Queensland Law Society

Wellbeing: Don’t be chained to the desk

Your body does not want you to sit for hours, but the tasks and responsibilities of your job may give you little choice in this matter. Human bodies are designed to be upright for most of our waking hours; our cardiovascular and digestive systems work much better when we are standing up as compared to sitting down. And as we are working longer and longer hours, the negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle become more pronounced - so much in fact, that sitting has been described as the new smoking.[1]

To protect your health and wellbeing from the risks of a sedentary lifestyle, build in these small steps into your daily routine:

  • At least twice a day, get out of your office chair and stretch out your wrists, shoulders and large muscle groups. Your body will thank you with less joint and muscle pains and fewer headaches. 
  • Give yourself regular small breaks which involve physically moving away from the desk. This could include a short brisk walk around the office, visiting a colleague instead of automatically reaching for the phone, or using the stairs instead of the lifts on the way to your next meeting.
  • Speaking about meetings: try to go chairless and suggest a standing or walking meeting. Physical movement also has positive effects on your mood and creativity.
  • When you take a phone call, stand up or even walk around if possible. It may help you to keep your focus and pay better attention to the conversation, as well.
  • Staying hydrated throughout your day will support your alertness levels, memory function and cognitive power. Always have a drinking glass or water bottle at your desk as an easy reminder. You could then make it a routine to get up and refill your cup or bottle in the kitchen every two hours. 

To sum it up: regular physical exercise is a key ingredient to physical and psychological wellbeing, and having an office-based job does not mean you need to be chained to the desk all day – you just need to be a bit creative and intentional about it!

If you would like to learn more, don’t hesitate to reach out to the QLS Solicitor Support service on ethics@qls.com.au or p. 3842 5843 to speak to someone in a judgement-free and supportive environment.  

Rebecca Niebler
Organisational Culture and Support Officer, QLS Solicitor Support (QLS Ethics and Practice Centre)
30 January 2020