How to Stay Active at a Sedentary Work Space
With every new piece of technology that makes our lives easier and more convenient, there’s the potential that it can make us more lackadaisical (cough::lazy) in our approach to staying active in our day. No need to even go to a restaurant or grocery store. Click click click, food delivered. Don’t need to walk to a different building to have a conversation with someone. Type type type, conversation had via text or email. Business Insider tells us that 86% of Americans sit for a majority of the day at their job. That doesn’t even factor in the sitting we’ll do at home while we’re eating meals, watching television, or reading. We sit a looooot.
But is it that big of a deal? What if you watch what you’re eating and really try to exercise a few times a week? Is all that sitting actually hurting anything?
Spoiler alert: yeah, it is.
The most obvious issue from sitting or slouching all day is on your joints. You’ll be more likely to have issues with back pain, arthritis, bursitis, and the like. But more than that, it actually gives you a higher risk for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Sitting is one of the most passive things you can do, so it causes your body to go in “coasting mode.” This tells your body to do the least amount of “work,” thereby causing weight gain and all sorts of other troubles. EVEN if you work out regularly.
So what do you do? Walk into the boss’ office and quit immediately.
Just kidding. Don’t do that. But there are things that you can do to squeeze in a little bit more activity while you’re at work.
1. Just move.
Yep, the secret to moving throughout the day is to actually move. You’re welcome. But truthfully, just changing positions semi-regularly is SO helpful. Setting timers on your phone is a great way to remember (but be a good cubicle-mate and turn it to vibrate). Standing once an hour for even a few minutes and then finding a different position when you sit back down can do wonders. You can even add in a few squats without raising too many eyebrows. If you aren’t brave enough for that, start by just standing up and then sitting in your chair a couple of times (just make sure your chair hasn’t rolled away before you pseudo-squat again!)
2. Don’t just take the stairs.
Sure, it’s great advice to bring in a little physical activity. But if you walk up a couple flights of stairs when you go into work and then the next time you do it again isn’t until 5pm, it’s not going to get you a ton of benefit. Instead, go out of your way to take them when you really don’t have to. Every time you fill your coffee cup, walk up and down a flight of stairs (maybe before you fill your cup.) When you take a phone call that doesn’t require you to be at your desk, walk the stairs (you can go slowly on this one so you’re not mouth breathing on your call). My personal favorite, when you’re frustrated with someone or something at work, go walk a couple flights. Not only does it help you stay active, but it can keep you from balling all that tension up. Two birds. One stair.
3. Find an inconvenient parking spot.
If you’re here in AZ, during the summer this might not be such a great idea since we live on the surface of the sun. But when it’s nice outside, finding a parking spot that actually takes you a few minutes to walk to, rather than a few seconds, is another way to add even a few minutes of activity in your day. Especially if you walk out to your car to head to lunch, then you’re doubling your efforts.
4. Walking meetings
Again, when it’s 183,000 degrees outside, not super helpful. Rather than sitting around a conference room table, take it outside! Unless you need a whiteboard or are doing a presentation, walking meetings are a GREAT way to get active in the day. I know it’s not possible for all meetings, especially if they are with a ton of people. Bonus: no matter how boring the meeting is, you won’t get caught falling asleep!
“Sitting disease” might seem silly or made up, but it’s a wide-spread problem here in America. We already have enough tendencies to overeat on processed foods, we shouldn’t be making it worse on ourselves by not moving for hours at a time most days. Simple steps and changes can be the difference maker in your health.