The nature of office work usually means sitting for long periods of time while you complete work on a computer, and this is no good for health or fitness. The human body is designed to move, and when faced with sedentary lifestyle on a daily basis, it can lead to problems with health. Sitting for long periods of time is associated with fatigue, muscular aches, weight gain and depression. If left untreated, these condition can develop further, creating a risk of heart disease or diabetes.
Often, the idea of doing exercise after work is not appealing, as you may feel tired or have other commitments to attend to, but the good news is that there are a variety of ways you can incorporate activity in your daily life.
Walk or Cycle to Work
The commute to work is where you can make significant changes to how active you are in a day. If you just live a few miles away from your workplace, consider walking or cycling instead of driving. If you have to drive, find somewhere to park that if further away than your usual place, and walk the rest of the way. Use a pedometer to count your daily steps, and aim to reach 10,000 steps per day. People who walk to work are not stressed out by their commute, unlike those who get caught in traffic or have to get on a crowded train. By the time you are ready to start work, you feel fully awake and ready to take the challenges of the day. While making changes to your commute might take a little planning, it will quickly become part of your daily routine and have a beneficial effect on your health and fitness.
Take the Stairs
If you work in an office building and use an elevator every day, make a conscious effort to use the stairs instead. Walking upstairs adds a cardiovascular workout to your day. It works your muscles, raises your heart rate and gets oxygen-rich blood pumping around your body. When you settle down to work, you will feel the benefits of this improved blood flow in your ability to concentrate and solve problems. Cardio exercise also improves mood, and just a few minutes each day brings benefits to your physical and mental health.
Stand instead of Sit
The effects of sitting for prolonged periods of time puts office workers at risk of developing both physical and mental health conditions. If you have to work at a computer all day, you might try standing instead of sitting. This might mean you need to have something on your desk to adjust the height of your screen and keyboard, so you don’t have issues with posture.
While standing might feel odd at first, there are significant health benefits. Standing burns more calories than sitting, making you less at risk of weight gain, and it also engages your core and leg muscles.
When you start standing at your desk, take things slowly. You have been used to sitting down for hours, so suddenly expecting to stand for six hours is not what your body is used to. Try standing for 30 minutes, twice per day, to begin with and gradually extend your time as you become more accustomed to it. To help get the most benefits from standing at a desk, you might want to invest in an Active Mat, a clever one-inch thick mat to give you comfort and help you to use your muscles while standing.
When you make the effort to eat healthy foods, you are more likely to make healthy choices in other areas of life, including exercise. So, grab a salad for lunch with lean proteins, snack on fruit and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Although it might sometimes be difficult to stick to your diet while at work, you can help stick to your eating regime by keeping your desk well stocked with healthy snacks. When you look after this aspect of health, you will naturally feel more motivated to be more active.
Use a Timer
If you have to sit for a long time to get a job done, there is one technique that not only helps you be more productive, but gives you time to stretch your muscles too. It’s called the Pomodoro technique, and it is where you set a timer for twenty minutes. During that twenty minute you focus fully on the task at hand, but when the timer finishes, you get up and move around for five to ten minutes. You can do another work tasks, but it has to be on your feet! It is amazing how much you can achieve with twenty minutes of concentrated effort, and the ten minutes of moving around and stretching afterwards means you are active and less likely to suffer from mental fatigue. If you add those ten minute activity breaks up, it adds a good amount to your total activity levels during a working day.
Create a Group
If you have fellow workers who also want to improve their fitness, doing things together makes everyone more likely to achieve their goals. You might like to go for a brisk walk during your lunchbreaks, decide to do a team exercise such as sponsored cycle, or simply just be there to support and encourage each other to keep going. Having other people holding you accountable when you say you will do something, like taking the stairs or walking to work, makes you more likely to do it.
The nature of office work means spending time at a desk, but now the options of how you spend that time are changing. More companies are opting for standing desks and encouraging their workforce to be active, and employers often encourage team building through sports. A healthy workforce is more productive, so it makes sense from a business point of view, but most importantly, staying fit while working in an office improves your health and well-being.