Tips to be more active if you sit all day

This has been a topic that’s received quite a lot of coverage in the media over the last year or so.  If sitting is the new smoking, then what changes can you make to keep fit and healthy when you have a desk job?

You may have already read some of the articles that have been written over the past couple of years about ‘sitting being the new smoking’ and how some office environments have invested in sit/stand desks or standing cubicles.

This is all great new information and to some may just be another fad for us to worry about or to get on board and make some big changes.  How do we do this if we own or work for a small business, or have a number of employees? It may not be feasible to make those kinds of investments.

Well, we all should take charge of our own health.  The tips below really are quite achievable and easy to implement into your workday and workplace.

Stand up during meetings
It’s interesting that a lot of office cultures expect staff to sit for long periods of time during meetings, when in fact, it would be beneficial for staff to stand up and move around so as not to get sleepy and to pay attention!  By standing or moving you keep your blood circulating and if you aren’t slumped in a comfy chair, then you are more likely to actively listen.  You could be the first to instil a culture where it is okay to stand for 20 minutes here and there in a meeting – you’ll probably find that others also like to stand up and move around the room, as lots of people get backache or sleepy.

Walk and talk meetings
If you are meeting with one person and you don’t need to write notes or present, then this is an ideal way to get some fresh air during the day and to move whilst doing business.

Stand when you are on the phone
This is a great way to use the muscles in your legs, take a look around the office – especially if you work in open plan and need to take a break from sitting.  Even better, if you have cordless headphones you can walk and talk on the phone!

Do a stair walk during the day
If you have any stairs in your building, set yourself a time in the morning/afternoon where you literally just go up and down the stairs for two minutes.  Two minutes is not a lot of time out of your working day, but you can do a lot of steps in that time. Not only will your heart and lungs thank you, but you’ll strengthen your legs and you may even tighten your bottom muscles!  If you have wide stairs you could get a group of colleagues together to keep motivated on a daily basis.

Walk to a colleague’s desk
Instead of picking up the phone and dialling a colleague’s extension, walk to their desk – not only will you benefit from moving, but face to face conversations are always easier, plus you’ll also build on the relationship.

Sit/stand desk
If you are able to afford investing in a sit/stand desk, or your company is happy to purchase one for you, then make sure you stand for 20 minutes intermittently throughout the day – either set yourself an alarm or base it on how you are feeling.

Morning/lunchtime/evening activity
Today it seems that all the active enthusiasts get up at 5am to do a Bootcamp or run, but then sit all day at work and go home for dinner, then go to bed early to get up early again the next morning.  Although this would raise their heart rate and seem healthy – is it really?  Is it not more natural to also move around regularly throughout the day?  You may have a sedentary office job, but you can start making changes by exercising in the morning, taking a lunch break to be active (even if it’s 60% of your break spent on a small walk), then some kind of activity after work.  You’ll probably find your productivity increases and you are more alert at work.

Take the stairs
If there’s an option to take either the stairs, escalators or lift, then make sure you take the stairs.  This is nothing new – it may take a couple of seconds longer to get somewhere, but you’ll also have more energy, plus more oxygen going to your brain for extra focus.

All in all, it’s really a no-brainer – the more you move, the healthier and fitter you’ll be.  Your body is your vehicle and if you look after it well, it can take you places that you may not otherwise get to in the long term.  You’re the only one that can help prevent the sickness and diseases that can come about from a sedentary life style, so make some changes today and your body will thank you big time!