We have all heard about the benefits of exercise for improving our health. But with long work days and busy family lives and personal obligations, setting aside time every day to exercise 30-60 minutes can be challenging. What if you could find ways to get exercise where you work? It is likely that improved health and increased exercise actually makes you more productive while you’re at work, so you might have added incentive. What steps can you take that could improve your physical fitness, your health and wellness, and even increase your work productivity? Here are some tips to improve your health at work:
Use the stairs instead of elevators.
If you have to go up several floors in your building during the day, you might as well get exercise doing it.
Park toward the back of the parking lot and walk into and out of work.
Don’t circle the lot for minutes looking for a spot close to the front door. Park at the back of the lot and walk to the entrance. That extra 100 yards adds up if done every day.
Start a walking club or fitness class after work with your colleagues.
Running, walking, yoga, aerobics, and other forms of exercise with others will improve collegiality among coworkers. Meeting to do it together will provide motivation by making it less likely that you will skip the exercise sessions.
The health risks of sitting too much
Wear running shoes to work.
Bring dress shoes to wear when you start work, if necessary. Not only will the running shoes help with walking longer distances from the parking lot or during breaks at the office, but they will also serve as a reminder to use them if you see them throughout the day.
Break up exercise into small periods during breaks.
While 30-60 minutes of walking is ideal, several 10-15 minute sessions can be effective as well. Look for breaks in your schedule and use them to perform some of your fitness activities.
Replace your office chair with a stability ball.
It is not exercise, per se, but you can improve your core strength by using a stability ball as your office desk chair.
Keep some dumbbells or resistance bands at your desk.
Just like walking during breaks and slow times, weights and other forms of resistance training often require little space or preparation time. A few exercises in each small break can add up to a complete workout.
Replace email and the phone as a means of communication.
Rather than pushing emails back and forth to coworkers, get up and walk to their desks. Talk in person. You might be surprised that you actually accomplish more in less time, and you will burn a few calories each time too!
Tips to decrease sitting time each day
Note: This is a post written for the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine as a contribution to the Be Active Your Way blog organized by the Department of Health and Human Services.