The negative effects of our sedentary lifestyles are now well known. In fact, new research shows that sitting all day basically negates the health effects of any other physical activity you do during the day. But for most of us, making a quick career pivot to professional athletics just isn’t in the cards – and if your job is more laptops than lat pull-downs, you have to get creative about finding ways to get moving. Try adding in some of these simple ways to stay active at work and feel the difference it makes in your energy and mood.
1. Set a timer
Set a timer to get up, stretch, and take a walk around the office for about 5 minutes every hour. You can put an alarm on your phone, set a recurring calendar event, or just refill your water bottle enough to ensure that you NEED to get up every hour, if you know what we mean. During these breaks, you can grab something to drink, take a bathroom break, check the mail, go talk to your work spouse, or try some of these stretches.
2. Practice good posture
Place a rolled up towel or small pillow behind your lower back and make sure your screen and desk are up high enough that you aren’t hunched over the desk. If you use a laptop, get a small shelf or even a stack of books to prop it up so that it’s at eye-height. If you find yourself with a lot of tension in your neck and shoulders, consider scheduling regular massages and/or trips to the chiropractor.
3. Work out at lunch time
If you have enough time/flexibility and a shower (or really good deodorant) in the office, head to the gym for a full workout or take a run outside. If the gym isn’t an option, a half hour walk gets you outside, clears your head, and has about a zillion health benefits (hello improved circulation, better mood, lower blood pressure) – all for very little effort. Many offices have a sidewalk or trail nearby, but if not, hit up the nearest park and get on that nature grind.
4. Request a sit-stand desk or stability ball
Request a sit-stand desk or bring a stability ball to sit on for parts of the day. Sitting for 8-10 hours per day can be as harmful to your health as smoking. Splitting your day 50-50 between standing and sitting at a sit-stand desk can help you get up and moving, boost your energy, and relieve back pain.
5. Walk or bike to work a few days a week if possible
If you work too far from home or don’t have a safe route to bike, try scheduling one-on-one meetings or a phone calls as walking meetings. It will keep the meeting from dragging on too long and help get the creativity flowing. Plus, you can rest assured that no one (including you) will fall asleep mid-conference call.
While your job might not offer an active environment, implementing a few easy changes to stay active at work can not only help you feel more energized, but also could add years to your life. So go ahead, we’re giving you permission to spend less time at your desk today – in the name of health!
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