“Sitting is the new smoking!” - you may have heard that phrase being bandied around by experts as we continue to learn how bad sitting can be for your health. But it truly is a warning you should heed.
You need to stay active at your desk and throughout your day in order to counteract the damage sitting can do to your body.
You may think that sweaty workouts a few times a week is enough to balance out the amount of time you spend sitting sedentary at your desk, but new studies have found that you need to also stay active at your desk job in order to sustain your health.
Get more activity in your working day - avoid feeling sluggish at work, avoid feeling pain and discomfort from being at your desk all day, avoid bad posture that can have knock on effects for years to come. We’ve got some top tips and tricks that won’t involve you running a lap around the office every 30 minutes high-fiving bewildered co-workers.
Read on to find out why we’ve all got to incorporate movement throughout our days, how it can benefit our health, and of course, 10 ways to stay active at your desk job! We’ve got some cool technology and some simple tips to help you get active whilst tied to your desk job.
Why your health needs you to take up office fitness:
Don’t be a desk potato!
We’re a country that’s in danger of being known as the ‘nation of couch potatoes’ and this needs to change. The World Health Organisation has identified physical inactivity to be the fourth biggest killer of the modern world, and it has overtaken obesity. And it’s easy to see how it can happen without us even realising...
Many of us spend 8 - 10 hours a day sat at our desks, while some of us will spend up to 19 hours at the computer! Then we all go home sat in a car to sit at the dining table for dinner, and finally most unwind slumped on the sofa. Minimal activity, so much sitting... this won’t end well...
Are you “Actively Sedentary”?
We always champion movement and that we must all move as much as we can! And this is soooo true for every day living… however, you may think you’ve done your moving for the day because of that morning HIIT class.
While high intensity exercise is brilliant for your health and you should fit it in around your schedule, you must still remember to be active at your desk. Scientist Kathy Bowman has found that in today’s world, there’s now a new category of people who are ‘actively sedentary’. These people sit for the whole day, but still blast out one hour of exercise expecting that to balance out their desk potato days. But you can’t offset 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise a week.
The negative effects of sitting at your desk all day:
Sedentary lifestyles are extremely common, but it’s taking its toll on health and productivity. Our bodies are built to move and be in regular action - it’s time to get active at your desk as too much sitting can cause the following health ailments:
- As your blood flows slower and your muscles are burning less fat, there’s a higher risk of fatty acids clogging your heart.
- The pancreas produces more insulin when sedentary, which could lead to diabetes. The efficiency of your body when dealing with sugar is affected by how physically active you are.
- It’s believed that those who are sedentary are more at risk of various cancers, as the antioxidants in your body aren’t getting a boost from movement. These antioxidants are known to target potentially cancer-causing free radicals.
- Digestion problems
- Back and hip problems
- Poor posture.
- Leg issues, such as, weak bones and varicose veins.
- Rise in stress levels
- Decreases in productivity and energy.
The mental benefits of filling your days with moving!
So what happens when you start to get more activity in and move away from the desk at regular intervals? Not only will your body improve, but your mindset and energy will be affected too. Productivity is known to rise dramatically when employees are able to get physical activity into their working day.
One of our founder’s favourite mantras is “There’s no emotion without motion”. He is our wise sensei. You’ll often see him taking important calls whilst pacing around, chatting work issues through with co-workers at lunch gym sessions and using standup desks when in the office. But what does his enigmatic slogan mean?
Have you ever forced a smile until it became genuine? Philanthropist Tony Robbins has found that if you want to change your state in an instant, change your physiology (such as, facial expression, breathing, posture) and it will result in a shift in your state.
This can be applied to our day jobs: move and change your mental state. If you hit a slump, give yourself a good stretch at your desk and correct your posture. Or even take yourself away from the desk, get moving and return feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the task. It also helps alleviate stress levels so you don’t take your work frustrations home with you.
10 ways to stay active at your desk job:
1. Use a stand up desk
Stand up desk, standing desk, adjustable desk - they come with many names but they all do the same thing. Work at your desk while standing and you’ll find an improvement in your posture and circulation, which will overall alleviate the effects of sitting. It may take a while to build up to a full day of standing, but even half a day will do you good. Just make sure you have an adjustable desk so it can be altered to a regular desk height when you tire.
2. Sit on an exercise ball
A few in the MoveGB office work whilst on an exercise ball. Using an exercise ball as your chair will engage your core (your abs and back muscles), which will assist in maintaining good posture - welcome to ‘active sitting’!
3. Set a timer
Get hold of a subtle app or Google Chrome plugin, such as Break Timer, to ensure that you are reminded to get active throughout your day. When the timer goes off, go for a walk around the office or stretch to workout those back muscles.
4. Try out a treadmill desk
Ooo if you can persuade your boss to get this, then they sure knows how to keep workers fit! If you think standing while working would be a great way to be active, try walking throughout your day as you type on your laptop. We’re definitely keen to give this a go!
5. Leg lifts under the desk with ankle weights
We’re all about subtle and easy ways to get moving in the office - this sneaky one will keep your legs toned without leaving your desk (if your boss has their beady eye on you). Strap on leg weights and every hour, do a few reps of leg raises under your desk. And if you don’t care who sees you with them on, why not go for a strut around the office to show ‘em off.
6. Mini exercise bike
A fantastic way to literally get exercise at your desk is to get a mini exercise bike that fits under your desk. Keep pedalling and work those legs - your circulation and calves will thank you!
7. Surfboard desks
OK, this is only for the really cool workers… who have freakish balance. Fluidstance has brought out small platforms that requires you to mimic the balance of a surfer at your stand up desk. It engages your core and increases your heart rate by 15%. Surf’s up!
8. Walking meetings
Like our sensei (ahem, we mean founder) practices, try doing tasks that allow you to be active. Forget about meetings in stuffy boardrooms, and take it outside! Whether it’s taking a call whilst walking around the block, having a gym session while talking shop or taking a meeting on to the road, it all helps in keeping your body moving. Not to mention you’ll be clocking up those important daily steps!
9. Subtle stretches at your desk
No one will blink an eye at you doing some casual stretches a few times a day at your desk. Staying active whilst at work can come in the form of simple exercises, like shoulder raises, neck stretches, leg raises… or go full aerobics and get into these top deskercise moves!
10. Workout at lunchtime at your nearest fitness venue
If you want more out of your lunchtimes, then hit up your nearest fitness venue and do a class or a quick gym session. Even if you can only fit in 30 - 40 mins, you will feel the difference in your productivity and happiness levels. A lunchtime workout will reenergise you for the afternoon and get that blood pumping. See some of our top tips on how to workout at lunch!
A study presented to the American College of Sports Medicine has found that those who workout for 30-60 minutes at lunch had an average performance boost of 15%. 60% of employees claimed that time management, mental performance and ability to meet deadlines improved on the days they exercised. It also helped them avoid post-lunch energy slumps! Even if you don't want to get too sweaty (there’s not always time for a shower), a low-impact stretching class - like yoga - gives your body time to move and realign.
Spread the word of move! We must all keep moving despite our desk jobs. Life can get in the way of our workouts and health goals, but be conscious of what you’re putting your body through and strategically put aside time throughout your working day to shake things up. You’ll feel the difference! See how a multi-gym membership can help you weave activity into your life, and give it a whirl.
Remember, stay active at your desk and throughout your working week - don’t be a desk potato!