For those of us who sit most of the day, it’s quite possible to add fitness to your routine. It will benefit your work and overall health, too. Here’s how.
Many of us sit at least 6 hours each day. If you have a desk job, it’s possible your time in front of a computer screen is a lot longer. Then, in the evening, we sit on the sofa watching TV. Sitting for long periods of time is harmful to our health. The good news, however, is that we can change our routine.
Studies from the journals British Journal of Sports Medicine and Diabetologia and the American Heart Association, show that sitting for long stretches of time increases your risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer. The studies also revealed that although exercise may help, it’s more important to spread out the exercise rather than do it in chunks.
The issue is that we want to get our work done, which is another way of not making time to exercise. After work, we tend to feel too tired to think about going to the gym or taking a walk.
The reality is that exercise gives us energy. “The best time to exercise is in the morning,” said Leigh Stringer, senior workplace expert at EYP, an architecture and engineering firm and author of “The Healthy Workplace: How to Improve the Well-Being of Your Employees — and Boost Your Company’s Bottom Line.” “Exercising creates energy you can use for the rest of your day. That increase in energy will help boost productivity, which can help you power through and better manage stressful days. Most experts recommend that you try to work out in the morning because if you wait until later in the day, you may have difficulties getting to sleep.”
For those of you who work at night and can’t schedule exercise in the morning, the American Heart Association recommends making the time to work out at the start, middle, or a few hours before bedtime.
How to exercise at work
You can start your exercise routine by getting up a little earlier and walking to work. If your job is too far or you need to drive, look for other opportunities to walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and walk around the office on your breaks.
Stringer suggests using the company’s conference room. “My team has observed over 6,000 conference rooms globally over the last three years,” she said. “We know that most conference rooms are used only 25 percent of the time and larger rooms even less than that. So reserve one of these larger conference rooms at a non-peak meeting time (avoid Mondays through Thursdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when most meetings occur) and turn your meeting space into a workout room for yoga, Tai chi, Pilates, or strength training.”
You may be surprised that others in your office will want to join in. Talk to your supervisor and ask if they can hire a yoga or fitness trainer to come in a few times a week. Or you and your coworkers can join a nearby gym and use it on your lunch hour.
Exercises to do at work
The studies on sitting recommend that you exercise throughout the day. You can discreetly do head rolls, arm and leg stretches where you reach your arms overhead and flex your ankles, walk up and down the stairs in your building, take a walk to the water cooler and go the long way, and add deep breathing for relaxation.
Most of us don’t want to call attention to ourselves when we’re secretly exercising at our desks, yet, it’s important to work out. You’ll find that you’ll have more pep and be more productive.
July 20, 2017
Janet O’Dell, RN