Whether you work in an office full-time, or you’re a remote employee working from home or out of a shared office space, it’s easy to let fitness slide. After all, putting in long hours at work often means sitting at a desk for much of the day without doing much physical activity. Just because you work at a desk doesn’t mean you have to let your health and fitness suffer, though.
In this entry of our increasingly-popular e-PA: Work-Life Balance blog, we’re going to look at why it’s so important to keep up an exercise routine in the workplace, and give you some easy, effective office workout ideas to incorporate into your day-to-day working life.
Why You Need To Exercise
It doesn’t matter if you’re new to working from a desk, or if you’ve been doing it for years. All across the UK, increasing inactivity in the workplace is causing employees in virtually every industry to become more and more unhealthy. As Business Insider reports, the average worker sits for more than nine hours a day, and much of that takes place on the job. While all that sitting might boost your productivity, it’s linked with serious health issues like obesity and diabetes.
Spending a few minutes or even an hour a day improving your health and fitness might take time away from work-related tasks, but doing so could actually make you more productive and a bigger asset to your company in the long run. After all, the health issues linked with sitting can cause your professional performance to suffer and force you to take more sick days than you would if you were in better health. Besides, taking both a mental and a physical break from work and getting your blood flowing from time to time can actually help you work smarter.
If you’re worried about the possibility of fitting a workout into your already jam-packed schedule, there’s no need to stress. According to United Healthcare, the average adult only needs 2.5 hours of aerobic exercise each week, plus strength training at least two days per week. If you space those time requirements throughout the week, you only need to fit in about 30 minutes of exercise each day during a five-day workweek. Whether you’re squeezing in your workouts en route to the office, or while you’re at your desk, you should have no trouble making the time for fitness.
Let’s Get Started…
With so many office fitness ideas to choose from, it doesn’t matter if you’re a fitness-phobe or an exercise enthusiast. Take a look at these easy ways to get your heart pumping and devise a plan for staying healthy on the job:
– Fit in a workout on the way to the office
If you want to stay as healthy as possible and fit as much exercise time into your day as you can, you’ll want to get your workout routine started as early as possible. For many employees, that means fitting in a workout on the way to the office. If your office is just a mile or so away from home, ditch the car and walk instead. If you’re a little further from work, find a safe bike route and burn some calories on two wheels.
– Get your ‘Deskercise’ on
Whether or not you can squeeze in a workout first thing in the morning, make a point of keeping your body moving, even while you’re completing tasks. Ease into it by adding a few ‘Deskercises’ to your daily routine.
For instance, you can do several reps of leg raises or glute squeezes from the comfort of your office chair. When you stand up to grab documents from the printer or replenish your office supplies, do a few squats to get your heart rate up. Once you master the art of Deskercise, it might even become second nature to exercise at your desk.
– Invest in a standing desk
Who says you have to sit at your desk? Consider investing in a standing desk, and kiss your office chair goodbye.
If this sounds a little too extreme, try an adjustable-height desk instead. These desks can easily change from a sitting to a standing height, so you can find what works for you. To get the most out of an adjustable height desk, alternate between sitting and standing every 30 minutes or so. Doing this keeps you active and engaged with your work.
– Level-up with a treadmill desk
You can get even more out of your workspace by replacing your clunky old traditional desk with a treadmill desk. These desks have a raised height, similar to standing desks, and they also incorporate a treadmill that keeps your legs moving while you send emails or prepare reports.
Many treadmill desk devotees run theirs at a slow speed for much of the day. Doing this enables you to rack up the steps on your Fitbit without tiring yourself out. If you go this route, be sure to wear comfortable, supportive shoes to the office.
– Squeeze in activity throughout the day
If you prefer to focus on work while you’re at your desk, you can still fit in activities throughout the day. Each time you get up from your desk, even if it’s just to rehydrate, choose the most active way to accomplish your goal.
For instance, make a point of taking the longest way possible to the water cooler, or on your way back from the bathroom, to fit in a few more steps. Forget about the lift and take the stairs instead, even if you’re going several floors up. Doing this might take a few extra minutes, but you’ll get your blood flowing and return to your desk refreshed.
– Make the most of your break time
Whether you only take a lunch break, or you tend to fit in a few coffee or water breaks throughout the day, this is time you could use to improve your fitness. Rather than zoning out or tapping away on your phone during break time, get moving instead.
Plan out a route that allows you to maximise your free time, and go for a walk, run, or bike ride. If you have 30 minutes to work with, this is the ideal time to do some serious aerobic exercise.
– Walk while you work
Some meetings require detailed presentations and ample visual aids, but others are glorified brainstorming sessions. If you’re planning the latter type of meeting, consider leaving the office and hitting the streets with your colleague.
Walking meetings can be surprisingly productive since they get you out of your comfort zone and encourage you to move. Take the time to plan the route ahead of time, though. You’ll want to walk along a route that doesn’t have a ton of obstacles, excessive noise, or unnecessary distractions. Since taking notes might be challenging, talk with your colleagues about recording your conversations, or simply recapping takeaway points as you wrap up the meeting.
– Convert a conference room to a workout room
If your office’s conference room isn’t particularly well used, consider turning the empty space into a workout room, at least for part of the day. While you could certainly move treadmills, ellipticals, and weight machines into your makeshift workout room, that isn’t necessary.
Try lightweight, easy-to-move exercise equipment instead. Balance balls and free weights are ideal for this type of setting. In some cases, office furniture also works well. For instance, tricep dips, lunges, and leg lifts are easy to do with stationary chairs or other supports. Work out alone when you have time or get the whole office involved for a 30-minute workout break.
– Initiate a corporate wellness program
While you can certainly make fitness-focused changes to your workday, getting fitter is much easier when you have the whole company behind you. After all, creating a company culture that centres on health and wellness could prompt some serious improvements.
Developing a wellness program will keep everyone healthier and more productive. Corporate wellness programs can include anything from regular office workout sessions to gym reimbursements to incentives for making healthy decisions. No matter what they feature, they should be designed to improve employee fitness so you do better on the job.
Launching healthy lifestyle initiatives takes persistence and commitment, but doing so pays off in the long run. Try these office workout ideas and look forward to feeling better, thinking more clearly, and boosting your productivity.
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