Does your job require you to sit at a desk or around conference tables for several hours per day? Many health risks are associated with sitting down for prolonged periods of time.
Research has demonstrated that sitting for an extended period is linked with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and an increased risk of death from heart disease and cancer. Adding regular physical activity into your working day could reduce some of the health risks that are elevated by being sedentary.
One study found that doing just 30 minutes of activity on 5 days each week — such as going to the gym, cycling to work, or going for a lunchtime walk could prevent 1 in 12 deaths globally. Being physically fit can also protect against some of the harms of stress in the workplace. When working at a desk for 7–10 hours per day, finding opportunities to be active can be a challenge.
These are our six easiest ways to get more movement into each workday:
1. Stand up regularly.
Researchers believe that incorporating standing and walking behaviours into the workday might be more doable for workers than targeted exercise. Recommended work-based standing behaviours include:
- standing or light activity for 2–4 hours during work hours for workers who are mostly desk-based
- using sit-stand desks or standing workstations to break up sitting-based work regularly
- avoiding prolonged static standing, which can be just as harmful as sitting for too long
- altering posture frequently to prevent potential musculoskeletal pain and fatigue
Something as simple as standing up now and then while at work could help curb the related health risks of sitting for too long.
2. Take walks on your lunch break.
Don’t focus on the step count or the minutes, just move more when your schedule allows.
3. Volunteer for the lunch or coffee run.
Go out and get your lunch, coffee or smoothie instead of letting someone else pick one up for you. Even better, you could make it a challenge to try a new place each day for a week, instead of always going for the closest option. These daily activities are a great way to have informal walking meetings or team check-ins.
4. Find an exercise accountability partner.
Having a partner to keep you accountable and motivated can be the key to keeping your healthy habits moving forward.
5. Turn waiting time into moving time.
Waiting for the photocopier, or the microwave, or for those pesky co-workers to vacate the meeting room you’ve booked? Take a little stroll, or even do some small exercises like calf raises, squats or lunges.
6. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
Studies have shown that when you wear comfortable clothes and shoes to work you are more likely to be more active. It makes perfect sense – taking the stairs looks a lot less appealing when you’re in towering high heels or a stiff suit.