Ladies and gentlemen, please stand up! Whether you’re trying to lose weight or stay fit, it’s important to get regular exercise during the day – especially if you’ve got a desk job.
If you haven’t already heard, sitting for long periods of time has been linked to several serious health concerns, including an increased risk of heart disease as well as obesity and metabolic syndrome. It’s also been tied to an increased risk of cancer in women.
Related: 6 Workouts To Do At Your Desk
Fortunately, some experts think these health concerns may be overblown, according to more recent research. However, it’s still very important to step away from your desk during the day. Even if you exercise regularly before or after work, studies suggest that it still might not be enough to counter the risks caused by sitting for prolonged periods of time.
“Avoiding sedentary time and getting regular exercise are both important for improving your health and survival,” says Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI) Senior Scientist Dr. David Alter in this article. “It is not good enough to exercise for 30 minutes a day and be sedentary for 23 and half hours.”
“Okay,” you say, “I gotcha – sitting is bad and exercise is good. But how the heck can I fit in a workout while I’m supposed to be doing other things like…WORK?!”
While it might seem completely unthinkable to try to squeeze in some exercise during the day, it’s not as hard as you might think, according to Locke Hughes, senior lifestyle editor at the health and fitness site, Greatist.com.
“Trust me,” said Hughes, “I know it can be tough to work in movement especially on days when you feel chained to your computer, but there are some easy ways to save your posture and help your overall health.”
Here are some sneaky ways to fit in exercise at work, according to Hughes:
1. Get (or build) a standing desk.
“I know this isn’t super creative, but standing desks can be lifesavers—literally,” said Hughes. “And, if your office won’t spring for it, there are plenty of lower-budget desktop options that you can simply place on top of an existing desk to level it up to standing-height.”
2. Take a walk around the block.
Aim to go outside and take a walk at least once or twice per day. In addition to breaking up your day in the office, walking helps to improve your mood and relieve stress. If you have a hard time getting away from your desk, Hughes suggests marking it on your calendar as if it was an appointment so you don’t forget it (or put it off!).
“I always make sure to go around 3 p.m. to help offset that afternoon slump,” said Hughes.
3. Hit the stairs.
Stuck on a long conference call? Instead of wasting that time sitting at a desk, sneak a few steps in. Take the phone to the stairwell (if you can) and walk up and down a few flights of stairs during the call.
“You’re basically doing a bunch of sets of walking lunges,” said Hughes.
4. Don’t do it alone.
You’re not the only one who needs to get up and away from your desk. Organize a group activity like yoga in an empty conference room with some of your colleagues. It’s a fun, social way to get a little exercise in and take a break from your computer screen.
“At Greatist, we do a yoga flow every Wednesday morning, thanks to a colleague who’s currently in yoga teacher training,” said Hughes. “It’s a wonderful break to stretch your body and calm the mind.”
(For those of you who don’t have an in-house yoga teacher, there are tons of 10- to 15-minute yoga classes on YouTube you can use instead.)
5. Stretch it out.
“I love doing shoulder stretches,” said Hughes. “If you breathe deeply in and out while you do it, it’s like a mini-yoga session. It also helps me sit up straighter and not slouch so much!”
(Not sure what stretches you should do? Hughes recommends trying these 16 great stretches, most of which you can do seated standing.)
Not all those who wander are lost…some are just trying to fit in some exercise! When you’ve hit a good break point in your work, get up and wander around the office a little. Take a stroll down the hall to catch up with a colleague or take the long way to the restroom.
“Just be sure to avoid the allure of the office candy jar!” warned Hughes.
(Want more ways to workout at work? Check out this EPIC list of 33 ways to exercise at work that are actually fun and effective.)
Feel self-conscious about exercising at work? Don’t.
“I’m willing to bet that your co-workers will admire, not make fun of, your fitness-minded efforts,” said Hughes. “And if you can get them in on the action by doing a group workout once a week, all the better!”
Plus, if you get more people involved, they will help keep you accountable. So, encourage other people in the office to join you when you take a walk, do some yoga, or wander around the office building. Teamwork makes the dream work, baby!
Now that you’ve read this, you have no excuses. Stand up! Move around! Get going! Your body will thank you.