Advice Assisted Living

I Need Some Ideas for Staying Active During the Long Work Day!

Older adults walking

Dear Benchmark:

My colleagues and I are looking for ways we can increase our activity level during the workday. We’ve all heard how bad a sedentary lifestyle is and are concerned about the long-term impact on our health.

While we have to stick pretty close to our desks all day, it seems like we should be able to do more from a seated position.

Do you have any suggestions that can help us get 2017 off to a healthier start?


Workday Friendly Forms of Exercise

Dear Stacey:

You are right to be concerned about the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, especially if your work requires you to remain at a desk all day. Researchers now tell us that sitting too much — even if you exercise faithfully — can have dangerous health consequences. Some are even calling it the new smoking! Newer research shows sitting all day can increase your risk of cancer by as much as 60%.

Moving throughout the day and exercising at least five days a week are important when it comes to protecting your health and preventing disease. But that can be hard to do when you are stuck at your desk for long hours every day.

The good news is that there are easy ways you can increase your activity level throughout the workday. “Deskexercises” are gaining in popularity in offices across the country. Of course, it is always best to talk with your medical provider before undertaking any type of new exercise regimen.

Start your workday by looking for opportunities to walk more. Every step counts! Park a little further away from your office. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. You might even host a “walking meeting.” Instead of sitting around a table for your morning meeting, slip on sneakers and walk and talk your way through your agenda.

It might help to purchase a fitness tracker and set a goal to walk 10,000 steps each day. If that feels too intimidating, start with 5,000 and work up to 10,000.

Many devices will allow you and your colleagues to view and share how many steps you each take during the day. Make it a competition to see who can reach their goal first or who can walk the most steps!

There are other ways you can stay active during your workday without leaving your desk. A few you might want to try include:

March in place at your desk. Maybe while you are listening on a webinar or talking on the phone. Just sixty seconds of marching can get your heart rate up!
Replace your chair. Try switching out your traditional desk chair and replacing it with a balance ball chair. Even if it’s only for a few hours each day. These chairs help improve posture, build back muscles and improve core strength.
Invest in a portable pedal exerciser. You can pedal your way to better health by utilizing a portable exerciser under your desk. It is a low impact way to stay moving. You can also place it on your desktop for a few minutes a day and use your hands to pedal. This helps improve cardiovascular fitness while giving your upper body a quick workout.
Chair yoga during break time. Stiff muscles and poor posture are common complaints among people who sit all day. You can combat that by taking a quick break to work through a chair yoga session at your desk. YouTube has videos you can view for free.
Change desks. Another option is to trade your old desk for a newer “sit to stand” version. There are a variety of models to choose from. They allow you to work from both a seated position and to raise the desk top to work from a standing position.

One resource you might find helpful is The Anytime Anywhere Exercise Book by Joan Price. It contains over 300 exercises that can be performed anywhere, including at your desk.

I hope these suggestions help, Stacey!

I offer these suggestions as general information.  Of course, you should consult with your medical provider before starting any exercise program.

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