According to the World Health Organization, approximately 3.2 million deaths each year are attributable to insufficient physical activity. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking,” then you know that studies have continued to show that the amount that we sit is directly correlated to our overall health as human beings.
Wake up, grab your coffee, sit in your car, drive to work, sit down at work, get back in your car, sit in traffic, sit at the dinner table, crumple on to the couch after an exhausting day, go to bed, start all over the next day. Sound familiar? If you’re like most people in Ireland, aside from maybe an hour of sweaty cardio per day, this is your normal routine, leading to a whopping average of about 12 hours of sitting every single day. Prolonged sitting has been linked to having a greater risk for colon, breast, and endometrial cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and depression. Bones and muscles require regular movement to maintain structure, and sitting for extended periods of time or with poor posture can lead to lower back, neck and spine pain.
A normal desk job has you sitting anywhere from 8 to 10 hours per day, leaving you at risk for any of the ailments associated with a sedentary lifestyle — and between your job, your kids, and your commute, it might be very hard for you to find the time and motivation to exercise. Getting active during your day at work can help you avoid feeling sluggish, relieve muscles aches and pains, boost both your mood and productivity and lower your stress levels. Here are a few ways you can break the monotony of sitting and get your body moving.
1. Use a stand-up desk
Standing desks are becoming more and more common. Investing in the standing desk will do your body all sorts of good by improving circulation and posture. It will also help you avoid getting antsy — if you start feeling fidgety from sitting, having an adjustable standing desk can be a huge help, giving you the option to either sit or stand.
2. Sit on an exercise ball
Sitting on an exercise ball will activate your core, neck, and back muscles, giving you great posture and keeping you active. Plus, it might just make work a little more fun.
3. Set a timer
Set a timer every 30 minutes to remind yourself to stand up, walk around, or simply stretch out your chest and core.
4. Leg lifts under the desk with ankle weights
There are plenty of subtle ways to keep active in the office while still sitting at your desk. Every hour or two, strap on some ankle weights and practice a few repetitions of leg raises under your desk.
5. Surfboard desks
Surfboard desks are a clever way to keep your leg muscles even more actively engaged while at your standing desk. The contraption is a small platform with a curved bottom, having you balance while mimicking the motions of a surfer. This platform increases your heart rate and engages your core at your desk.
6. Walking meetings
For some meetings, choose to go for a walk so that you can speak to your colleagues. This will get everyone in the office moving, boosting the productivity of the entire office for the rest of the afternoon.
7. Subtle stretches at your desk
Something as simple as stretching at your desk will leave you feeling more refreshed and energized. Lift your arms up over your head and lean back in your chair, loosening your chest and stretching your core.
8. Take a stroll at lunch
Lunchtime is a wonderful time to get outside and walk around. Just strolling around your local neighbourhood during that 30-minute break can boost your mood and leave you feeling refreshed and happier for the rest of the day.
9. Volunteer for the coffee run
Instead of sitting at your desk waiting for your colleague to bring you back your vanilla latte, take the orders and go for the morning walk to grab the drinks. You can even make a game out of it — see how many different coffee shops you can hit in a week.
10. Walk instead of calling or emailing
Modern technology (email, calling, texting) makes it so people don’t ever have to have face to face contact to communicate — kind of a sad sentiment, right? Well, instead of instant messaging your peer about the meeting at 9 am, get up and walk over to his or her desk. This will get your legs moving and also give you a little more social time during the day.
11. Take the stairs
Instead of waiting in the long lines for the elevator, opt to take the stairs. Realistically, it will only take five minutes out of your day, but those five minutes will gain you many health benefits over time.
12. Start an office fitness challenge
People always seem to respond to a good old-fashion competition. Have everyone buy a cheap pedometer and start a log in the office to have people clock in how many steps they take each day. Set a prize at the end of the month for the winner.
The human body was built to move, but the sedentary reality of modern day life prevents us from reaching our maximum health potential. But, you don’t have to sacrifice health and fitness for a normal, routine schedule. Doing simple, active tasks in the office throughout the day will improve your overall health — physically and mentally.
By: Bri Doherty
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