The internet has been a-buzz all year with the news that sitting can kill you. Ironic, then, that so many of us read about it while sitting in our cubicles, spines bent, core muscles slack, and heart rates decidedly unelevated.
To combat our sloth, the Department of Health recently released new guidelines advising people to exercise at least two and a half hours per week. Office workers, rejoice: according to the DOH, you don’t have to join a gym. Instead, you can fulfill these requirements by changing a few things about your daily routine. Here are five things you can do to squeeze more exercise into your day.
1. Tell your story walking.
Is there anything more loathsome than a day full of meetings? It’s bad enough to have to listen to your coworkers drone on and on, but knowing that sitting there is literally killing you makes the whole thing into a horror movie. However, if you switch to walking meetings, one of two things is bound to happen: 1) you’ll burn more calories, up to 228 calories during the usual hour-long meeting, or 2) people will stop having so many meetings, because they’d rather sit. Either way, you win!
2. Forget about IM.
Oh, instant messenger. Part electronic leash, part cyber-water cooler, part productivity tool. Thanks to IM, there’s never any need to get up and walk two cubicles down to ask your colleague a question. This saves time, but does very little to stem the tide of the American obesity epidemic. Burn a few more calories by getting up and asking that question in person. It’s also a good excuse to take a break from staring at your computer screen all day: something we could all use.
3. Exercise at your desk.
Some experts believe you can get your recommended daily dose of activity in short bursts — as little as 60 seconds of concentrated activity. That’s good news for cubicle dwellers. Sample exercise: “While seated, pump both arms over your head for 30 seconds, then rapidly tap your feet on the floor, football-drill style, for 30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.” (More workouts for the desk-bound can be found here).
4. Get a walking desk.
More and more companies are investing in programs to encourage employees to exercise. This is probably less due to altruism and more because employee sick time costs up to 6 percent of payroll for many companies. Try using this information to your advantage, and convince management to give treadmill desks a try.
5. Take lots of breaks.
Everyone has that coworker who brags about how they never take vacation and work longer hours than everyone else. And it might well be true, but being Employee of the Year hardly counts if you drop dead of a heart attack at your desk. Break up the work day by getting outside whenever you can. Take your lunch break, even if it’s only a short one. And for goodness sake, take a vacation. It’ll make you more productive in the long run.