Active at work

What does your work week look like?

We generally spend five days per week at work. That’s a total of 39 hours. Over a year, that number jumps to 2028. You can see where I’m going with this. This is a tremendous amount of time that the average person spends at work. More importantly, during that time, most people are quite inactive, especially those that work desk jobs.

Being sedentary for prolonged periods of time has been shown to have adverse health effects, even in otherwise active people.  Being inactive throughout most of the day leads to weight gain, high blood pressure, back problems, poor posture, and even more severe issues such as heart problems and an increased risk of developing diabetes.

Now, you might be thinking: “Great theory, but I’m at work, and I actually need to be working.”

However, breaking up the monotony of sitting with physical activity (be it light stretching, jogging in place, or taking a walk around the office) every so often will actually improve your productivity. This is because movement creates blood flow, carrying oxygen to your muscles, increasing your energy, lifts your mood and gives you a short break away from work to gather your thoughts and get back with a fresh mind.

To try and counter these adverse effects, most people set aside time outside of work for exercise. They lift weights, do yoga, go running, cycling, etc. And these activities are great. As regular exercise provides many health benefits, reduces the risk of developing many diseases, and boosts our mental well-being and mood.

However, it is still vital that we find ways to be more active throughout the day, and while at work. Sitting for even short periods will begin to shut off your neural receptors that stop your bodies natural calorie burning metabolic process. Finding a way to regularly move, stretch, and get the blood flowing throughout your work day will ensure you expend more calories during the day, maintain good health, and reduce the risks of developing poor posture and back issues.

1. Add brief work breaks every hour or so

Not only will moving around boost your energy, mood, and productivity, but it also helps you stay more active at work. And you don't need to train for the Olympics. Every 20 minutes, get up, stretch your body a bit, walk around for a minute, then sit back down.

Once every hour, take a 2-5 minute break to move around. This can be a simple walk around your building, some push-ups on the edge of your desk, squats, or light jumping jacks. You don’t have to overtrain yourself; you just need to move around. Aside from that, you can strategically use your lunch break to take a walk outside, hit the company/local gym, or even do some bodyweight exercises in the office.

Here’s an idea: If there’s a park or something similar near your work, take a walk to it every day and have your lunch there. You can also gather a group of like-minded colleagues and do sporty activities together. This not only makes them more exciting but also keeps you accountable.

2. Take up tasks that require movement

An excellent way to break up your sitting time at work is to take up some tasks that require movement. This is a brilliant way to break up your sitting time and also get work done at the same time. This could be many things:

  • •    Delivering a message to colleagues instead of mailing them.
  • •    Taking the stairs instead of an elevator.
  • •    Standing instead of sitting while in a longer meeting, or have a walking meeting.
  • •    Taking frequent trips for water. This will also make you go to the toilet more often which also creates the opportunity to break up sitting.
  • •    Move your bin away from your workstation so you have to get up and walk over to it if you have to throw something away.

Small changes add up!

Reference: MedilinePlus, Health Risks of an Inactive Lifestyle,https://medlineplus.gov/healthrisksofaninactivelifestyle.html

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