More than 11.5 million Australians spend an average of 40 hours each week in the workplace (ABS 2016). This is a huge chunk of your week, and if your job mainly involves sitting then you could be putting your health at risk. The answer? Find ways to get moving at work.
Why it is so important to get moving at work!
Nearly half of the Australian population does not undertake enough physical activity to maintain good health- a pretty scary thought! Physical inactivity increases your risk of becoming overweight and developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Not only does regular physical activity help to control cardiac risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, it also helps to improve energy levels, maintain good bone health, preserve and strengthen muscle mass, and promote good mental health.
Keeping active in the workplace can be hard, but it’s not unattainable. Here in Australia, it is recommended that you aim to be active for a minimum of 150 minutes each week…that’s equivalent to approximately 20 minutes each day. Creating simple, healthy habits to get you moving at work can help you achieve this daily target (and some!) and improve the outlook of your long-term health.
Below are top 5 strategies to help get you moving at work.
- Break up sitting time
How long have you been sitting today? Perhaps you sat down to eat breakfast, drive to work, catch the train, respond to emails at your desk, or watch a show on the television? All this adds up by the time you get to the end of the day! It is really important that you find ways to get moving at work to break up lengthy periods of sitting time. Take regular breaks and aim to get up for a walk every 30-minutes. This may sound like a lot, but a sitting break could be as simple as going for a walk to the kitchen to pour yourself a glass of water or tea, going to the bathroom, or simply doing a lap of the office. By wearing a fit watch or using a movement app on your phone, this can also help you achieve the recommended 10,000 steps per day.
- Increase incidental exercise
Incidental exercise is any movement that you do as the result of usual daily activities. In simple words, it’s that indirect type of exercise (eg. taking the stairs instead of the lift). This movement is built up over the course of a day and forms the foundation of your total daily physical activity levels. A great example of incidental exercise is walking, as most of you would do this as part of your daily lives. Implementing strategies to help increase the amount of incidental exercise you do during a day is both an easy and sustainable way to get moving at work and improve your physical activity levels. Next time you’re at work, take the stairs instead of the lift, walk the longer route to your desk, do 10 squats at your desk each hour or pace the corridor while you’re on the phone instead of sitting at your desk. You could even get off the bus at an earlier stop, or park your car towards the back of the carpark to squeeze in some extra steps before and after work. Better yet, you may like to try cycling to work a few days each week if it is within a reasonable distance. Remember, any movement (no matter how small) is better than none!
- Increase your standing time
There are many creative ways to increase your standing time at work. If you work in an office, why not ask your boss for an adjustable standing desk? This will allow you to easily switch between standing and sitting while working throughout the day. If you have the luxury of planning your own calendar, you could also try to schedule work tasks in a way in which you rotate between standing and sitting tasks. This will help to break up prolonged periods of sitting. Standing at the back of the room during meetings and presentations is another great way to avoid lengthy sitting times.
- Mix up your meetings
Meetings don’t always have to take a traditional format. Instead of sitting in a boardroom or gathering your colleagues at a café for your next work meeting, take it outdoors! A huge focus is currently being placed on corporate wellness, making employers more open minded to implementing strategies that will create healthier work environments for employees. Walking meetings are a simple strategy to get you, and your colleagues moving at work. A walking meeting is simply that: a meeting that takes place during a walk instead of an office of café setting! It doesn’t even need to be outside, you could walk the huge corridors or your building with a fellow colleague if you work in a large organisation.
- Create an active workplace culture
Everyone has the ability to impact workplace culture, regardless of your job title! Creating a healthy and active workplace is a fun way to get you moving more at work. Engaging your colleagues in a workplace challenge is one way to do this. A step challenge is a great example. Simply get everyone to track their daily step count on a pedometer or app and see who can log the most steps during the working week. If using an app, you will also be able to connect with your colleagues (aka your competitors) and track their step progress. Not only will this healthy competition create good workplace moral, but it will also help motivate you to be more physically active during the work week. Other strategies may include going for a walk with some of your work colleagues during your lunch break, utilising the office gym, or even signing your work team up for a social sport such as football, netball or basketball. The possibilities are endless, just think outside the box!
I hope this article has got you thinking of the many ways to increase movement in your day. Don’t forget that with movement comes increased hydration. If you struggle to drink enough water throughout the day, consider purchasing my new hydration bottle which has motivational times written down one side encouraging you to drink, is BPA free and has a fruit inuser in the middle which helps make water taste amazing! To purchase it, click here.
This article has been written by student dietitian Rachel Hawkins specifically for Leanne’s blog.
Rachel Hawkins is a Nutritionist who holds a Bachelor of Exercise & Nutrition Science, and is currently finishing her Masters of Dietetics at The University of Queensland, Australia. She is passionate about empowering others with the knowledge and confidence to make healthy food and lifestyle choices, be physically active and practice self-care. She does not believe in dieting or restricting food, instead her food philosophy is centered around the ideology that all food should be enjoyed in a balanced manner with focus placed on eating wholefoods. She shares her love of nutrition in a fun, colourful and relatable way on her instagram page @thenakedtruth.au