6 ways to improve your health and fitness in the officeMany companies are now seeing the benefits in encouraging their employees to adopt a healthier mentality towards fitness and introduce ways of standing and exercising at work.
Studies indicate that by doing so, professionals can benefit from improved brain function, weight loss, better sleep, reduced stress and increased motivation. Further, people should be aiming to accumulate at least 2 hours of standing time or light exercise within their average workday. We have compiled 6 ways that you can make this happen for you and your colleagues:
- Exercise ball
Replace that tired old desk chair with an exercise ball. By sitting on an exercise ball instead of a desk chair, you are already engaging your body in a way that promotes better health and wellbeing. With no chair-back, the temptation to slouch is non-existent and therefore allows your posture to improve. As the ball is movable, you are activating your legs and core to stabilize and improve the tone of your body by doing so. Still now enough? Add in some light pilates exercises throughout your day.
- Standing desk
In case the exercise ball isn’t your thing, you can always ask for a standing desk. While many people have the standing desk and don’t make use of it, try to schedule 15min, 3-4 times a day, that you stand instead of sit. You can slowly increase these periods over time as you become more comfortable working in this way. While standing you can also add in small movements as well, such as: walking on the spot, calf raises, small balancing positions, etc.
- Don’t pick-up the phone
If you need to talk with a colleague, resist the urge to pick-up the phone; go for a walk and speak with them directly. Taking the time to have a conversation in person can be beneficial both physically and mentally. Doing this a few times a day allows the opportunity to rest your eyes from the computer screen, clear your head and move your body. Even better if stairs are involved.
- Walk to lunch
Even if you enjoy bringing your lunch to work, try and find a location that brings you joy, within a walkable distance, where you can go to enjoy your lunch. It’s important to remove yourself from the work environment at least once throughout the day to clear your mind and separate yourself from the “you at work”, especially if you work in a stressful environment. Take in some fresh air, enjoy using your legs and appreciate your surroundings; your afternoon will be much happier as a result.
- In-office exercise
Unlike very large companies, most people don’t have the luxury of fitness and or yoga classes supplied at their place of employment. This doesn’t mean that you can’t find ways to integrate fitness into your everyday work life. Find a local fitness studio with lunch-time classes, go for a short run or jog with colleagues, create your own fitness routine to do in or outside the office… break up your day with some physical activity and notice how your focus, happiness and attitude improves. We are designed to move and function at a high capacity; it is important we bring this into our daily routines.
- Canine companion
Taking your dog to work with you can provide both mental and physical benefits. Studies by Virginia Commonwealth University have shown that a furry friend in the workplace can reduce stress levels, increase happiness and promote a more positive working environment for all. Not only does a dog make for happy colleagues but, by taking your dog to work, you have provided yourself with an excuse to get up and take a few short walks throughout the day as well. You’ll also be keeping your pup happy and fit at the same time.
Nooijen, C.F.J., Blom, V., Ekblom, Ö. et al. , 2019, Improving office workers’ mental health and cognition: a 3-arm cluster randomized controlled trial targeting physical activity and sedentary behavior in multi-component interventions. BMC Public Health 19, 266 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6589-4 [Accessed 19 Feb. 2020].
E J Tillett, British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2015, 49 1353-1353 Published Online First: 16 Oct 2015. Doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2015-095507 https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/49/21/1357.full [Accessed 19 Feb. 2020].
S Abraham, 2012, Benefits of taking Fido to work may not be far 'fetched'. [online] News.vcu.edu. Available at: https://www.news.vcu.edu/article/Benefits_of_Taking_Fido_to_Work_May_Not_Be_Far_Fetched [Accessed 19 Feb. 2020].