6 Hacks For Moving More At The Office For People Who Sit All Day Long
Fitting exercise into our daily routines when most of us work in an office for eight plus — sometimes majorly plus — hours a day can be incredibly difficult, and it's why finding easy ways to move more at work can be super important to our physical and mental well-being.
According to the Mayo Clinic, research links sitting for long periods throughout the day with cardiovascular disease, metabolic problems, and cancer. What's more, attempting to offset the hours a day spent sitting behind a desk by spending a few hours at the gym each week doesn't seem to significantly improve the negative effects of sitting for extended periods. The Mayo Clinic suggested this seems to indicate that the best solution is just trying to move more each day overall.
This brings most of us back to our first problem: How are we supposed to move more when we're stuck in an office all day, and then don't necessarily have time for a nice long walk or exercise session in the few remaining hours of the day we have to get personal things done? If you want to exercise more, but are struggling with the limited hours in a day, take a look at these six hacks for moving more at the office.
1. Start With Your Commute
Everyday Health contributor Madeline Vann, MPH, suggested using your morning or evening commute as the first place to fit in some more movement. "Park a reasonable distance from where you need to be and walk the rest of the way. If you use a parking garage, consider this strategy: Park on a lower level, climb the stairs to a higher level, and walk back down the ramp," she wrote. If you take public transportation to work, just get off a stop or two before where you would normally get off and walk the rest of the way.
2. Take The Stairs
Vann also recommended taking the stairs over the elevator. This might seem super obvious and even inconvenient, but stairs are awesome for your leg and glute muscles and also actually get your cardiovascular system going. Also, I don't know about you, but the elevators in a lot of offices I've worked have been crazy slow, so the stairs often even ended up saving me time.
3. Stand More
In an article on how to move more throughout the day in U.S. News and World Report, Kent Burden, wellness coach and author of The Office Workout: 75 Exercises to Do at Your Desk recommended simply standing more when you can. “Once you stand, all those postural muscles fire up. They start sucking sugar and fat out of the bloodstream to keep those muscles going,” Burden said.
4. Do Leg Stretches Under Your Desk
Vann said that leg stretches are a perfect and discreet way to get in some more toning and movement, since no one can see what you're doing under your desk anyway. "Start with flat feet, and then raise and lower the heel of each foot 5 to 10 times. Next switch to lifting your toes: Raise one leg and point your toe slowly 5 to 10 times; do the same on the other side. Finally, raise one leg and circle your ankle several times; switch legs," Vann said.
5. Drink More Water
In a compilation piece in Women's Health, readers sent in their top tips for moving more throughout the day. One participant recommended just drinking more water, as it guarantees you'll be getting up more to go to the bathroom — not to mention, drinking more water is always a great habit to maintain.
6. Change Your Mindset
Burden also stressed the importance of changing your mindset when it comes to fitting in more movement. You don't need to bring an exercise mat to work or try to fit in a 20-mile bike ride at lunch. "You should not break a sweat. You should not get out of breath. There should not be a point where you’re sweating under your arms," Burden said. Think a little smaller and you'll probably be way more motivated to actually get in that movement.
Moving throughout the day, as opposed to just a few bursts of exercise a week, is actually super important for our health, and the good news is it's actually way more doable than a lot of us think. Just be conscious of moving a little every day— even if it's just while you're on that conference call— and you're already on the right track.