Researchers proclaim that sitting in one place for extended periods of time days on end can lead to serious health problems in the long run. Heart diseases, a higher risk of diabetes and mental health issues like depression and anxiety are merely a few of the many problems stemming from staying seated for 8 hours daily.
After debunking the “advantages” of standing desks, experts say that the best way to combat this situation is by scheduling small bits of exercise into any given work day on a regular basis. However, if you don’t quite feel comfortable doing push-ups and burpees in the open office in front of all your colleagues, there are other practices that can make you move around without making a fool of yourself.
Here are 5 ways you can incorporate some more exercise into your daily office routine without feeling like a weirdo:
1. Take the longest route
Do you have a question to ask your colleague who is sitting at the opposite side of the building? Why not walk over to her, if your itinerary allows, instead of sending her a quick text message? Need to take a bathroom break? Try walking to the restroom that is furthest away from your desk instead of using the one located near your work space.
If you drive to work (even though walking or biking might be more beneficial to your health), aim to park at the end of the lot and walk from there instead of striving to get the parking spot that is closest to the entrance. Take the stairs instead of riding the elevator if time allows. By regularly opting for the longest route, you can seamlessly slip in some exercise without putting in too much effort, and your colleagues probably won’t even notice a thing.
2. Walk around the block during lunch break
The best way to make good use of your precious lunch break, besides eating a healthy meal, is by incorporating some activity into it. Get together with one of your closest colleagues to help motivate each other and go for leisurely walks together on a daily basis (especially if the weather’s nice) to explore the neighborhood where your office is located. This simple routine not only provides health benefits, but it can also help you to be more focused and productive once you return to work.
3. Pace while you’re on the phone
Another way to effortlessly introduce some movement into your day is by regularly practicing the simple act of pacing during the time you’re on the phone with someone. Since you probably don’t need to stay in front of your computer, why not take advantage of this time—stand up and simply walk around your office. A little can go a long way, especially if you’re on the phone a lot!
You can always up the ante and do a few simple and repetitive exercises while you’re talking, like jogging in one place or raising your heels up off the floor and pressing them down to strengthen your ankles, or even bending over a few times with your legs straightened to stretch your hamstrings.
4. Schedule regular active breaks
To make sure that you keep up with the three exercise tactics we’ve presented above, consider scheduling your breaks to be in line with your routine. If you find yourself staring blankly at your screen and feel a temptation to aimlessly start scrolling through your social media accounts, try to stand up and move instead. Once your focus breaks, replace your dull moments with basic 5-10 minute bursts of exercise. These short sequences can be as effortless as a walk to another department and back, but you’ll soon find that they’ll provide you with much greater satisfaction than all those cat photos on Instagram ever could!
5. Turn to simple yoga stretches
When people think of yoga, they often imagine complicated arm-balance poses and seemingly painful body twists which only exceptionally flexible people should ever try. But you might be surprised at the large number of simple movements you can do, even from the comfort of your office chair, that can greatly help your posture, clear your mind and benefit your muscles. Wrist and finger stretches, desk ‘chaturangas’ and seated crescent moon poses are just a few examples of the many yoga poses you can do at your desk to relieve stress and tension in your body, without putting in too much effort.
The best things for your health would be to try and squeeze all these small bouts of movement into your office hours on a daily basis. But even if a regular practice is not on the cards for you, still remember that every small step counts and it’s always better to do at least a tiny amount of exercise than nothing at all.
So, if you forgot about your lunch break walk, you can still do a few stretches, take the longer route to the bathroom or walk over to your colleague instead of messaging them—your future self will surely thank you for it!