Studies have shown that sitting down for longer periods of time can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes or being overweight. Moreover, scientists have established a connection between sitting down and death, which is even more alarming.
So it’s obvious we need to be more active if we value our health, but can we also do it at the office? The answer is definitely yes! There are things we can do in order to effectively counteract the damaging effects of physical inactivity in the workplace. Here are some realistic ideas which you can try to integrate into your daily schedule for a healthier you:
Walk (at Least Partially) to Work
Walking for 30 minutes on a daily basis has tremendous benefits. The ideal scenario would be to be able to walk to work, but not everybody lives within walking distance of their office. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t implement more physical activity on your way to the office.
If you’re driving, don’t park in your building’s parking lot. Instead, park further away within a reasonable distance and walk the rest of the trip. If you’re taking the train, bus or tram, don’t get off at your regular stop. Instead, get off one or two stops earlier and walk.
Take the Stairs
Stair climbing is a great and underestimated form of exercise. It’s an efficient way to improve your cardiovascular fitness and your balance, to strengthen your bones and muscles, as well as to burn calories.
So instead of taking the elevator every day, try and take the stairs. The important thing is to do it gradually, not climb seven floors all of a sudden. Start off by taking the stairs for a floor, then work your way up. With the passage of time it will seem easier and easier and at a certain point it will become a habit.
A stand-up meeting format can turn out to be beneficial from two perspectives. On the one hand, research has shown that standing reduces the duration of a meeting and makes it more efficient. It’s more concise, it keeps away distractions like computers and phones, it encourages the sharing of ideas and team cooperation.
At the same time, a stand-up meeting is great from a physical point of view. It will make you get off that chair and it will help you improve your posture and burn more calories in comparison to sitting down, because you activate your muscle mass. Of course, it’s important to mention that not all meetings lend themselves to this stand-up concept. Companies can resort to the standing meeting only in particular cases and for a smaller number of people.
Use a Standing Desk
If available, standing desks are definitely worth trying. This type of equipment can help you improve your fitness, because by standing you engage more muscles in your body and you burn more calories. According to studies, it can also reduce upper back and neck pain and help you improve your posture.
If you do opt for a standing desk, make sure the transition is as smooth as possible. Don’t go from sitting 8 hours a day to standing 8 hours a day, because it’s a radical change and may cause physical problems. Begin with 30 minutes a day, see how it feels and then progressively increase your standing time.
Go Get Lunch
Your lunch break can be a great chance to get moving. Don’t order in, don’t drive to your favorite place, don’t take the easy way out. Instead get out and walk to a restaurant or sandwich shop. You can walk at an easy or a brisk pace, it depends on your condition, your mood or the time you have at your disposal. You may not be able to do it every single day, but when the opportunity arises… take advantage of it.
Walk During your Breaks
First of all, make sure to take your breaks. You’re entitled to them. But instead of sitting down doing something else other than work or chit-chatting with your colleagues around the water cooler, go for a walk around the building. It doesn’t have to be long, a short 5-minute stroll is more than enough to keep the blood flowing and to clear your mind.
Start a Friendly Competition
Trying to stay physically active in the workplace on your own can get difficult at times. In order to maintain a high level of motivation and make things more interesting you can involve some of your co-workers in your quest to remain active. Create a fun and engaging fitness challenge, such as for instance who takes the most steps in a week, and establish rewards for the winners.
Track your Physical Activity
It’s important to know how active you are and to monitor your activity. This way you can better understand where you’ve come from, the progress you’ve made and how much you’ve got left until you reach your fitness goal. In order to track your activity you have two options at your disposal: you can either opt for a gadget like Fitbit or a pedometer app like ActivityTracker.
The choice is yours and it depends on your personal preferences and necessities. Just take into account that, besides the additional purchase, a gadget requires charging and you have to remember to bring it with you to track your movement. On the other hand, you always carry your phone with you. You don’t need to do anything, just walk and the app will automatically record your activity during the day: the steps taken, distance covered, active time or the amount of calories burned.
No matter what you choose to monitor your movement, try to wear comfortable clothes and shoes at your workplace. Of course, there may be occasions when it’s required to dress formally or your company may have a particular dress code, but this doesn’t automatically imply you can’t wear a comfortable blazer or a pair of shoes that don’t feel tight across your feet.
As a conclusion, being more active at work is something within your reach. There are numerous activities which you can incorporate into your daily schedule to avoid being sedentary. Some may work, some may not suit your working schedule, but it’s important to try to move more every day.