Surveys have shown that every year one of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions is to “get in shape.” This year, 45% of Americans have promised themselves to eat better, exercise, and go to the gym regularly. Alas, this admirable goal is often the one most will abandon long before positive changes are made. Why is that?
Well, most working professionals find their fitness time occurs before or after the workday, where their physical activity involves little more than walking from their desk to the conference room, staff break room, or out to lunch. It’s too many hours to be so sedentary, however, it’s a fact of life for those of us whose job requires little physical activity.
Since many studies have proven that sitting for lengthy periods of time can have negative effects on our health, here are three recommendations that you can start immediately to help you maintain fitness while at your desk:
Take a 10-minute “action” break for each hour you’re at your desk
When you’re fully immersed and engaged in work, time can pass very quickly, and before you realize it you can find yourself sitting for hours at a time without much physical activity at all. To prevent such stretches of immobility, set an alarm so that you’ll “remember” to get up to stretch and walk around – or even march in place if there is nowhere for you to go! You can also do some simple desk exercises including touching your toes, squats, or lifting light weights that you keep by your desk. You’ll soon find that by staying active throughout the day you will be more alert and productive, too.
Skip the elevator, take the stairs, and park in an “inconvenient” location
Many of us drive to work or take public transportation that drops us off very close to our final destination. Make it a habit to park as far from your building as possible or get off the bus or subway a few stops before you arrive at your building so that you will have to walk the rest of the way. Whenever possible take the stairs to your office, including during your lunch or break times, and if you find that you lack the commitment to do these things on a regular basis, find an “accountability partner” in your office that is interested in engaging in these healthful pursuits with you.
Consider a “walking” meeting or conference call
Not all meetings have to be conducted around a conference table or at your desk. If the situation allows, conduct a “walking” meeting where you can cover important work and improve your daily step-count. Conference calls, especially those in which you are doing more of the listening than the talking, also provide a good opportunity to keep moving.
The key is to become aware of how you spend your time at work and recognize or make opportunities to get up and move. Oftentimes heightened awareness is all that is needed to change habits and get you to engage in actions that will support better health and fitness.