Office workers, listen up. Your 9-to-5 isn’t just killing you with boredom—it may also be literally killing you. Study after study has pointed to the detrimental effects of all-day sitting, blaming it for everything from heart disease and obesity to even premature death. In other words, sitting is bad. So bad, in fact, that researchers have coined a term—“sitting disease”—to describe the havoc that sedentary desk jobs wreak on our health.
But I go to Barry’s everyday! you’re thinking. So therefore, I’m immune to sitting disease. Well, not so fast: According to scientists, not even daily exercise can counteract the negative effects of all-day sitting. Think of it like smoking cigarettes: Just as exercise can’t undo the hazards of smoking, that daily gym excursion isn’t enough to offset the consequences of prolonged sitting. So what’s a sedentary office worker to do?!
Luckily, it’s possible to combat sitting disease. By sneaking more mini movements into your day, you can ensure a healthier (and more productive!) workday. Below, we share 9 legit ways to move more during work without compromising your job:
Invest in a treadmill desk. Many companies are turning to treadmill desks as a way to create a healthier office environment. These desks, which are treadmills with an adjustable desk attached, enable workers to perform office tasks while walking at a slow pace. Concerned that you won’t be able to walk and work? According to a recent study out of Brigham Young University, individuals using treadmill desks perform cognitive tasks nearly as well as those at sitting desks, despite the fact that they’re walking. And you thought treadmills were just for Barry’s!
Stand at your desk. If you’re not able to afford the often-exorbitant costs of treadmill desks (which often retail for $2,000 a desk), standing desks are the next best thing. In a 2014 study, office workers who stood versus sat for the duration of their workday reported enhanced mood, more energy, decreased appetite and greater productivity than those who sat in chairs. It might take some time to adjust to standing while working, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly. Plus, standing burns twice as many calories as sitting!
Do “walk and talk” meetings. See if your colleague would be open to doing “a walking meeting” in lieu of a traditional seated meeting in the conference room. Walk to the nearest coffee shop and talk business while you stroll—you’ll burn calories and elevate your heart rate.
Take 10-minute breaks. Keeping your nose to the grindstone for hours on end is a sure-fire way to experience mental burnout. A growing body of evidence suggests that taking regular breaks throughout the workday can help fend off fatigue, boost productivity, and inspire creativity. A 2011 study from the University of Illinois concluded that taking breaks from a task dramatically improves focus and concentration. Every 90 minutes, stand up and take 10 minutes to get your blood flowing.
Take the stairs. Yep, you’ve heard this a gazillion times, right? But it’s true! Taking the stairs raises your heart rate and tones your butt and thighs. In fact, just one minute of stair climbing can burn as many as nine calories, compared to one calorie for a minute of standing in an elevator. In other words, don’t be lazy. Don’t take the elevator!
Stretch. Get up periodically and touch your toes, shake your arms around, swivel your neck from side to side. You might look kind of silly, but who cares? The mere act of stretching will increase blood circulation throughout the body for an instant jolt of energy.
Invest in a fitness tracker. Just because you’ve already hit the gym doesn’t mean you have a free pass to be a sloth for the rest of the day. When it comes to exercise, every little step counts. To encourage you to move more throughout the day, consider buying a fitness tracker (such as FitBit or Jawbone) to log the number of steps you take in a given day. Fitness trackers keep you accountable; in other to hit that vaunted 10,000-step mark, you’re going to have to make small adjustments like parking farther from your office, walking rather than driving to lunch, etc.
Drink water throughout the day. Studies show that even mild dehydration can alter a person’s mood, energy level, and ability to think clearly. Sip water throughout the day to ward off fatigue and stay alert. Another perk? Being well-hydrated means you’ll need to pee more, forcing you to get off your chair to use the bathroom more.
Pace on the phone. The next time you have a lengthy phone call, pace around the office while talking. Invest in a quality headset so you can be more mobile.
[Ed. And here’s a great office workout for when you’re stuck in the office and can’t make it to Barry’s.]
Anna Dickens is a self-proclaimed fitness fanatic, yogi, and writer based in Nashville, TN. She is the digital editor of SpryLiving.com, an online women’s health & fitness publication (follow Spry Living on Facebook and Twitter)