How to Stay Active at Work: 9 Ways to Sit Less, Stay Healthy
If you spend extended periods of your day desk-bound, it’s critical to incorporate healthy movement throughout your day. Let’s look at 9 tips for how to stay active at work so you can start feeling happier, healthier, and more productive.
The importance of all-day healthy movement
According to research conducted by the British Heart Foundation, adults of working age in England are sedentary for an average of about 9.5 hours a day. People who spend long periods of time sitting have been found to have higher rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and death from all causes. The BHF also maintains that sitting for long periods is associated with an increased risk of poor mental health. Generally, people feel their brains work better when they sit less. The World Health Organisation even listed inactivity as the fourth biggest risk factor for global adult mortality.
But let’s look at the flip side. There are significant benefits to being more active at work and throughout your day. Yes, you’ll burn more calories and reduce stress levels. But your body also will begin to feel healthier and more alert.
Tips for how to stay active at work
We’ve learned that consistent, healthy movement is crucial to overall health. Now, let’s look at some ways you can stay active at work.
Tip 1: Have standing or walking meetings
If you have mobile calls and don’t need your computer, take a walk as you chat. Find a quiet spot where you can easily walk and talk without distraction. If you can, get outside. If you need your computer for meetings, try using an adjustable desk, monitor arm, or monitor riser. That way, you can stand for the duration of meetings. It’s true —movement is the most important part of staying physically active. But simply changing positions from sitting to standing can be helpful, too. Let’s say you’re someone who has lots of meetings. In that case, a commitment to “standing meetings” is a great way to ensure you do this throughout the day.
Tip 2: Wear comfortable clothes and shoes
If you work in an office, it may be tempting to wear only “business professional” clothes. These can often include high heels, tailored fits, and expensive materials. But you can dress professionally without compromising on comfort. Wear clothes that have some stretch or breathability. They don’t have to be workout clothes — they just need to accommodate a bit of movement.
Tip 3: Use an app or wearable fitness device
Fitness monitors or walking monitors are great resources. This is especially true if you’re trying to be more conscious of factoring more movement into your daily routine. These can help you track lots of different data. The most basic devices are designed to track steps taken. However, with their continued tech advancements, most devices now collect data and convert it. You can track the steps, calories, sleep quality, and general activity you perform throughout the day. Some companies even use activity monitors to their advantage and provide incentives like competitions between coworkers — with prizes.
Tip 4: Walk instead of sending a message or making a call
Many companies have returned to in-office work. If this is the case for you, get up and talk to your co-workers whenever you can. It may seem much more convenient to dial a call or send a quick digital message. But ultimately, if you seize these small chances to get away from your desk, it’ll add up. Not only that, your in-person interactions help create a much more robust office culture.
Tip 5: Use your lunch break to your advantage
Eating at your desk and working through lunch is one of the most common ways that office workers miss out on an opportunity to stay active. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, take your lunch break away from your desk and move your body. Realistically, you’re not going to spend the whole time munching on food. With whatever time is left, take a walk and get your blood pumping. You might even do some basic balance exercises.
Tip 6: Get everyone involved
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to get other people involved! It doesn’t have to be an all-out competition. Find some people who will commit to spending more time away from their desks. Make a checklist or spreadsheet. When you ask someone to help you stay on track, it helps hold everyone accountable. You could even try lunchtime running groups or lunch-break stretch classes. Fortunately, you can find lots of resources online that provide easy-to-follow guides. Don’t forget: YouTube can be a great free resource.
Tip 7: Schedule some movement breaks
One of your best assets is the simplest: your phone. It’s as simple as setting a timer or notification to go off every hour. You don’t need to overdo it — just take a lap around the office. Do some chair exercises, like leg lifts to work your thigh and calf muscles. Grab some resistance bands or hand weights to work your arm and back muscles. Scheduled movement breaks can be beneficial, as they provide structure and intention.
Tip 8: Turn waiting time into active time
We often need to remember that waiting time can be well spent. If you’re on hold waiting to speak to an associate, use that time to your advantage. As you wait, take your phone with you and go for a walk. Do some stretches or moderate movement to increase your blood circulation. As you wait for the microwave to finish, reach for your toes. Do some lunges as you wait for your hot water kettle to brew. Small activities like this can add up.
Tip 9: Optimize your workspace for activity
Standing desks have become a novel solution to a sedentary lifestyle. However, there may be better options than using a standing desk. It can be just as harsh on your joints as spending eight hours glued to a desk chair. Treadmill desks can be a great tool, especially if they’re used intermittently, and you can concentrate on your work.
Active sitting, also known as dynamic seating, is an alternative solution. Instead of choosing “one or the other,” sitting or standing, your setup instead encourages diverse movement. An adjustable desk is particularly helpful for promoting physical activity. With an electric-powered motor, you can seamlessly transition from sitting to standing.
An exercise ball or an ergonomic stool are both great tools for dynamic sitting. They can both help strengthen your back and core muscles. Make sure you’re maintaining good posture as you use it and alternate with standing or other desk seating.
How to stay active at work: Start small and find routines
When it comes to exercise, it shouldn’t be a once-a-day event. By incorporating some of these easy tips, you’ll hopefully see improvements in your overall health and wellness. If you’re looking for one of the best solutions for staying active at work, check out the other well-being resources offered by Sedus. We offer state-of-the-art, ergonomic furniture solutions that keep you comfortable and encourage musculoskeletal health. Contact a representative today to find out more.