Staying Fit and Healthy During the Workday
A stiff neck, an achy back, and a general feeling of creakiness—sitting for hours at the office isn't doing your body any good.
According to the Mayo Clinic, research shows that sitting for long periods of time (at the office, in front of the TV, during long car rides, etc.) is linked to many negative effects on the body, including: heightened chances of obesity, high blood pressure, and sugar, as well as increased risk of cardiovascular disease and shorter lifespan.
Whatever your exercise of choice is, staying active even for small breaks during the day can help reverse these effects. Staying fit at the office can be as simple and discrete as it has to be, or a fun and friendly break for the entire office. Here are five easy ways to get your body moving and your energy levels rising.
Using a balance ball chair does engage your core more than a regular chair, but to really get rid of all the sitting you do, invest in a stand-up or convertible desk. According to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, desk job workers should stand or engage in light activity for two hours of their day, and slowly increase this standing time to four hours over a gradual period of time.
Options include fully convertible workstations that move up and down to your liking, as well as shelf contraptions that sit on a normal desk to make it taller. (You can also always make your own with a few crates and large boxes or books). To up the fitness factor even more, try a balance board that is made for the office, which will not only have you standing throughout the day, but will also be working your core and balancing skills, too.
Getting up and moving in the office can help, but there are times when we do just have to sit. Keep your chair at a height where your feet are flat on the floor, your knees and hips are at a 90 degree angle, and your lower spine is flat against the back of the chair.
Have a Mobile Lunch
Take your lunch break, but take it outside or to the gym—you can always nosh afterward while at your computer to really maximize your exercise time during your break. Go for a walk outside or hit up a quick class at the local yoga studio. You'll be able to ditch the coffee, too, since moving will re-energize you for the rest of the day, as will getting outside for a breath of fresh air.
Walk It Out
Whenever you can, take a few extra steps. Head to the farthest bathroom, use the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk over to your co-worker's office rather than sending an email. Try to take meetings outside or go for a "walking meeting" when you can—studies have shown that creative output increases by an average of 60 percent when a person is walking, as compared to sitting. What more reason do you need? Hello, promotion!
Just like you need to take standing and walking breaks, incorporate stretching breaks, too. These can be as simple as a few neck and shoulder rolls, cross-body shoulder stretches, or a chest/shoulder opener with hands clasped behind the back. For larger stretches, sit with one leg crossed over the other, and lean forward for a hip, glute, and lower back stretch (similar to a figure-four pose), or extend your legs in front of your chair and lean forward to stretch out your hamstrings. If you can't remember to stretch it out every once in a while, set a timer or use an app like Stand Up!, a workplace timer that reminds you to take a break and move a little.
Break for Fitness
If your office is a more relaxed one, start a Fitness Friday where every hour there are push-up, wall sit, or squat contests. If you need something a bit more discrete, cross your legs and feet in a sitting position on your chair. With your hands on the arm rests, tighten your core and push yourself up, raising your body away from the chair; hold for as long as you can, and repeat five times to really get your core muscles working. For your legs, sit straight in your chair, and raise one leg out in front of you, engaging your quads. Hold for a few seconds, then raise even higher and hold again. Repeat on each leg until you've got that wobbly, Jello feeling.