7 ways to keep active when you sit in an office all day
Posted 20th June 2018
You have a gym membership and run three times a week. You’re super-fit and love hiking up hills when you’re on holiday. Yet for some reason, after a day at your desk you feel tired, unhealthy and a bit fed up.
Sound familiar? Your desk job is the culprit. As little as an hour’s exercise a day can improve your health drastically, you’re not going to feel great as long as you’re sitting down for eight hours a day.
If you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘sitting is the new smoking’, you might be familiar with this concept. Eight hours of stillness or more (think of the extra time you spend sitting on the train and on the sofa) has been linked to weight gain, diabetes, cancer and digestion problems, not to mention poor posture and back complaints.
Luckily, there’s plenty of easy ways to make sure you’re staying active throughout the day without resorting to push-ups in the middle of the office. Here’s how…
Make the most of your lunch hour
Too many people spend their lunch hour at their desk, scrolling through Facebook or catching up on the news. While some use their lunch hour to visit the gym, that’s not always achievable. Instead, if you have a café or a bench area within a 15 minute walk from your office, take your lunch on a walk with you and make the most of the change of scenery. If eating at your desk is unavoidable, make sure you schedule at least half of your break to make time for a fast-paced walk.
Schedule group exercise
Leave icebreakers and team bonding days behind and form friendships with your colleagues over an exercise session instead. Whether it’s a group run, an aerobics video in an empty meeting room or simply a stroll around the block, exercising with others will motivate you as well as presenting an opportunity to get to know your team in a context outside of work.
Use a stand-up desk
We know it’s not always possible in an office environment, but if you’re in a work space that’s flexible and sympathetic to your needs, ask whether you can use a standing desk. They’re available online for a reasonable price and work wonders for all kinds of sitting-related ailments, including posture and back pain, and you can move into a seated position once you get tired.
Climb the stairs
Few people can’t commit a few minutes every couple of hours to take a walk. Even better, if you’re in a multi-storey office block, try climbing the stairs instead. A brisk up-and-down will get your heart pumping and your legs working as fast as it takes to visit the bathroom, and the quick break from the screen can do wonders for your concentration too.
Set a timer
Even if you’re up to your eyes in work, it’s important to take a moment every hour to move away from your screen, stretch your legs and readjust your mind. Far from interrupting your pace, a quick break can improve your focus, and the anticipation of getting back to an exciting project will keep you motivated. Try a fast-paced walk around the office or a couple of stretches in the bathroom.
Perform at-desk exercises
While we’re not suggesting you install a pull-up bar above your desk, there are easy ways to exercise at your workspace without attracting concerned looks from your colleagues (or your boss). Try putting on ankle weights and doing a few leg raises every hour, or give yourself a few minutes to stretch your arms up and reach down to the floor.
Try walking meetings
Do yourself andyour colleagues a favour by suggesting a walking meeting for your next catch-up. As long as you don’t need a screen for a presentation, you can do all your talking while you’re walking around the office, and you’ll all feel better for it too.