Bust Your Sedentary Workday!
Holla! Raise your hand if you’re like me.
You spend too much time on your butt.
I know, that’s a little inelegant. But for many of us, it’s true. While you may have a gym membership or work out regularly, your job (like mine) requires sitting at a computer for long periods of time. Consider these stats for a sec:
On the average, Americans spend 11 hours a day sitting
Women are more likely to lead sedentary lives than men
$24 billion a year is billed in medical expenses caused by sedentary lifestyles
20% of all deaths of people aged 35+ are attributed to a lack of physical activity
Physical inactivity contributes to anxiety, depression, risks for cardiac disease and cancers
That’s a little sobering, isn’t it? Even if you sit for only 8 hours a day, you’d have to exercise 60-75 minutes per day to offset the effects. Let’s be real — most of us are not going to do that. So, what can we do?
Take mini breaks throughout your work day.
I do a lot of writing, billing, designing, and social media, so much of my work day is sitting at my computer or another desk. And because I’m a self-described super focuser, I can easily sit for hours when I’m really concentrating on what I’m doing. Great for my productivity; not so great for my health.
I’ve learned to do a number of things to keep active, including mini workouts like this one (click to print it out and tape to your office wall:
I often do a variety of the “20 of this and 20 of that” physical activity, but this mini workout is very typical for me. It gets my heart rate up, re-energizes me, gives my muscles a stretch, and makes me feel good.
Experts say that we should aim to get up every 30 minutes from our desks — but you don’t have to do a mini workout each time (although you could). Do one of the following:
Go to the bathroom and then get some water
Stand up at your desk and stretch for a couple minutes
Check your phone messages while standing up
Go for a quick walk around your building/office/backyard
Go outside and check on your garden, animals, or whatever’s going on back there
It doesn’t need to be a 20-minute break every half hour — just something to quickly get you up on your feet and briefly moving.
And if you work at a company, talk with your boss or HR department about ways to create a healthier work environment, like:
Organizing your co-workers to take a brisk walk at lunchtime
Making catered meals/breakroom snacks include healthier options
Adding workouts to an empty conference room 3x a week. No budget for an instructor? Follow along with an exercise video on YouTube. (Check out Yoga with Adriene)
Considering stand-up desks (great for home offices, too!)
If you need some examples of what other companies do to show to your boss, consider my brother Carl’s employer, National Instruments, here in Austin. They encourage various walking clubs, daily step challenges, Fit Camp classes, and group exercise classes.
Here’s the deal, y’all — we’ve got one body. ONE. And what you put into your body and how you move it directly impacts all parts of your overall health — how you feel, how you sleep, how you interact with people, how productive you are. So we’re going to pinky pact, ok?
Pinky Pact: We’re going to get up from our desks every 30 minutes and MOVE.
Please let me know if you or your company has an new or unusual way to keep active during the workday — drop a comment below!