If you work in an office, chances are, you’re sitting more than 8 hours daily. For many people, that’s more than half of their waking hours. With all the health hazards associated with a sedentary lifestyle, here are some easy ways for any office worker to stay active without going go the dreaded gym.
Bike or walk to work
Can’t find time to work out? Then it’s time to get your old bike from the basement, dust it off, pump up the tires and start a new routine of cycling to work.
A British medical journal published a study, which confirmed that biking to work is linked to a considerably lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease- and early mortality.
Alternatively, you can walk to work if the distance between your home and workplace is reasonable.
Not only does walking help you to stay active, it also makes you feel less stressed. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of East Anglia showed that workers who switched from driving to either walking or biking experienced greater well-being, particularly when it came to their concentration levels.
Stand up regularly
Companies that sell standing desks advise workers to substitute the conventional desks with these standing desks. According to them, standing desks have several benefits and fewer health risks. These benefits include reducing back pain and mitigating risk of weight gain.
However, there’s a growing body of evidence that shows that standing for too long is just as risky as prolonged sitting. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology indicated that occupations that involve standing for extended periods are linked to a 2-fold risk of cardiovascular disease compared to occupations that involve prolonged sitting.
The secret to avoiding health problems associated with either prolonged standing or sitting is to practise moderation. In other words, you shouldn’t sit or stand all day. Instead, ensure you get up and move around frequently.
Guidelines highlighted in the British Journal of Sports Medicine urge desk-based workers to stand for two hours during a 8-hour workday. They should then increase this gradually to four hours.
Find a Reason to Move More
This may sound like a no-brainer. But when you’re so engrossed in your work, you might not even realize that you’ve been sitting constantly for hours.
In a recent research, it was found that for every additional hour that you continue sitting after five hours, your waist size increases by 2 centimetres, and your risk of developing heart disease rises by 0.2%.
Therefore, you should be creative and find a good excuse to move every few hours. For instance, you can:
- Take the longest route – whether you’re going to the breakroom or to your supervisor’s office, take the longer route so you can get more steps.
- Have meetings on the go- forego holding meetings in the conference room and instead, take a stroll with your employees.
- Pass on emails and instead take your news directly to your colleagues- not only does this keep you active, it also builds your interpersonal skills.
- Find a sandwich shop further down the street – humans are creatures of habit, which is why most people go to the nearest cafe everyday to get their lunch. But you can change things up a bit and find a new and distant shop to buy your lunch from.
Redesign your Work Environment
If you have the time and budget, redesign your workplace to encourage mobility.
Begin with your cubicle. Start seeing it as more than just a place to work, but stretch and even do simple exercises. Following some basic rules of office ergonomics can go a really long way.
If you’re in a leadership position, focus on making the stairs a more attractive choice for everyone at work. One study shows that using a staircase is a good way to burn more calories.
All too often, you will find that elevator banks are centrally located while stairs are somewhat hidden and poorly lit. Some building owners even prevent access to these stairs (for fire code purposes). There’s also the fact that some staircases look spooky.
If you want to encourage your employees to stay active, you will have to redesign those stairs and make them more attractive. By redesigning we mean installing the staircase in an open, brightly-lit area. Not to mention that it should be wide enough for numerous people to use it at once.
If the elevator is the only way to get to your office, then consider adjusting its settings. You can program it to stop every two or three floors. This will encourage people to walk the rest of the way to their offices. If you cannot redesign your workspace in any sort of way, then consider relocating to a more ergonomically-designed building.
Wouldn’t it be great if we all worked for organizations that offer lunchtime yoga classes and in-office gyms? Unfortunately, this is not the reality for most office workers, which is why you have to take an initiative to stay active at your workplace. Start by cycling or walking to work. Next, ensure you stand regularly; within a typical 8-hour workday, you should stand for two to four hours. Also, look for reasons that encourage you to move about instead of remaining seated at your desk all day.