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10 ways to stay active at your desk job (and why your health depends on it)

Posted by Sophie Saint

As we discover how bad a sedentary lifestyle can be for your health, experts now shout that sitting is the new smoking! It sounds extreme, but it really is a warning we should listen to. And change how we work.

You may think that doing 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.

You need to stay active at your desk and throughout your day in order to counteract the damage sitting can do to your body.

Get more activity in your working day and you'll reap mass amounts of benefits! You may stop feeling sluggish at work and avoid feeling pain and discomfort from being at your desk all day. Bad posture can have knock-on effects for years to come so make proactive changes now before it's too late.

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. And don't worry. Our tips and tricks won’t involve you running a lap around the office every 30 minutes high-fiving bewildered co-workers.

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 even overtaken obesity. And the scary thing? It’s so easy to see how it can happen without us even realising.

Many of us spend 8 - 10 hours a day sitting at our desks, while some of us will spend up to 19 hours at the computer! We then all go home via cars or public transport to sit at the dining table for dinner before slumping on the sofa to unwind. Minimal activity, so much sitting... it's easy to see how it can happen.

Are you “Actively Sedentary”?

At Move, we champion ALL movement and that we must all move whenever we can! And this is also true for everyday living. You may think you’ve done your moving for the day because of that morning HIIT class but think again.  

While high-intensity exercise is brilliant for your health and can easily be fitted 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 blast out an hour of exercise expecting it to balance out their desk potato days.

But you can’t offset 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise a week.

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The negative effects of sitting at your desk all day

Sedentary lifestyles are extremely common, but it takes a toll on health and productivity. Our bodies are built to move and be in regular action, and when it doesn't you risk 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.
  • A rise in stress levels.
  • Decrease in productivity and energy.

The mental benefits of filling your days with movement

So what happens when you start to get more active and get away from the desk at regular intervals? Not only will your body feel benefits, 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.

The saying, "there is no emotion without motion", has so much meaning. Have you ever forced a smile until it became genuine? Philanthropist, Tony Robbins, has found that if you want to change your mental state in an instant, change your physiology (such as facial expression, breathing, posture) and it will result in a shift in your brain.

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.

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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. They allow you to work at your desk while standing. But why would you want to work on your feet?

You’ll find an improvement in your posture and circulation that will overall alleviate the effects of sitting. It may take a while to build up to a full day of standing, but even a few hours a day will do you good. Just make sure it is adjustable so it can be altered to fit your height.

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2. Sit on an exercise ball

Welcome to ‘active sitting’! It might attract some attention from your co-workers but if you work whilst sitting on an exercise ball, you'll be working on your body without even realising it. Using an exercise ball as your chair will engage your core (your abs and back muscles), which will assist in maintaining good posture. 

3. Set a timer

Get hold of a subtle app or Google Chrome plugin, such as Break Timer, to ensure that you are nudged to get active throughout your day. When the timer goes off, head out for a walk around the office or have a quick stretch to unkink those back muscles.

4. Try out a treadmill desk

If you can persuade your boss to get this, then they sure know how to keep their employees fit and healthy! 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, although this multi-tasking might result in a few workplace accidents... 

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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 move will keep your legs toned without even leaving your desk, which is helpful 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 want to level it up, wear them for a strut around the office to show ‘em off.

6. Mini exercise bike

A mini exercise bike that can fit under your desk is a fantastic way to get exercise whilst at your desk. Keep pedalling and work those legs - your circulation and calves will thank you later!

7. Surfboard desks

OK, this is only for the really cool workers… who have freakishly good balance. Fluidstance has brought out small platforms that require 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!

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8. Walking meetings

Try doing workplace tasks that allow you to be active. Forget about meetings in stuffy boardrooms - take it outside!

Whether it’s taking a call whilst walking around the block or having a gym session while talking shop, it can help keep 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!  

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10. Lunchtime workouts at your nearest fitness venue 

If you want even more out of your lunch break, then hit up your nearest fitness venue and squeeze in 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 re-energise you for the afternoon and get that blood pumping. See some of our top tips on how to work out 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%.

And 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 (especially if there's no time for a shower), a low-impact stretching class - like yoga - gives your body time to move and realign.

Stay active at your desk job by Lunchtime workouts at your nearest fitness venue 

And what's the best way for you to get fitness into your day?

At Move, we offer access to multiple fitness providers, gyms and studios across various cities in the UK. This means you can work out in various locations across your city and find something that fits into the time you have. Find out more about how our multi-gym memberships can help you weave activity into your life. 

EXPLORE FITNESS ON MOVE

Spread the word of movement! Life can get in the way of our workouts and health goals, but we need to be conscious of what we’re putting our bodies through and strategically put aside time throughout the working day to shake things up. You’ll feel the difference.

Remember, stay active at your desk and throughout your working week - don’t be a desk potato!

 

Topics: Fitness and motivation, Fitness

Written by Sophie Saint

Sophie Saint

Exercise used to always terrify me, until I was forced to face it head-on with an impending surfing trip. I entered the world of MoveGB and never looked back.... Yoga, gym sessions and the odd round with a punchbag opened up my eyes to getting active and feeling awesome from it! Travelling, social media and blogging are what I love both in and out of work. And Turn'd Up dance has become a serious obsession now...

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