We hear all the time that ‘sitting is the new smoking’. Numerous studies have shown that many adults in the UK spend too much time sitting down every day, whether at work, commuting or unwinding in front of the TV in the evening. One of the most important places to address this issue is the office, where it is not uncommon for employees to sit for upwards of 7-8 hours. So, how can you change your behaviour at work to incorporate more movement into your day?
- Switch to a sit stand desk
A sit and stand desk gives you the flexibility to choose the way you work. Standing for just a few hours each day can boost blood circulation, burn about 50 extra calories an hour and reduce back pain. Just standing isn’t enough though. One of the biggest advantages of an electric standing desk is that, by getting you on your feet, it encourages you to move more often. Once standing, you are more likely to shift your weight from foot to foot, walk around the office and even dance to the radio! Regular movement has been shown to increase your metabolism, strengthen core muscles, improve posture and boost concentration levels. A stand up meeting table has the same effect and is a good stepping stone into ‘walk and talk’ meetings, which are a simple way for you and your colleagues to keep active without reducing productivity.
- Walk while you work by using a treadmill at your desk
A desk treadmill may sound like something that only fitness fanatics would endorse but in fact it’s a great option for people at all levels of ability. You don't have to work up a sweat in order for your body to experience the benefits. A slow steady pace is enough to improve your fitness levels and walking while you work should be achievable for most able-bodied office workers. Gentle aerobic exercise, such as walking, increases blood circulation and burns more calories than sitting or standing still, which in turn boosts oxygen and energy levels. Studies have shown that regular high-intensity exercise cannot undo the negative effects of sitting for long hours, instead we need to keep moving throughout the day, so the ability to walk at your desk can make a significant difference to your overall health.
- Take the stairs
An obvious one but worth saying again. Choosing to take the stairs instead of the lift is a really simple way to fit a little extra exercise into your day. Depending on what floor your office is on, try to set yourself a target: always take the stairs, take the stairs at least once a day or, if you work in a high-rise, maybe get off the lift two floors below yours and walk the rest of the way. Over time, you won’t even notice the effort!
- Use a desk bike
A desk bike is a great way to move as much as you want without having to take time away from your desk. The idea is to maintain a low but steady speed so that you boost your circulation and keep moving without getting too tired or sweaty. You don’t need to do high-intensity cardio training while you work but, by replacing sitting or standing with this type of activity, you can increase your metabolism and burn more calories; it also has a positive impact on your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. You can track your speed, distance and the number of calories burned to keep you motivated. Set yourself a target and try to increase your stats over time.