After transitioning from grad school where I felt like I was constantly on the go to working a desk job, I was worried that I’d find myself slowing down. To avoid that trap I made a decision that I would prioritize getting physical activity throughout my workday.
It all starts with where I choose to park. We’re familiar with those dreaded “No parking” signs when we’re downtown in some city struggling to find a parking spot. Well I created a personal “no park zone” at work. I won’t let myself park in the spaces closest to my building, but anywhere outside of this zone is fair game. I like the idea of creating a no park zone instead of saying I’m always going to park in the space farthest away from my office building. This gives me more flexibility in choosing a space while ensuring that I’m still getting in a good number of extra steps before I get to my office.
2. I take the stairs.
Once I get into the office building the next step I take, quite literally, is toward the stairs. I work on the fourth floor of my office building so that’s three flights of stairs I climb. The cool thing is that I’ve become known for this among my coworkers and some have even joined me if we’re coming or going at the same time. If I ever have to leave my office for an offsite meeting, I’ll take the stairs then too.
3. I bring a water bottle.
4. I drink a lot of water.
Now you may be thinking, how are these physical activity-related? Well, we’re all familiar with the saying, “What goes in must come out.” Without going into too much detail, more drinking means more bathroom trips. More bathroom trips mean more getting up and walking around.
I keep a large water bottle in my office along with an assortment of teas. I set a goal of going through at least one full bottle a day along with one cup of tea a day. This keeps me hydrated and makes it impossible for me to stay seated for the entire day.
5. I use the fitness center.
I’m fortunate enough to work in an office building with an on-site fitness center. I don’t use it for my scheduled morning workouts, but I do use it during my work day for a 5-7-minute circuit. It’s a great way to wake up muscles that have been resting for a while. Since I don’t want to sweat, I focus on strength moves with free weights or resistance moves. I’ll rotate the circuits each day to focus on different muscle groups like biceps, triceps, quads, or glutes.
6. I take the stairs once before having my lunch and snack.
Yes, stairs again. This may seem redundant but I included it again because I also choose to take the stairs right before lunch. Unlike when I first get to my office building and have to take the stairs to get to my actual office, I don’t technically have to take the stairs again during the day unless I leave for a meeting. Before I have lunch I’ll go down and up the stairs once, and I’ll also do this before having my snack. It’s a good way to get my heart beating a little faster than normal and to take a break from staring at a computer screen.
7. I stand up throughout the day.
The last thing I do is intermittently stand up at my desk. I don’t let more than two hours pass by without standing up for some reason or the other – whether it’s to get my lunch, go to the bathroom, or do work. Even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time it makes me feel better. As a kid I wasn’t a big fan of sitting still, and as an adult nothing has changed!
Those are the 7 things I do every day to make sure I’m moving throughout my day. I enjoy leading an active lifestyle and I’ve come to realize how important the lifestyle part of it is. Even with set time for physical activity, excessive sedentary time isn’t good for our health. Research has linked it to increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and in some cases, this has been independent of time spent being physically active (see Brocklebank et al, 2015; Powell et al, 2018)
I know it can be challenging to get activity throughout the work day. When I first started my job I wasn’t doing all of these things. Over time, however, I came up with a routine that works for me. Hopefully, this gives you an idea or two about how to incorporate more movement throughout your work day.
What are some ways you stay active throughout the day? I’m always looking for new ideas so let me know in the comments below!