In this modern age, most of us now spend much of our working day sat at a computer all day. Because of this, a large percentage of us are now leading very sedentary lifestyles which can actually carry some quite severe health risks. A constant lack of physical activity can lead to problems such as obesity, heart disease and type II diabetes just to mention a few. I myself try to lead an active lifestyle, but between the hours of 9.00 – 5.30pm each day, I would estimate that 95% of this time I will be sat down working only my fingers while typing on a keyboard or dialling a number on my telephone.
Does this sound familiar to you? If so, you may want to have a read of just a few ways of overcoming this sedentary lifestyle.
1. Getting to and from work
If possible, rather than driving to work do you have the option of walking or cycling? This can be a great way of incorporating some cardio around your working day. This option isn’t always available to everyone, but it can also save you a lot of money on petrol costs and parking. Alternatively if you have to drive to work, consider parking further away from your office so you need to take a short walk to your building.
2. Use the steps, not the lift
When you arrive at your office, if you’re based on one of the upper floors then use the steps instead of the lift or escalator. I used to work on the third floor of our building, and I used to walk with a fast pace up three flights of stairs, and I was always surprised how much even a short amount of activity would get my heart rate up.
3. Take regular breaks
If you’re using a computer all day, then regular breaks are very good for your eyes and concentration anyway. Taking just 5 minutes every hour to stretch your legs, get a glass of water or taking a quite walk outside for some fresh air can break up otherwise long periods of sitting.
4. Watch what you eat and drink
When sat at a desk all day it’s very easy to drink lots of teas/coffees and nibble on foods. Try drinking lots of water, and rather than having a biscuit with your tea or coffee, try eating an apple or banana instead. I have started bringing a 2 litre bottle of water with me that I leave on my desk, and I try to ensure that I drink it all before the end of my working day.
5. Consider a lunch time workout
If you have nearby gym facilities then a lunch time workout is a great idea, but if this option isn’t available to you then even just taking a longer walk to the shops for your lunch can make a lot of difference. If you walked for 30 minutes every lunch hour, that’s 2.5 hours of extra exercise you will have performed per week.
6. Try isometric exercises at your desk
Similar to when you’re on a long plane journey/flight, try some isometric exercises at your desk to keep your muscles active and the blood flowing. I will periodically check that I’m sat up straight and tense my core for intervals of 10 seconds while typing. When I’m thinking I will clasp my hands together and do some simple resistance moves i.e. clasp one hand on top of the other, and push up with one arm (like a dumbbell curl) and push down with the other (like a press to work the triceps) and just hold it for 5-10 seconds at about 30-50% of my maximum. Another regular exercise I do is to clasp my hands together and push towards the centre to work my chest (see picture below).
7. Choose face to face communication over email
If you have the option, get off your chair and walk over to the person you need to speak to instead of sending an email. Face to face communication is almost always better than an email, and it will periodically break up the amount of time you’re sat in your chair.
So there we have it, just a few ways of trying to overcome a sedentary lifestyle at work. Some of these simple activities can also increase your overall productivity at work as they increase your blood flow and the amount of oxygen to your brain, as well as helping to keep you fitter and healthier to hopefully avoid sick days! If you have any other suggestions of overcoming a sedentary lifestyle at work then please comment below.