Sitting is a sedentary activity, if you spend your working day sitting, hop in your car and drive home, collapse on the couch to relax for the rest of the evening it’s not a very healthy lifestyle and can lead to various health risks including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. If you think you are off the hook because you go to the gym or workout after work then you may be in for a surprise…
Studies have shown that going to the gym after work or during your lunch a few times a week does not completely counteract the effects of sitting all day – but what can help is movement throughout the day even if the movements are minor.
You can squeeze in extra activity during your day, you just need to think about it differently, the activity doesn’t have to always be going to the gym or going for a run.
Here are some suggestions to get you thinking about what you could do during your working day:
15 Tips to Stay Active At Work
You could be active on your way to work
Think of different ways you can be active whilst making your way to work. There are various forms of transport people take, if you drive park further away from the entrance to your place of work. Try cycling to work. If you take public transport then how about getting off one or 2 stops before your normal stop and walk that extra way.
Go and see your colleagues
Do you use the internal post to send colleagues documents, reports, files, packages etc? Some things still need to be delivered – if the recipient is in the same building then this is easy, take a walk drop it off at their desk. Or do you email and call to arrange meetings, how about going to speak to them face to face to arrange.
Taking a toilet break?
Don’t go for the closest choose on a the floor above/below, go to one further away. Whilst there why not fit in some lunges or squats, it doesn’t have to be many.
Step away from your pc
We spend so much time in front of the pc staring at a screen that it is important to include breaks throughout your day. This gives you a chance to stand, stretch, go for a walk down the corridor or up and down a flight of stairs.
Take the stairs not the elevator
Heard many times before but simple and effective, think about how much extra workout your legs could get if you skipped using the elevator – effort exerted will be minimal.
Lunch break – jog, walk
Go for a jog during your lunch, or if you don’t have showers at your place of walk how about just going for a walk around the block. You will be surprised how much better you will feel after a brisk walk. The key is not to think about work whilst you are on lunch. Maybe you can start a health walk group at your work place and encourage colleagues to join in. Keep an extra pair of trainers at work so you don’t have to reply on remembering to bring some with you.
Walk around the office
Easy if you have your own office but not impossible if you don’t, just get up and walk around for a minute or 2 or at least stretch, you could even fit in some gentle wall push ups. Sitting down all day is not good for you. If you work in a call centre type environment then you may have to suffice with standing on the telephone.
Waiting for your photocopies, a large print job, fax etc.
Whilst standing waiting at the machine why not do some calf raises.
Work from home? Why not raise your desk to standing height, even if you only stand at it for half the day you will burn more calories. Some work places are starting to offer standing desks for staff, ones that can be raised and lowered.
Change the layout of your office
Do you have everything within reach so you don’t have to move from your desk e.g. filing cabinet right behind you or next to your desk so you can just swivel or roll your chair to it. If you move the filing cabinet, book cabinet etc further away then you will be forced to stand up and walk to it, giving you time to stretch, and rest your eyes from the screen etc.
Stand whilst making phone calls
Just the act of standing burns more calories than sitting. Also helpful if you are speaking to someone who is complaining or being difficult, standing up makes you feel more authoritative.
When you are seated think about your posture
Sitting at a desk whether you are using a pc or not can be the cause of neck tension, shoulder tension and back problems. Practicing good posture while sitting and standing can help reduce these effects and also improve organ function and core strength.
Your posture may not be something you are always aware of, it is easy to start the day off well but as time goes by you can slip into a different kind of posture altogether. Especially after you have been sitting staring at your pc for long periods of time or pouring over paperwork. People tend to become more aware of the way they are sitting at their desk when someone comes over with a clipboard and says “I’m here to do your workstation assessment” and suddenly there is some shifting and changing in the way they have been sitting. I am sure many of you have experienced the magic of the word posture being said out loud, whether it is to you or someone else, you start to make adjustments to your position e.g. you probably sit up straighter, move your shoulders back, adjust your mouse/keyboard, if your legs are crossed under the desk then maybe you uncross them etc.
Do the meetings need to be based around a table all the time? If it is just a brief meeting why not discuss the subject as you walk around the block. Or you could stand during the meeting – even easier if it a one where you don’t need to be making notes, although you can still write standing if you have a clipboard.
What’s going on under your desk?
Whilst you are seated why not try some leg lifts.
You could even do some twists to work your obliques whilst seated or how about some stomach vacuums – These are great as you can do them anywhere at any time and no one will know, they are an isolated exercise that will help give you a slimmer waistline and help build a stronger inner abdominal wall:
- Whilst seated, ensuring you are sitting tall and relaxed, breathe out and expel all the air from your lungs.
- Now draw your belly button in towards your spine as far as you can and hold it for as long as you can.
- Don’t forget to keep breathing throughout the move, you will find your breathing is not as deep as normal when doing the vacuums.
Use a pedometer
This will help you see how active you have been throughout your working day and can also add a competitive element e.g. you did xxx number of steps yesterday, how many can you do today?.
OK that’s a few suggestions to get you started, is there anything that you do during your working day that helps you keep active?