balancing Physical Health in a Sedentary Work Environment

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by The Urban Writers

A sedentary lifestyle is characterized by extended periods of inactivity; someone—for example, a freelancer—who subscribes to the sedentary lifestyle will spend, on average, at least six hours per day seated, lying down, or in some other stationary position that doesn’t require exerting energy—lounging.

If you are someone who leads a sedentary life, you may not necessarily be categorized as lazy or unproductive as there are many occupations whose processes don't require any physical activity, such as freelance writing, where the bulk of work is performed at a desk through a computer. 

The utilization of technology has caused a shift in the preferred fields for people entering the workforce, with most opting for careers primarily based in an office environment seated at a desk rather than those requiring manual labor. Technology has also had a great and arguably grave impact on most of the developed world's choices in hobbies.

Pastimes such as hikes, friendly matches, and even social gatherings have seen a decline and are being replaced by video games, social media, and television. The deviation to a more sedentary form of work and leisure has been on a steady rise for several decades and has notably had an exponential increase in recent times due to the restrictions placed on movement due to the outbreak of COVID-19. While most of these restrictions have been lifted, it has introduced an alternate lifestyle that many people have found more appealing and have chosen to continue their professional and personal lives in that manner. 

Health Risks and Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle 

The negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle will often go unnoticed, which may result in freelancers unconsciously living that sedentary life without feeling compelled to pursue an active lifestyle, which will easily and without even noticing get to the point of becoming the norm and you continuously living that inactive life which then likely leads to health problems.

Summiting to the apex of physical fitness is a difficult task that requires an enormous amount of dedication and discipline. The average person will more likely instead opt for maintaining a healthy body, which will still require some effort but not at the level of an athlete or fitness enthusiast.

Unfortunately, a significant portion of the global population—approximately one-third—fails to adhere to the basic level of physical activity necessary to be considered healthy. While the reason behind each person’s failure to exert the minimal amount of effort needed cannot be assumed, the impact it will likely have been well documented.

The following are the likely outcomes of living a sedentary life. Each person's body reacts in different ways; some may take longer than others to get to these stages of diminished health.

  • Weight gain—the result of fewer calories being used through physical activity. It may cause obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, and cancer.
  • Muscle loss—muscles lose their vitality and become weaker after prolonged periods of inactivity. It may cause falls.
  • Bone mass depletion—bones become weak and thinner, causing them to become brittle. It may cause osteoporosis.
  • Poor blood circulation—blood flow is regulated by oxygen intake, which is determined by physical activity. Reduction in physical activity will result in reduced blood flow. It may cause diabetes, pulmonary embolism, and obesity.
  • Weakened immune system—being active strengthens the body, and the immune system’s lack thereof results in the opposite. It may cause infections, heart and lung disease, and cancer.
  • Hormone imbalance—hormones are responsible for the regulation of several bodily functions. As the name suggests, a hormone imbalance means that there is too much or too little of a hormone in the body. It may cause anxiety and depression, insomnia, and falls.
  • Inflammation—the body produces inflammatory cells that combat injuries and infections; inflammation occurs when inflammatory cells are discharged with no present injury or infection. It may cause tender and swollen skin, abdominal, chest, and joint pain, skin rash, and fever.

How a Sedentary Lifestyle Affects Freelancers

Being a freelancer offers you the ease and convenience of working from the comfort of your home; this provides access to personal amenities and eliminates the hassle of commuting. Some of the benefits that this work situation provides are being able to lounge while working and unimpeded access to grub.

This, unfortunately, opens the door to excesses and becoming so accustomed to this life that an attempt is not made to strike a balance and engage in physical activities such as exercise. Most of the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle will progress over time without any visible symptoms until it is further developed and often irreversible.

Having an awareness of the importance of being physically active and implementing a workout regimen in your daily freelancing schedule is ideal. A lot of freelancers, however, either fail to acknowledge the importance of physical activity or knowingly opt out of making an effort to commit to it.

There will be some downsides to getting a late start on exercising, which will result in having to start at a slower, more controlled pace, reaping fewer benefits as the body recuperates, and not having the luxury of a flexible workout plan. These downsides are not reasons to become disheartened as there are many freelancer health tips that will help to compensate for the late start.

Sedentary Work Health Strategies

Depending on the stage of the sedentary lifestyle-related illness, steps can be employed that are likely to—if not reverse its effects—at least slow or stop its continued progression. Given that the cause of these issues is the lack of physical activity, the most obvious course of action to resolve it would be to engage in the opposite. 

The most effective change that can be made for sedentary freelancers is to start exercising. The intensity of the workout that an individual engages in should correspond with their physical limitations and increase over time as the body becomes more acclimated to being active and then gradually increase. 

