As we all know, daily exercise is absolutely critical to maintaining health — no big news here. And for those of you who are doing the daily routine, keep up the good work! Recently though, several studies have come to the disturbing conclusion that daily exercise may not be enough to combat the effects of prolonged bouts of sitting. It appears that all the sitting most of us now do (let’s hear it for the digital age) is putting us directly on the path to increased risks for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even early death — which is very bad news for millions of office workers. So how can we transform our sedentary jobs into more active, health-promoting ones, right now? Here are a few simple steps to take and implement at the office today — to help save your health:
Rethink your day.
Look at every activity you do at the office and figure out how to do it with more physical involvement, no matter how minor the activity might be. Every added motion will contribute to better health overall, so start your day off on the right foot — park your car at the far end of the lot and climb the stairs to your office instead of taking the elevator.
Overhaul your work habits.
Walk to the copy machine instead of having the intern do it. Pick up your mail from the mailroom instead of waiting for it to come to you. Walk to the department head’s office to discuss an idea instead of emailing. Whatever the reason, just get up from your chair every 30 minutes to promote blood flow.
Can’t remember to get up and move around at regular intervals? Then put your cell phone on vibrate and set reminder alarms so you know that when the phone starts wiggling on your desk, it’s time for a quick stroll to the water cooler.
Ordering lunch from the corner deli? Not so fast. Put the phone down, push yourself away from the desk, step outside and go get lunch yourself — on foot.
Hydrate with a purpose.
An unusual idea one of my patients uses to keep herself from sitting too long: she drinks a lot of water. The result, she makes frequent trips to the ladies room, always opting for the one that’s the furthest away from her desk, enabling her to sneak in a little exercise without leaving the office.
Get up, stand up.
Get a headset and stand up or walk around your office during conference calls, assuming you’re not on a live video feed! Behind closed doors, another one of my patients does squats and lunges during long calls to help him stay alert and fit.
Work while you work it.
Keep light weights or a dumbbell or two in your desk drawer so you can pump a little iron while checking emails and web surfing. If you have a very progressive company, you might be able to convince them to install a few treadmill workstations, also known as “stand-up desks,” so that employees can walk while working on their computers.
And one last piece of advice? ……Just keep moving!