11 easy ways to move more at work
We're leading increasing sedentary lifestyles and here in the UK we work some of the longest hours in Europe, but at what cost to our health? Doctors recommend we take 30 minutes of exercise a day, which can help to boost your mood and improve fitness levels.
Sitting in a chair for nine hours straight can hurt your body, increasing your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease – your job could, quite literally, be killing you. Short workouts get you way from your desk and can act as a natural antidepressant, releasing endorphins, improving your energy levels and making you more productive, as well as reducing your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Escape the office with a lunchtime workout or close the doors to your office for a private pilates session – the choice is yours. These 11 easy ways to move more at work will ensure you're raring to go.
#1. Walking meetings
Forget stuffy, suited boardroom meetings; modern meetings happen on the go. Arrange to meet your clients at a park or even outside your favourite smoothie bar for a walking meeting that will get your blood pumping and endorphins flowing. This is one of the best ideas to squeeze a workout into a busy day; just make sure you keep your pace slow, as you don't want to be out of breath when it comes to explaining your killer idea to your client! Make sure you pack some comfortable footwear (ideally trainers) in your bag so you can change at work prior to your meeting. If it's just not practical to meet on-the-go (for example, if you need to present materials on your laptop), pick a smoothie bar or cafe a short walk from the office, so you'll at least be able to take a brisk walk to get there.
#2. Brainstorm on the go
Nobody says creativity has to happen indoors – sometimes the best ideas come to you when you're out and about. If you're looking for fresh ideas in your creative job, then head outside alone or with colleagues. Fresh air can help boost creativity and brighten your mood. Go for a walk around the block or run at the local park; if you really can't escape the confines of the building, take a stroll around the office building or grounds.
#3. Workout at your desk
When work is piling up and it seems like you'll never get through your to-do list, you can still workout at your desk. Try some of our bodyweight exercises or use your chair or a wall for squats. If all else fails, improve your flexibility with some gentle stretches.
#4. A moment of calm
Lunchtime workouts don't have to be a sweaty gym session or outdoor run – why not head for a yoga or pilates class, or try Tai Chi to rebalance your mind and body? These types of exercises focus on mind and body and can help your mind to focus, stretch sore muscles and ease back and shoulder pain caused by sitting at your desk, as well as boosting your energy levels. If you can't escape to attend a class, see if you can use an empty meeting room for a 30-minute session. Try one of our healthy post-workout snacks to refuel before heading back to your desk.
#5. Become a fidget
Did you know that fidgeting burns calories and helps you stay active? Pacing whilst on the phone or even fiddling with a pen helps to keep your mind and body active and alert – if you simply can't afford to leave your desk, this is better than nothing.
#6. Avoid email
We've become dependent on email for office communication, even for communicating with those working in the same building as us! When was the last time you stopped by a colleague's desk in another department? Email can be efficient, but why not get off your seat and walk to where you need to be? You'll not only boost your metabolism, you'll help to avoid the dreaded 3pm slump, and you may even make a new friend.
#7. Get involved in extra-curricular activities
Many workplaces and offices run social events in the evenings and weekends; there are usually fitness events in there somewhere, from rock climbing to marathon training. So don't be a wallflower; get out there after work and mingle with your colleagues whilst you get fit. Not only will this help you to feel more energetic after work, research shows that you're more likely to make better food choices after exercise, so a bottle of wine and a takeaway will suddenly seem like a less tempting option.
#8. Join the office gym
If you work irregular shifts (night shift workers, this one's for you), it can be hard finding time and energy to workout when you clock off. Many workplaces such as the emergency services have their own gym available to staff – it's a great idea to join as you can stave off tiredness with a quick 15 or 30-minute routine when you're flagging. It's usually free to join or reduced-cost memberships are available, and keeping fit will help you to do your job.
#9. Take a different route
Do you always get the bus or drive to work? Why not try taking a different route to squeeze in some exercise before you even get to the office? Get off the bus a few stops earlier and power-walk or jog the remaining distance. Or hop on your bike and get pedalling to get those endorphins flowing. You could even walk to work if it's not too far; don't forget to layer up in warm clothes if it's cold outside! Taking a new route to work will set you up nicely for the day and gives you plenty of 'me' time before you reach your desk – perfect for problem solving or planning your work schedule.
#10. Work flexi time
If your boss allows you to work flexible hours, or you work from home, break up your day with a run or workout at the gym. It doesn't always have to be the gym – many fitness classes held during the day are quieter and cheaper than those held in the evenings, so consider a yoga or dance class or try something new like boxing or rock climbing. Working flexible hours might mean you can finish earlier, so you can beat rush hour to squeeze in a workout. Or it could mean finishing earlier, heading for a run and then working in the evening. However you manage your time, breaking away from the traditional 9 to 5 spent sitting at your desk will boost your energy and fitness levels.
#11. Get a new job
If all else fails, why not look for a more active job? For some people, sitting staring at a computer screen in an office all day long just isn't fun and you won't be happy at work. A job where you're active and outside may suit you better – how about becoming a post man, traffic warden, police officer or delivery courier? All of these jobs will help to keep you fit and active, and you're less likely to suffer back pain caused by sitting for long periods of time.