You’ve probably heard for years that incorporating exercise into your everyday office routine is the key to losing weight. But did you know that movement may also be instrumental in lowering your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes? We don’t mean this in the obvious way that exercise is healthy; we mean that sitting all day is actually killing you, not to mention wreaking havoc on your musculoskeletal system.
But don’t worry. With just a few subtle tricks, you can sneak movement into just about every aspect of your daily office routine. We asked Lisa Harris of Austin HealthWorks for her top 5 tips.
1. Stretch at Your Desk
You’d be surprised how much movement can happen right at your desk. When you’ve only got a few seconds, Harris recommends simply reaching up and out, and bending forward. This will challenge your muscles to stretch in new and stimulating ways before you return to your standard desktop position.
2. Make the Most of Your Lunch Break
Sure, lunch breaks are supposed to be for, well, lunch, but they’re also a great time to go for a walk, head to a quick yoga class, or lift a few weights at the gym. Not only will this get your heart pumping, but you’ll feel more refreshed and ready to focus when you return to the desk.
Even if you’re actually eating during your lunch break (hey, we won’t fault you for that), you’ll see a benefit just from the movement it requires to leave your desk and eat elsewhere.
3. Use an Adjustable Desk
You’ve probably heard a lot of talk lately about the benefits of standing desks. We’ve certainly talked about them a lot here on the Goldtouch blog. And it’s true, standing throughout the day comes with a myriad of benefits, as it forces you to engage your leg muscles and core. However, standing is also tiring, and it won’t be great for your body if you adopt an awkward position to give your muscles a break. That’s where adjustable desks come in, allowing you to move fluidly between sitting and standing. This way, you can benefit from the support of a chair, while also working your muscles as so desired.
For companies where standing is relatively new, Harris recommends group standing workstations, which are less expensive than individual standing desks and which allow interested employees to give standing a try before investing more fully.
4. Take Regular Breaks
From your back to your eyes, it’s important to change your position regularly and use your muscles in new ways. Breaks are also a great excuse to sneak a little more movement into your day, whether that’s walking to the bathroom, or standing while you ask a colleague a question rather than emailing them. Harris recommends programming Outlook, your phone alarm, or anything else you’ve got to prompt you into movement every hour even when you’re feeling great, or every thirty minutes if you’ve got discomfort or an injury.
5. Walk, Run, or Bike to and From Work
There’s nothing worse than sitting all day just to sit in your car while you’re stuck in traffic. If you’re close enough, try walking, running, or biking to and from work, or at least part of the way. Even public transport can be a healthy route, as it often requires you walk quickly from one stop to the next, and then to your final destination.
The office may be uniquely geared toward a sedentary lifestyle, but with a little motivation and creativity, it doesn’t have to be that way. How do you sneak movement into your everyday routine? Let us know in the comments below.
Lisa Harris graduated from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 1997 with her degree in Occupational Therapy. Through her work with Austin Health Works and beyond, she has gained a breadth of experience in developing ergonomic programs for companies ranging from 50+ employees to multinational corporations. She has an extensive knowledge of workplace injuries, prevention and therapy, and enjoys sharing her insights with the world.