Getting Active at Work
Sitting is the new smoking. Studies show that sitting for long periods will increase your risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and early death.
We spend hours sitting at a desks, in lectures, watching films, reading or driving. These sedentary hours can have a detrimental impact on our health, even if you regularly exercise.
The human body loves to move and research suggests you need to move for two to five minutes at least every hour.
Take action, Get moving
Here are some easy tips to break the sitting cycle.
Get Up for Lunch and Coffee Breaks.
Take a stroll to a break room or coffee shop.
Get up to grab a drink: Use a smaller cup: You’ll need frequent refills more often.
Eat lunch and take breaks with a co-worker: Team up to encourage you both to get a change of scene.
Drink more water: Staying hydrated reduces mental fatigue and cramping, and you will take more bathroom breaks.
Move while you microwave: while you heat your food, go for a brisk stroll down the hall and back,or spend a minute or two dancing.
Active food prep: assemble your food while you are standing at a counter or table.
Take a 15-minute moderately-intense walk, Do this twice a day and you will achieve the minimum 30 minute daily physical activity recommendation.
Take a Lunchtime Walk: Use your lunchtime for a 30-minute walk as recommended to reach daily physical activity goals.
Short Activity Break Ideas:
Move for one to five minutes every half hour to break up sitting time and reduce your health risks of sitting.
Dress for Activity
Shoes: If your dress shoes make walking painful, switch to comfort shoes or bring runners.
Clothes: If your skirt or trousers are too tight, loosen up so you can move freely. Your wardrobe could literally be keeping you deskbound.
Add Activity to Your Routine
Don’t text or call co-workers who are just a short walk away. Get up and talk to them instead.
Stand up every time you read or write a text or make calls.
Stand up every time you press send for an outgoing email. How about a flourish—toss a paper airplane and then go retrieve it?
Take walking meetings instead of sitting.
Make stretch breaks part of long meetings or presentations.
Meet colleagues at their desk instead of your own, suggest a meeting spot so you both have to walk there.
Not paperless yet? Stand up whenever you need to print, scan or copy.
Don’t use the closest bathroom, take a longer stroll to one farther away.
Time to Move
Use an app or activity monitor to signal you to move, when you get that alert you can:
March in place: this gets your major leg and hip muscles moving and the blood flowing.
Stand and stretch: Work out the kinks.
Walk while listening to a song: It can brighten your mood and get you moving. Make it functional! Take a stroll to top off your water bottle, coffee or tea.
It’s easy to get caught up in work or watching videos and not realise you’ve been sitting for over an hour.
inactivity alerts are being built into activity monitors, smart watches, and apps. A warning message or alarm gets your attention and prompts you to move.
Studies show walking for two minutes after every 20 minutes of sitting improved glucose control and the body’s insulin response after a meal and improved resting blood pressure. Five minutes of walking each hour improved blood flow in the legs.
Some activity monitors give inactivity alerts if you have been seated or inactive for 45 minutes to an hour. Newer models of Fitbit have vibrating alarms when you’ve been inactive during the hour and haven’t achieved 250 steps.
Use a Treadmill Desk
Set your laptop at a treadmill desk and walk slowly while you work. If you use a tablet, you probably just prop it on the console of most treadmills without modification.
Treadmill manufacturers are producing treadmills without standard consoles, so you can use them with a standing desk. They are also making all-in-one treadmill desks.
If you have a treadmill, you can build your own treadmill desk or buy a kit that will fit over most treadmills.
The key to using a treadmill desk while still working productively is to walk slowly, at one mile per hour or less. This burns more calories throughout the day. You can also use a treadmill while watching video or gaming. Slow walking beats sitting for recreational activities as well as work.
Sit Less Using a Desk Cycle
If you don’t have space or money for a treadmill desk, a cycling desk, under-desk cycle or elliptical pedal machine is a great option to keep your muscles active. You may be able to modify your existing stationary bike or bike trainer to use a tablet or a laptop on an over-bike shelf while slowly cycling. FitDesk makes a desk attachment to fit most stationary bikes. Cycling and pedaling use the major muscle groups in your legs, and logically they are light activity and not sitting still.
Seated Pedaling Study
A study used an under-desk elliptical pedal device for sedentary, overweight office workers and found those who pedaled more were more likely to realise improvements in weight, total fat mass, resting heart rate, and body fat percentage. The workers pedaled an average of 50 minutes during the workday, usually in five-minute bouts. The device recorded that most of the pedaling were at a light intensity, similar to walking at an easy pace. They burned an average of 107 calories, no problems with muscle pain or reduced work productivity. They had fewer sick days. At the end of the 16-week study, most of the group opted to keep the pedal device as they enjoyed using it.
Sit Less With a Standing Desk
You can set up a fixed-height standing desk that will be at the correct height for good ergonomics. You may also have a sit-down desk, and alternate between them, there are many adjustable desks that you can raise or lower throughout the day. Sit when you want, stand when you want. The research doesn’t yet say whether it is enough to stand still rather than sit still. It may take more activity to reduce the health risks of sitting still. If you don’t eliminate your sit-down desk, you can still form habits to stand up during the workday. Stand up during each phone call. Stand up to text or read texts on your mobile phone.
Stand up when a co-worker visits your office or cubicle.
Try an unstable surface to engage your core muscles and lower body muscles while sitting. Many office workers give this a try.
The research has yet to verify whether sitting on an unstable surface is better. Most of the studies just don’t get down to that fine of a detail as to what people are using as a chair. The exercise ball is the classic unstable seat. It keeps you awake at your desk!
If you spend more than 30 minutes sitting during your commute, look for ways to break up that sitting time or to ensure you get two to five minutes of walking before and after.
Before Your Commute
tidy up, take out the bins and recycling, hang out laundry, make sure you have everything you need for the day.
Car commuters: Walk a few minutes before you get in your car.
Bus/rail commuters: Think about boarding at the next stop down the line to get more of a walk.
During Your Commute
Stand up for part of your commute. Give your seat to an elder or pregnant woman. If you stop for coffee or breakfast, park and get out of the car rather than going through a drive-thru.
Get off the bus or rail a stop early and get a little longer walk to your destination. Park farther from your destination so you get a longer walk to work.
After Your Commute to Work
Plan to arrive early and ensure you have at least a five-minute walk before you get to your desk. Enjoy a pre-work walk with a co-worker. Schedule it three or more days per week.
Plan stops on the way home to do some shopping or run errands. Get out of the car and off the bus or train. Take a quick walk to clear your brain of job stress and ease into a pleasant evening.
Walk or Bike to Work
Start an active commute on foot or on the bike to get your heart pumping. It can be a useful tool to get you energized in the morning or help you to clear your mind after a busy day.