Light Exercise at the Office: Organizing for Workplace Health

standing desk for office health

Organizing the office for better health only requires some initiative and open communication with your fellow office associates. May is Global and Health and Fitness Month­­—the perfect excuse to get everyone at work standing and walking for better health. It all starts with education.

Spreading the News about Sitting Too Much

Informing your colleagues about the many ways a sedentary office day can impact health is the first step toward motivating them to wellness actions.  Send out emails to colleagues letting them know about the detriment of sitting all day  at your desk including how prolonged sitting is associated with a significantly higher risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Muscle and joint problems

Some have gone on to say that the office chair is worse for your health than smoking!

Informing the Office About the Benefits of Walking

Now that you have educated them on the bad stuff, let them know about the good stuff.

Walking for about 20 minutes a day can cut your risk of heart disease by as much as 30 percent.

Get Everyone Involved in an Office Walking Group

  1. Send out office email notifications regarding time and day so everyone can get involved easily walking together outside on nice days
  2. Have a set schedule with a destination in mind. Plan a walk at a local forest preserve during lunch hour or a walk around the office park before work starts in the morning
  3. Suggest walking apps. App pedometers ( many are free to download) have been found to encourage physical activity by offering real-time information on calories burned and walking distances achieved. You can also get competitive and make it fun. See who burns the most calories in half an hour!

Give Insight on the Benefits of Standing at Your Desk

Standing is another low impact approach for improving health at the office.  Along with informing the office staff about standing desks, also inform HR on the health benefits that sit-stand workstations can bring to the workplace.

Share the research: Employees who have used standing desks regularly report an 88% increase in productivity and a 69% reduction in discomfort at their workstation.

Learn more about the 7 health benefits of a Standing Desk 

Adding Micro-Movements to Your Work Day

 

sit stand desk solutions

Micro-movements are incremental movements we make throughout the day that can benefit our overall health. Think of how many times you could take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park a little farther from the office to add steps to your day. These simple micro-movements, including fidgeting, actually contribute to everyday activity, combating the sedentary lifestyle that comes with office work.

Joining the NEAT movement

NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis, suggests that it takes energy to move even the smallest muscle. Polly de Mille, RN, an exercise physiologist with the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City gives an example: “you burn about 1.5 calories per minute just lying still while your body performs its most basic functions.” Go from lying down to sitting in a chair and answering email, and you’ll burn 25 percent more calories.” Combining micro-movements with a regular exercise routine helps transforms the calorie-burning process into a day-long event.

Micro-Movement Activities You Can Perform at Your Workstation

Use a Sit-Stand Desk

Begin using a sit-stand desk at your workstation. Regular transitions from sitting to standing and back again maintain flexibility and improve circulation. On average standing can increase your heart rate by about 10 beats per minute higher than sitting and that makes a difference of about 0.7 of a calorie per minute. That adds up to about 50 calories an hour. If you stand for three hours a day for five days that’s around 750 calories!

Pace and Fidget

Taking time to think about a project can include taking few extra steps around the office. Fidgeting also helps, tapping a foot, wiggling in your office chair may seem odd, but Iowa State University researchers found that those who frequently fidgeted, stood up and walked around were burning an additional 300 calories per day compared to those who remained seated and still.

Workouts at Your Desk

Lean back and lift your feet with legs straight, then bend your knees toward your chest, then straighten again. Do three sets of 20 reps and burn up 75 calories.

Stomach Exercises At Your Workstation

Working your stomach muscles at your desk is easy to do. Simply clench your stomach muscles for about 8 seconds Two sets of this activity for 8 reps will burn 100 calories.

Don’t Abandon Your Exercise Routine

Though micro-movements help, it doesn’t mean you should stop exercising. Thirty minutes of vigorous activity such as jogging or walking is still recommended for a healthy lifestyle. Micro movements are just a perk for office workers who want to include extra calorie-burning to their lifestyle.

Learn more about micro-movements: https://www.theguardian.com/careers/stay-active-office-top-tips