The average American worker spends 39 percent of their workday sitting.1 While this may not seem too concerning, studies show that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of certain diseases and early mortality. People are at a much higher risk if they sit for more than 13 hours a day or stay sitting for more than 90 minutes at a time.2
So, what are American workers to do when they rely upon a sedentary job in order to earn a living? Many are turning to incorporating simple exercises into their workdays to stay healthy.
Go to Work a Different Way
Consider walking or biking to work if you live close enough. If you live too far away, make your regular commute a little more active. Park farther from the elevator, get off the bus early and walk the last few blocks or walk partway to a colleague’s house instead of having them pick you up at your front door.
Find Reasons to Walk Around
Sitting for hours a day can be a sluggish and downright painful experience. You may find yourself slouching or losing track of time because there is nothing to break up the day and reinvigorate you.
Instead of succumbing to a sedentary workday, get up at regular intervals to stretch your legs and experience a change of scenery. These are some very easy ways to get moving:
- Grabbing a drink of water – Bring a smaller cup to work or commit to drinking more water each day. Then, every time you need a refill, you have an excuse to get up from your desk and get some steps in.
- Going to the bathroom – Extend your bathroom breaks by traveling up or down the stairs to a different floor. Alternatively, take an extra lap around the office.
- Talking to coworkers – Emails are often more confusing and time-consuming than talking face-to-face. If the situation calls for it, walk over to your colleagues and give them updates in-person. As an added bonus, your peers will find you more familiar and approachable in the future.
- Taking phone calls – If your job involves frequent phone conferences or interviews, you can easily stand or walk around as you take the call. You may even be able to go for a stroll outside if you can take the call on your mobile phone.
- Scheduling walking meetings – People tend to either space out during meetings or dread sitting in a confined space for an hour. Next time, set up a walking meeting instead. Take a trip to the local coffee or sandwich shop and discuss work along the way.
Take Advantage of Your Lunch Break
Only one in five Americans takes a lunch break at work.3 Not only is this practice bad for overall productivity and creativity levels, but it’s also a missed opportunity to burn some calories.
Fight the urge to stay glued to your seat and take some time for a lunch break each day. It doesn’t have to be a full hour – even 20 or 30 minutes will do. Spend your time walking around the perimeter of your office or take a brisk walk around the block. If you do need time to eat, make sure you pack a healthy lunch, and try taking some laps around the office afterward to get in a few extra steps.
Transform Your Desk
Sometimes you just can’t get away from your chair for more than a few moments at a time. In these instances, don’t despair. Turn your desk into a mini-gym instead!
One of the easiest ways to burn some extra calories is investing in a standing desk or a desk riser that elevates your computer. You won’t drop the pounds right away, since standing only allows us to burn an extra eight or nine calories per hour.4 However, if you are already on your feet, you may feel more inclined to fidget, do calf raises or take a quick walk break.
Some people like to combine standing desks with treadmills or desk steppers for extra calorie burn. The workouts are low intensity, as you still need to be able to type or talk on the phone while doing them, but can provide a real benefit if done for several hours over the course of the day.
Start a Fitness Challenge With Colleagues
Many workplaces have started offering wellness programs to create an incentive for attaining a healthier lifestyle. Some offer prizes internally for those who meet the most fitness goals, whereas others let employees work together to raise money for charity or compete against other companies. If there’s no such contest or program at your workplace, consider starting one!
Learn How to Live Healthier at St. Hope Foundation
Unfortunately, many Americans must sit for eight hours or more each day as part of their job. The team of medical professionals at St. Hope Foundation can meet you where you are and recommend diet and exercise that fits into your life so you can make progress at a reasonable pace.