If you’re like the majority of Americans, you spend at least 8 hours at work everyday, and then struggle to squeeze in everything else- including physical activity- into your “leisure time”. This is not surprising since by the end of the day, you’re probably too tired to start exercising.
However, there are ingenious ways to help you work out as you work. In fact, you don’t even have to devote a huge chunk of your time to engage in these activities. All you need to do is to take advantage of these small opportunities that keep you active throughout the day.
Here are 7 creative ways to sneak in exercise at work.
Cycle to Work
Getting stuck in traffic for hours at a time as you commute to work is never fun. But even worse is the fact that it affects your health negatively. Research shows that getting confined in either an automobile or an aircraft for a prolonged period increases one’s risk of venous thromboembolisms. This is a condition where blood in the deep veins of the leg start to clot.
Biking to work is the easiest way to prevent such complications while also helping you incorporate movement into your routine. Furthermore, this study published in the British Medical Journal shows that cycling to work is also associated with a 41% decreased risk of mortality.
Park your car Farther Away
How much time do you spend circling a parking lot just so that you can find a spot that is as close to the office entrance as possible?
Well, according to an analysis carried out by the INRIX, the average motorist spends 17 hours every year hunting for the perfect parking space. Instead of wasting so much time, you should just park further away and walk the rest of the way.
You can leave your home earlier than usual to ensure you have enough time to walk and get to work in time. Also, if you travel via bus, you can alight at a stop or two before your final destination.
Take your Lunch Outside
For many in the corporate world, lunch breaks have become shorter, if not non-existent. Some workers will just slide their keyboards a few inches away and continue typing as they have their lunch.
However, this is the wrong way to spend your lunch hour. The right way is to go out and have lunch.
You don’t necessarily have to buy lunch every other day; you can still enjoy a homemade meal. The important thing is that you take an actual break from your work and have your lunch at a different location. This allows you to add a couple more steps to your daily routine.
Volunteer for the Coffee Run
Instead of having someone else run errands office errands, why not volunteer? Are there documents that need photocopying at the printing station? Or does your colleague need someone to pick up their morning coffee?
Whatever the task, it presents an opportunity for you to move around. So get up and offer to help.
Stand up Meetings
Another creative way to ensure that you’re sitting less and moving more is to have standing meetings. Even though this is a short period to be standing, it improves blood flow significantly.
By comparison, sit-down meetings last 34% longer than standing ones. Sitting for such a long time impedes proper blood circulation to your brain and other body parts.
Take the Stairs
Simple as it is, stair climbing is an activity that has a profound effect on your health. Based on a research published by the Harvard Health Alumni Study, stair climbing reduces risk of death from all causes.
In other studies, stair climbing has been found to burn more calories per minute than activities like jogging and running. All these demonstrate how important it is to take the stairs at work.
But as with any other exercise, you should go about this gradually. If you’ve been taking the elevator up to the 15th floor, don’t start by climbing all those flights on the first day. Try a few floors and use the elevator for the remaining part.
Sparing a few minutes to get up and stretch is an excellent way to stay active.
Mark Alexander, a sports physiotherapist of the Australian Olympic triathlon team, recommends individuals stretch every 30 minutes. According to Mark, this helps to reverse the hunched position that most workers adapt when they sit for long hours.
Here are a few stretch exercises you can try:
- Overhead reach – raise your arm above your head, and reach for the opposite side. Maintain this position for 10 to 30 seconds then repeat on your other side.
- Upper body and arm stretch – with your fingers intertwined, place your hands above your head. Your palms should be facing the ceiling. Next, reach for the sky with your arms while bending your neck backwards.
- Hip and knee flexion stretch- bring your right knee towards your chest. Maintain the pose for 10 seconds, then repeat the process on your left knee. Keep alternating between the two poses till you get a good stretch.
There are plenty of other office stretches you can try, and all of them take just a few seconds to a minute to complete.
Even if you spend most of your time sitting behind a desk, you can still squeeze in a few fitness routines to help you live a healthier life. Opt for the stairs and not the elevator, run quick errands yourself as opposed to sending someone else and bike to work. Also, try parking your car farther and walking the rest of the way and schedule standing meetings.