Desk Job? No Problem!
Tip and tricks to incorporate healthy habits into your work day
There is no denying that spending large amounts of time sitting has been found to lead to a host of health problems; including obesity, back problems, and even early death. According to a study by the American Cancer Society, people who sit for six hours or more a day have a 19% increased risk of early death compared to those who sit less than three hours a day. Well, “Ok then,” you say, “I’ll just make sure I move around and I don’t sit too often.” Sounds easy, sure, but what about the large majority of workers that have desk jobs? Is there hope to maintain a healthy lifestyle, get adequate physical activity and be fit if you sit at a desk all day? Yes, there is!
Here are eight things you can do to make sure you are keeping yourself active, despite being “stuck” at a desk:
- Take a Stand — Standing desks are a thing, people. You can buy them already made, make one if you are handy or simply raise up your current desk on risers or cinder blocks. Keep a stool handy if at some point you need to take a load off, otherwise make sure to stand throughout your day. When it comes to being healthy, it definitely is going to be a large improvement over spending that time sitting.
Depending on your office set-up, there are even standing desks that can position over a treadmill so you can walk while you work. Whatever solution you gravitate towards, the important thing is to focus on breaking up your time sitting. You can do this with small bouts of activity, standing and stretching.
2. Have a Ball — Do you absolutely have to have a chair? If so, try a large physio ball. You can buy a ball chair or just use any physio ball really. Just make sure it is large enough to be a comfortable sitting height and when you do need to sit, you have an instant way to challenge your core and improve your balance.
You can also do exercises on the ball when you are taking a few minutes to stretch. Crunches on the ball not only provide a good workout but also help challenge your balance and work-out your whole body. A ball can also provide a great tool for some back stretches.
3. Deny the Donut — Has this happened to you? You hit a mid afternoon slump and drag yourself to the break room for a “must have” coffee and donut to help power yourself through the day? Stop! Keep a handy supply of pre-portioned, healthy snacks (think almonds, apple and peanut butter, greek yogurt) at the ready. When you hit that slump, stand up, grab your healthy snack and take a quick walk. This is going to give you the energy you need and get you moving so it is doing double duty! Also, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help fuel your muscles and boost energy. The Mayo Clinic recommends about 15.5 cups of fluids a day for men, and 11.5 cups of fluids a day for women.
4. Multi-Task — Sneak in your activity while you are having a meeting or conference call. Go hands-free with your phone calls and do some arm raises or curls with light weights. Have a meeting scheduled with a colleague? Maybe you can have your meeting while walking a few laps instead of sitting in a stuffy conference room.
You would be surprised when you get a little creative how you can sneak activity into your normal routines. March in place while checking emails or do a quick work-out while you are listening to a podcast for work. Don’t let yourself fall into the excuse trap of “I can’t, there’s no time.”
5. Break it Down — No, I don’t mean start dancing all over your office, although that would be great exercise and probably help improve your mood. Depending on your dancing ability you may even make a few coworkers laugh. I’m talking about giving yourself organized breaks to take a quick 2 minute stretch, do some jumping jacks, just move in some way.
Don’t leave this up to chance either. Especially if you are the type to get really engrossed in your work and lose track of time. Set a timer and make sure you are getting up and moving every hour.
6. Take The Stairs — This is an oldie but a goodie, we’ve all heard this one, but it’s for a good reason. If you work on an upper floor and are able to walk up stairs then take the stairs. If your floor is ridiculously high up and you can’t do the whole thing, take them as far as you can and ride the elevator the rest of the way. “Baby steps” is a theory that absolutely applies to real adult steps, too. Do as much as you can, and increase the number of steps you take each day until you can do the entire building!
Don’t just limit your stair climbing to when you arrive and leave work. Take a quick break to walk up and down the stairs, use the stairs when you need to visit a colleague on another floor or walk up and down the stairs while on a call. It’s exercise “equipment” that is always there and ready to use, easy to understand and will never fail to give you a good burn if you really use it.
7. Make it a Team Effort — A lot of companies nowadays are starting to recognize the importance of good health and fitness and its effect on productivity. Many businesses are incorporating gyms into their buildings, giving increased break times to be able to grab a quick workout during the day or simply offering organized times of day where employees can get together and be active, take a walk, etc. If this is not your office, then grab a fellow colleague or two that has similar health goals and be accountability partners. Do lunch breaks together and take a walk, remind each other to take breaks throughout the day and stretch, etc. Having someone hold you accountable, and likewise, having someone counting on you to hold them accountable will help you stick with your plan and not give in to the temptation to just sit and stay.
8. Become a Hero — For more information and inspiration, you can join the Leavell’s Heroes group on Facebook. We offer check-ins and support as well as constant advice and encouragement.
Regardless of your job, staying healthy and being fit IS possible. Desk jobs can definitely present some extra challenges, but they are easily conquered when you have the knowledge of how to overcome them. I hope you will give these tips a try and find yourself on the road to a healthy and fit you. Make sure to check out my other blogs for tips and tricks on fitness, nutrition and how to create a healthy lifestyle.