For a large population of U.S. adults, nearly 60% of waking hours are spent without any physical activity, according to a study from 2008. In other words, many of us spend most of our days sitting down and chances are it’s greatly increasing our risk for a long list of negative health effects. The good news is you don’t need to increase your movement by that much, especially if you already have an established exercise routine. It’s not like you need to sprint around the block every hour to stay healthy, you just need to make sure that you’re standing up, stretching and moving around for a few minutes at a time every hour or so. To help inspire you to move more during your work day, we’ve rounded up a list of ten ways you can easily increase your activity without sacrificing productivity.
Everyone is worried about what their coworkers will think if they get caught doing seated tricep dips or leg extensions at their desk. But what’s more important to you, your health or what a colleague thinks of you? Plus, if you explain to your office mates what you’re doing and why, chances are they’ll drop their judgments and join you. Seated exercises like tricep dips, shoulder extensions and even simple ankle flexing will increase your daily activity and also help to relieve muscle soreness and joint stiffness.
I know. You’ve heard it a million times; skip the elevator and take the stairs. But instead of just thinking about it, really do it. Don’t make excuses like, it’s too hot out today, my bag is too heavy or I already went to the gym this morning. It doesn’t matter; your body needs the extra activity. And don’t make taking the stairs an occasional occurrence. Do it every day, every time you enter the building and remember to walk down them, too.
Part of increasing your work day activity will require that you start to get creative. In every situation you should always be thinking about how you can move more. Some ideas: if you take public transportation, get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way, park your car as far away from the door as possible or even experiment with biking to work.
Once you sit down at your desk and begin to work, you’ll be much less likely to move more unless you set up some sort of reminder. Try scheduling breaks into your calendar like you would a meeting or a phone call, or set up an alarm on your phone that goes off every 60 to 90 minutes and make a habit of stepping away from your desk, even if it’s just to stand up and stretch, each time it goes off.
Feel a kink in your neck? Is your lower back feeling a little bit tight? That’s your body trying to tell you that you need to get up and move around. Whenever you feel achy or stiff, use it as an excuse to stand up and stretch or go for a short walk.
Your lunch break is probably the best time to take advantage of racking up extra activity by getting away from your desk. If you bring lunch, try packing it up and taking a walk so you can eat somewhere else. If you have to order out, pick a place you can walk to instead of having it delivered. Or, you could eat at your desk while you work and then use your break to go for a longer walk.
If you have a question for a coworker, take a walk over to their desk instead of sending an email. You’ll get a quicker response and increase your daily activity at the same time.
Again, this goes back to constantly thinking about how you can move more in any situation. Maybe this means using a restroom that’s farther away from your desk or taking the long way to the office break room. Whatever it is, you’ll always benefit from going the extra distance and it won’t take that much time out of your day.
Of course staying hydrated is important to your health, but in addition to helping your body function optimally and increasing your energy levels, drinking more water will help add more activity to your day by forcing you to take more trips to the bathroom as well as to the water cooler when you’re ready to refill.
If you’ve made a habit of spending an entire hour of your work day dining out at lunch, consider investing that money and time in a gym membership instead. There are plenty of different workouts that can effectively improve your health and fitness with just a few minutes of work, leaving you with plenty of time to spend transitioning back to work from the gym scene.