Tips for staying active at work
Even though most triathletes would count ourselves as active people, we are not immune to the sedentary culture of many offices that require sitting behind a desk for many hours of the day, which has been proven to be detrimental to long-term health. Here are some tips for staying active at work:
1) Make your commute active.
If you are able to, running or biking to work is a great option. If you live a distance from your office, actively-commuting halfway and then taking public transit for the rest is an option.
2) Sit on exercise ball.
If you can’t afford a treadmill or cycling desk, an exercise ball is a much less expensive way to promote movement and core stability while you work. Speaking from experience, it’s also kind of fun.
3) Try a standing desk.
Countless studies have shown that sitting may be the greatest health risk we face at the office. Investing in a desk that allows you to raise and lower the platform will encourage you to stand up throughout the day.
4) Don’t fill up your water bottle all the way.
This is a trick that I developed to get myself through countless study sessions at university. Each time I filled my water bottle, I would only fill it up a third of the way. This way, I had an excuse to get up, stretch my legs and clear my head every thirty minutes.
5) Take a walk at lunch.
The last thing any person with an office job should be doing on their lunch break is more sitting. You’d be surprised how refreshing even a short walk can be.
6) Pace on conference calls.
The person on the other end of the line will never know the difference and your life will be just a bit healthier.
7) Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
This is one of the easiest options available to us. Depending on what floor you work on, taking the stairs could add several minutes of activity to your day.
8) Schedule a sweat-working meeting.
We’re on board for making sweat-working the new networking. Instead of meeting for coffee or sitting around a board meeting with a potential client, ask them to join you on a walk or even a spin class. We think better relationships are forged with a little bit of perspiration.
9) Make healthy lifestyle office challenge.
Making a communal fitness challenge is a great way to increase morale and relationships in the workplace. Make it a friendly competition between floors or departments to see who can hold the longest streak of lunchtime walks, or only taking the stairs.
10) Take a stretch break.
Interweave your fingers and reach above your head, or cross your arms for eagle arms. Your shoulders and spine will thank you.
11) Set a “stand-up!” alarm.
Even just taking two seconds to stand-up every few minutes can drastically reduce the negative effects of sitting.
12) Get off a stop early on public transit.
All the little things can quickly add up. Getting off one stop early won’t make you late, but it will make you just a bit more active.
13) Park farther away.
Ever been guilty of cruising round the lot a few times, trying to find a spot closest to the door? Well, chances are, you’ll have better luck finding a spot if you check out the back corners.
14) Go on the coffee run (even if you’re not buying anything).
If a coworker says “Hey, I’m going for coffee. Do you want anything?” instead of politely declining, or placing your order, say you’ll come along for the walk. You’ll stretch your legs and likely get to know a colleague better.
15) Invest in a fitness tracker.
Sometimes we forget how sedentary we are, even if we are “fit.” Just because you went for a run in the morning, doesn’t mean that you have a free pass to remain immobile all day. Fitness trackers serve as a reminder throughout the day of how many steps you’ve taken, stairs you’ve climbed, calories you’ve burned, etc. This compels you to realize when you’ve spent the whole day inactive.
If you have a fitness tracker such as a fitbit, I would recommend that runners set the step goal at higher than the baseline 10,000 steps. Runners should be aiming for 10,000 outside of their daily run, so try setting 13,000 as the goal, for more of an appropriate at-work challenge.
16) Write the alphabet under your desk.
This is one of the dynamic stretches that the City Yogis have recommended for beginner runners, but we think it is a good idea for anyone trying to incorporate a little bit of movement into their day. We especially like their idea of writing out an affirmation like, “I can do this” as a mid-afternoon motivational pick-me-up.
17) Don’t let your behind fall asleep.
Staying active can be as simple as remembering to engage your muscles. While sitting in your chair clench and relax your glutes in reps of ten at a time to keep your muscles awake and firing.
18) Try some chair push-ups.
This works best if you have a rolling chair or are sitting on an exercise ball. Engage you core, hold onto your desk with a soft bend in your arms. Lean in and then “push-up” to the start position.
19) Keep your neck rolling.
Neck stiffness is one of the most common results of a desk job. Taking a moment to do some neck rolls will relieve tension and, most likely, some stress.
20) Mind your posture.
Last time I visited my physiotherapist, he could tell that I had started full time at the office. “How do you know that?” I asked him. His response: “your shoulders are screaming it at me.” I thought I was making an effort to sit up straight at work.
Our posture is being slowly eroded by our ever-increasing use of technology. Phones, iPods, computers, they all have us hunched over all the time, making it more important than ever to pause at work for some shoulder rolls and stretches.
21) Download an app.
There is a plethora of fitness apps available out there. We recommend an app like Move, that encourages you to stay in motion throughout the day and offers suggestions for short exercise spurts.