Being sedentary for long periods of time is, medical science now understands, extremely bad for your health. There’s a phrase in health and fitness that has become popular recently – “Sitting is the new smoking.” And when you look at the research, it’s hard to disagree.
These ten ideas will help you stay active even when you’re deskbound at work.
1. Take activity breaks
When you have some time off, don’t just stand around the water cooler or grab a chair in the break room. Take a walk, jog up some stairs or stretch. If you’re feeling especially intrepid, you can even find a private corner and do some push-ups.
2. Organize fitness groups
Exercising at work is a lot easier and less weird when you do it with others. Try setting up a regular walking group for your lunch hour. It will help you strengthen social bonds, too, which can definitely help job security.
3. Plan work trips around fitness
If you’re going to be embarking on travel for work, pick lodgings that have fitness facilities in them. Even a crappy treadmill or a pool is enough to make a difference. If you have light-weight, easily packed equipment like jump ropes and resistance bands, you can throw those in your luggage, too.
4. Stand up whenever possible
Staying in a seated position for hours at a time is brutal on your body. Whenever it’s not completely weird, get out of your chair. If you have to take a call, do so while standing.
One trick you might try is to drink a ton of water. It’s good for you anyway, and having to pee a lot will force you to use your legs.
5. Keep workout equipment at work
If it’s plausible to keep dumbbells at your desk, you can use them to do a wide variety of exercises. Resistance bands are also great. Use them when you have downtime or don’t need your hands to work.
6. Speed up
An easy way to increase the value of the interstitial exercise you do at work is to simply do it faster. If you’re taking the stairs, try jogging them. If you’re walking, walk fast.
7. Consider a standing or treadmill desk
Standing desks have gotten popular lately. They are perceived to be a healthier alternative to chairs. But if you remain standing in one spot for long periods of time, it can cause leg and foot problems.
One alternative is a desk that can be raised and lowered, so that you can alternate between sitting and standing. The Varidesk is the most popular model.
Treadmill desks are also a good idea. The commercially available models are expensive, but you can actually jury-rig a DIY treadmill desk for cheap. Do a YouTube search for “DIY treadmill desk” for ideas.
8. Don’t drive to work
This isn’t plausible for everyone. But if you live close enough to your job to walk or bike, you can massively increase your daily amount of exercise by doing so. If you do drive to work, park far away from your building. Every little bit adds up.
9. Bring fitness balls and foam rollers to work
If you can do so without incurring the consternation of your boss, bring an inflatable fitness ball and/or a foam roller to work. Don’t replace your chair with the ball – despite popular belief, it’s actually not great for you. Use it to stretch or exercise during breaks. A foam roller is also wonderful for reducing aches and pains.
If you want to really work on yourself, bring a racquetball. They’re inexpensive and when you lay on them, they are an extremely effective and accurate way to pinpoint-massage trouble spots.
10. Suggest walking meetings
Walking meetings are trendy, but they’re also healthy. If you have to have a conversation with a boss, employee or coworker, suggest doing so while walking.