5 Simple Changes to Be More Active at Work

Man stretches at his office desk during the work day

These days, many Americans have jobs that require sitting for extended periods of time. But sitting for prolonged periods is linked to a higher risk of disease and premature death, according to the American Cancer Society.

Fortunately, getting exercise doesn’t mean spending hours at the gym or pounding on the treadmill. Making a few simple changes to your daily routine can help you sneak in more fitness-boosting benefits, give you energy and more. And it can help you reach your recommended 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.

If your job requires you to sit for hours, or if your New Year’s resolutions include getting more exercise, follow these simple tips to take action and start moving.

1. Sit on an exercise ball

Most desk chairs encourage slouching, which leads to bad posture. Swapping your chair out for an exercise ball can eliminate this problem.

Businessman sitting on exercise ball at work

According to American Fitness Professionals and Associates, sitting on an exercise ball at work can help alleviate back pain and promote a stronger core, since you have to actively work to keep yourself balanced.

If you have some downtime, you can also use the exercise ball to perform basic core exercises, such as crunches and back extensions.

2. Use a sit/stand workstation

If your office will allow it, use a sit/stand workstation rather than a static desk. A 2015 study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine recommended that workers stand for at least two hours of their work

Businessman working at standing desk in office

day, extending that gradually to four hours. A sit/stand workstation makes it easier to meet that goal.

If upgrading your entire desk would be too pricy, consider a portable solution, like a platform that can

be added to the top. Or, try standing at a bar-height counter or bookcase in a pinch. You can also look for opportunities to stand more even if these things aren’t options, like during a phone conference.

3. Walk more

While sitting too much is bad for your health, so is standing still. The American Cancer Society suggests looking for ways to incorporate more walking into your day for better health. You can try things like:

  • – Taking the long way to a coworker’s office
    – Using the restroom, printer or water fountain that’s farthest from your desk
    – Parking in the back of the lot 

Rather than meeting in a conference room, suggest a walking meeting. Or, if your office is small, set an alarm on your phone to get up and move every hour, even if it’s just to the coffee maker or water cooler.

4. Take the stairs

Group of coworkers uses stairs in office

It can be tempting to jump on the elevator when you get to work in the morning, but taking the stairs is healthier and may even save you time.

Depending on how many flights of stairs you need to climb to get to your desk, you might start off climbing a couple of flights and then take the elevator for the rest of your journey. Over time, you can work up to taking all the stairs every day.

5. Take an active lunch

Finding time to exercise before or after work can be tough, so consider slotting your workout into your lunch hour instead. Some offices have on-site gyms you can use, or you could join a gym close to your work.

If neither of these is an option, use your lunch break to go for a walk outside. This will give you a good mental break from your day as well as a physical break.

Staying active at work doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does require you to be more intentional and create some new habits. Start with these suggestions and see if you can come up with some other creative ideas that work for you.

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