Oh, office life. While the 9-5 routine can be a rewarding and stable way to make a living, it may pose a challenge to those of you who are looking to make healthy changes to your lifestyle. From staring at a computer screen all day, to carpal tunnel from constant typing, to lower back pain caused by sitting for extended periods of time, the sedentary nature of the office can truly do a number on the body. While some of these factors are just part of the job, there are a variety of small changes that you might be able to make to your environment or your workday routine that will allow you to add in some movement, get your blood-flowing, and break up some of the monotony!
When it’s time to take a break
When you get into a flow at work, it is very common that you can lose track of time. Instead of taking that break you had planned, you end up working for hours straight without giving both your body and mind a break! There are a variety of apps and browser extensions that you can utilize to remind you when to get up and move. A pomodoro cycle is a popular example – focusing for 25 minutes, and breaking for 5 – that not only prevents you from remaining stationary for too long, but also encourages you to give you brain a chance to rest and regain some creative energy!
If your workplace offers you the luxury of a decent lunch break, taking the time to go on a short walk post-lunch can be a great way to get moving! Not only does it allow your body more time to digest before zoning in at your desk again, but it also allows you to gain some fresh air, Vitamin D, and a change of environment!
During a meeting
If you have the ability to schedule or choose the location of your meetings, having coworkers join you for a walk could be a great way to build a sense of community with others, while sharing and encouraging others to build healthy habits!
At your desk
Sometimes you aren’t gifted the opportunity to leave your desk as often as you would like, but if you have the ability to do so, changing up your personal work space may help you to promote movement or better mobility within your own space.
Stability balls can be a great replacement for a standard chair. They encourage you to practice better posture and engage your core muscles to keep yourself upright at your desk. If your workplace allows you the opportunity, these balls can also be utilized for a short core workout within your personal space!
Here are some quick and easy exercises that you may be able to complete on a short break!
Standing desks can also provide you with an option to mix up your working posture and position. While standing static for long periods for a long period of time can also create some discomfort, this position offers you more mobility, and the opportunity to strengthen your leg muscles in ways that you would not be able to while seated. Asking your company if it could provide (or investing in) a desk that allows you to alternate between these positions would allow you more variety and comfort!
When you’re feeling stressed
Movement and exercise are not limited to building strength and getting your heart rate up! A very important, and often overlooked, element of fitness is flexibility. When we are putting stress on our bodies, through workouts or daily activities, it is important to take the time to recover and stretch our muscles. Sitting or standing for long period of time can build up tension within the body that can be relieved through a series of regular stretching routines throughout the day. The beauty of this is that there are wide variety of stretches that can be done right in your chair! Try these stretches that you can easily squeeze into your hectic work day, and within limited space.
Throughout the day
When you take the time to look for opportunities to add more steps into your workdays, you might be surprised with what you discover! Even the shortest trip across the office increases your step count and offers you another opportunity to move your body!
- Need to give a memo to or share a message with someone in another room? Walk over to them to talk if they are available.
- Is your office upstairs? Skip the elevator and take this chance to climb the stairs. (Or even for a few rounds on them during a break!)
- Working on hydration? Extra walks to the water cooler or bathroom can increase your steps as well.
These all may seem like small changes, but these small opportunities to move can give your body and brain the refreshing boost that they need to help you power through the rest of your workday!
Whether you find yourself in a very traditional workplace, or your 9 to 5 is progressive and flexible in its structure and schedule, there are countless ways to keep yourself active and work on maintaining a healthy lifestyle within the office. These 5 steps are just a jumping off point, so take some time this week and find what works best for you to create the most dynamic desk job possible!
Author: Jess Abercrombie