Being physically active may take many forms and is not relegated to a specific time or place, while a structured approach increases the likelihood of consistency and, therefore, its efficiency. Taking the initiative may require embracing unconventional methods.

Going to the gym or delegating time for hikes and running may not be opportune; there may be restrictions such as time constraints and a lack of access to the facilities and locations that can accommodate these activities, and the only option available is within the home-work area during the time scheduled for work.

The key is to initiate a more active lifestyle despite how simple and unimpactful it may seem at first, this was the case with a sedentary life where sitting for a few hours working did not seem that harmful but done long enough its impact became evident. The same rules apply to activities as simple as pacing around the room between emails or calls or while creating a new design or writing a manuscript.

Sedentary Freelancer Workout Options

You have arrived at a resolution to institute the necessary changes and focus on fitness and becoming healthier. The challenge now becomes creating a schedule and regime for workouts that don’t encroach on your productivity as a freelancer or cause a loss of resolve.

Based on the fitness level, it is recommended that the exercise regime commence with a light workout of between five to fifteen minutes, then gradually increase in intensity and duration at a comfortable pace.

Workout routines may range from low-resistance exercises that can be done from the comfort and convenience of a small area of the home. These types of exercises focus on increasing lung, heart, and circulation health in contrast to high-impact resistance training that is geared towards building muscles and would likely require the equipment that is typically available at the gym.

Let us explore the most popular types based on simplicity and the ability to gauge the intensity of workouts according to fitness levels.

  • Stretching—though it may seem too simple and effortless to have a meaningful impact, stretching loosens the muscles and increases the flow of blood and oxygen throughout your body. It is an ideal starting point for more impactful exercises and can be simple neck rolls, circular movement of the arms and shoulder, hands outstretched above the head, or toe touches.
  • Push-ups—the focus of push-ups is building upper body and cardiovascular strength. What makes this exercise ideal for freelancers opting not to leave home is the little space needed to participate as well as not requiring any equipment. The intensity may also be modified based on strength and endurance and then increased over time. There are two methods, both of which are achieved by being on the floor with palms vertical to the shoulder, bending your elbows, and lowering your body to the ground without touching. The variance is that for one method, your body is fully outstretched from hands to toes while the other goes from hands to knees, the latter of which is less tasking.
  • Triceps dips—this workout is ideal because it takes the contributing aspect of a sedentary lifestyle, your chair, and transforms it into a part of the solution. To start, place both palms with fingers outward at the edge of the chair, extend both feet forward with soles downward, and shift your entire body forward, away from the chair at the buttock while remaining at a seated level using your hands to keep elevated, and finally, dip by bending at the elbows lowering your body as low as is comfortable. Please note that for safety purposes, a swivel chair should not be used for this exercise.
  • Planks—similar to push-ups, your body should be in a vertical position, held in suspension by outstretched hands and feet. They differ, however, as planks don’t require upward and downward movement and are done by staying stationary. For the methods, the hand may be outstretched fully vertically to the shoulder or bent halfway at the forearms.
  • Squats—never miss a leg day, especially when all that is required is standing in an area that is the width of your body. With outstretched hands, start by standing upright and maintaining that posture while bending only the knees to lower your body as if sitting on a chair, going as low as is bearable.
  • Desk donkey kicks—this workout utilizes your desk and will require an area the length of your body. Start by placing both palms on the desk at shoulder length, then extend your legs until your body is at a forty-five-degree angle with one knee slightly bent. Next, you raise the knee that is not bent until it is at a horizontal angle and then bend at the knee of the elevated leg until it is at a vertical angle. Finally, push the heel of the elevated leg towards the ceiling as far up as is comfortable, lower your leg, and repeat the process.
  • Superman—as the name suggests, this exercise mimics Clark Kent as he soars through the sky. To achieve this exercise, lay face down with hands and feet fully outstretched and then elevate both ends until only your torso is touching the floor, lower both limbs and repeat the process.
  • Glute bridge—while lying on the floor with your back and feet at a horizontal angle, elevate from hips to knees at a vertical angle while bending at the knees to the feet’s sole at a 45-degree angle. While in this position, thrust upwards from your hip while keeping your feet flat, then lower and repeat the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is considered a sedentary lifestyle?

Answer: The practice of consistently spending six or more hours per day seated or lying down.

Question: What are the main contributing factors that influence a person to adopt a sedentary life?

Answer: The primary contributor to the adaptation of a sedentary lifestyle in both work and personal settings is undoubtedly the advancement of technology.

Question: Is it possible to integrate technology in work and play while maintaining a balanced sedentary lifestyle?

Answer: Yes. The key to achieving a balance is being aware of the time spent being inactive, this may not always be an effortless task as it is easy to get caught up in a project or a captivating game but keeping an account of the time spent in sedentary work or play then countering that with physical engagement work.

 

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