“Sitting all day has a huge impact on your health,” says Melissa Carter, manager and personal trainer at Anytime Fitness. “Two to three minutes of movement an hour can make a huge difference. If done the right way, being active at work can have many positive effects.”
Research has shown that when organizations focus on cultivating a healthy workplace, there is a decrease in sick leave and an increase in overall production, Carter says. Today’s technology, she adds, has made workers more sedentary than in previous decades. For example, instead of getting up to tell a co-worker something, or to chat about a project, workers now send emails. Carter thinks a rise in obesity in the population and more awareness of diseases has caused people to seek out exercise and healthy lifestyles.
“The more you move, the more energy you have and the healthier you are overall,” Carter says. “Movement gets the blood pumping to the muscles and delivers nutrients to the body.”
Here are some of Carter’s suggestions for activities that will keep you moving and healthy at work.
1. Chair Squats
While on the phone, stand up, place your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down until your bottom lightly touches the chair; return to a standing position. Repeat until you feel a burn in your quadriceps. If this exercise seems like too much while taking a call, do some calf raises (see No. 3.).
2. Leg Lifts
Sit up straight in your chair, engage your core, cross one ankle over the other and lift your legs from 90 degrees to just before a full extension. The slower you go, the better the burn. Repeat for one minute and then switch legs. This exercise will work your quads.
3. Calf Raises
When standing at the coffee machine or waiting for the microwave to finish, do some calf raises. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and begin lifting your heels up and down. Do this until your calves burn, or your coffee or lunch is ready!
4. Walk More
Bring a refillable water bottle of at least 8 ounces to work with you each day. If you aim to drink the full bottle of water once an hour, this will force you to get up and visit the restroom and refill your water. This accomplishes two things: gets you up and moving for a few minutes each hour and keeps you hydrated.
5. Stationary Squats, Calf Raises & Lunges
Consider the restroom your personal workout room. It may seem silly, but do a few stationary squats over the toilet before sitting down, do calf raises while you wash your hands; more squats while you dry your hands and then lunges to the door. Voila! A mini workout set.
6. Water Weights
Fill up two water bottles and use them as weights. Alternate between bicep curls, lateral deltoid (shoulder) raises and triceps extensions.
These exercises may not be supplements to a complete exercise regimen, but small steps like these can help improve your mindset and complement your recommended 30 minutes of rigorous exercise five times a week. Be sure to either pack your gym bag the night before or lay out your gym clothes before going to work. Either way, you’ll make it more difficult to ignore the visual cues you’re giving yourself to stay moving.
Good nutrition is what makes or breaks a healthy lifestyle. Bringing your lunch to work allows you more control over what you’re eating. It’s also more economical. Personal trainer Melissa Carter suggests taking time on Sunday to either make all of your lunches for the week, or at least plan out your week’s lunches and then make each day’s lunch the night before your workday. If you must run out in the middle of the day to grab lunch, try to walk to the store or restaurant.