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Charlotte Grainger

By Charlotte Grainger

How to sneak extra exercise into your workday

office work and exercise

Working nine-to-five – what a way to make a living. While many of us work desk jobs, we often overlook the health consequences they have. If your workday consists largely of you sitting in front of a computer, you may want to consider how this affects your health.

The truth is that leading a sedentary lifestyle is a killer. That’s no overstatement. A recent review published in the British Medical Journal suggests that sitting for too long each day could be the cause of 5,000 UK deaths every year. Needless to say, there’s only one way in which to combat this problem. Get up and get moving. Now.

While heading for a quick jog around the office is a bit extreme, there are plenty of ways in which you can get more active. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some simple tips that will help you to sneak some extra exercise into your workday.

Quit sending endless emails

Are you a chronic email-sender? If you find yourself writing out a load of messages to your co-workers on a daily basis, something needs to change. Rather than emailing Sarah to let her know that her report is due tomorrow, why not get up and head over to her desk? Face-to-face interactions are clearer and more likely to build bonds with your colleagues. What’s more, they get you out of your seat and moving around the office. Win-win.

Take regular active breaks

What is the breaks policy in your office? It could be time to find out. If you can take regular five-minute breaks throughout the day, it could boost your health and productivity. One report from the Harvard Business Review suggests that they could help to improve your focus and attention. Take short periods out of your day in which to get active. Flow through some stretches while waiting for the kettle to boil. You could even keep some small weights in your desk and use them when you get the chance. You’ll be surprised at how even a few minutes of movement makes you less susceptible to seizing up.

Try some ankle weights

While we’re on the topic of weights, here’s a trick that you may not have considered. You can get ankle weights that strap to the lower part of your leg. Wearing these nifty pieces of fitness gear during the day means that you can stay active while you work. Simply lifting your legs up and down beneath your desk will help you to work on your muscles. It’s a small change to your everyday routine, but it could make a huge difference.

Stand while you work

Standing desks have surged in popularity in recent years and it’s plain to see why. Last year, research published in the British Medical Journal suggested that standing at work could improve work engagement and lower levels of tiredness. Of course, whether you are able to get a standing desk at your workplace will depend on your specific company. If you happen to work in a traditional office environment, it may not be a viable option. Speak to your manager or the HR department and inquire about this alternative option.

Schedule walking meetings

Most professionals’ workdays are packed with a whole variety of meetings – both long and short. The next time that a coworker reaches out to you about having a meeting, why not suggest a different tack? Ask them to have a ‘walking meeting’, i.e. take the conversation outside and walk around as you speak. This particular idea might catch on in your office. Before you know it, all your meetings could be active ones.  

Work on your abs

If you can’t physically get up and start moving around, it could be worth focussing on some of the moves you can do at your desk. One of the simplest ways to workout on the down-low is to tense your abs. You can do this activity without anybody around you knowing. And it will really help to improve your posture and back health. While you’re sending emails or writing up a report, set a timer on your computer for five or 10 minutes. See how many times you can tense and release your core. If you want to go one step further, try sitting on an exercise ball at your desk instead of a chair to keep your core constantly firing.

Conclusion

Becoming more active during the workday is a difficult feat. However, if you take the time to consider these inventive tips, you may be able to boost your exercise levels and overall physical health. It could be worth speaking with the management team about this issue and asking for their input too. Remind them that a healthy workforce makes a healthy business and you should get far.

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