When things get hectic it can be tough to find time to do the things you need to do for your health like hit the gym or go for a run. It’s during those times that you have to get creative to protect your health. Carving out a little “me” time during the work day can feel selfish or like you’re cheating your employer by doing something other than work but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact exercise has been proven to increase mental acuity, focus and overall cognitive function, all of which improve the quality of your work. So strap on your comfy work shoes and set the alarm on your phone to remind you to get in a workout at work.
1. Walk part way to work: Traditional advice is walk or ride a bike to work, but for most of us work is too far away to walk, and in many cities and rural areas biking can be down right dangerous! Instead leave ten or fifteen minutes early for work then park in a spot that is a ten or fifteen minute walk from your job (for most people that’s about a half a mile). Ten minutes early is so doable and once you walk to work in the morning then walk back to your car after work, you’ll have done 20-30 minutes of exercise without even trying…sweet!
2. Use rubber resistance bands or tubing for strength training at your desk: This one is a no-brainer. Stick some rubber resistance equipment in your desk drawer and when you have a minute (and I mean that literally) do a strength exercise. Taking a one minute break every hour is easy and won’t mess with your productivity one bit (you spend more time than that cleaning out you emails every day) and doing 8 strength exercise a day can easily get you a full body workout that will improve your overall health. Don’t know what exercises to do? Check out my book series Workout at Work for 175 exercises you can do at your desk.
3. Do the prairie dog: Move from sitting to standing constantly during the day. When you sit for extended periods of time (3 hours or more with out getting up) your large muscle groups basically go dormant ceasing most electrical activity. By simply standing up you burn 60 calories more an hour as opposed to sitting down. Add in some movement (like pacing or stretching) to your day instead of just sitting at your desk and you increase the number of calories you burn and the work your muscles perform. Another great thing to do is buy or rig up a sit/stand desk that allows you to stand up while doing some of the work you might normally do seated. Before she got her standup desk from Ergotron, my wife simply stuck a box on her desk that was the right height for her then put her monitor and keyboard on it. But there are tons of options out there that can keep you getting up and out of your chair regularly.
4. Arrange walking meetings: Walking meetings are all the rage in progressive companies like Apple, 3M and Google and for good reason. They increase focus, engagement (just try to nod off during a walking meeting) and results. Most companies are setting up meeting routes allowing employees to get out in the sun and fresh air which can help stimulate fresh thinking and new ideas. A relatively flat half mile route that is easy to walk is perfect and gets everyone in the meeting a little activity that will refresh and invigorate body, mind and spirit. And who knows what brilliant ideas will come from your walking meetings! It worked for Steve Jobs!
5. Ultra low intensity cardio at your desk: This one is a little tricky but it can be done. Ultra low intensity cardio is simply walking or pedaling very slowly while working at your desk (like walking at a pace of about 1 mile an hour). You’re moving but not enough to make you sweaty or out of breath. This can be accomplished with a treadmill desk, a piece of equipment like the FitDesk bike desk or an under desk pedal machine. This isn’t going to get you ready for a triathlon or even next month’s 5K run but it will burn a lot more calories than if you just sat at your desk, and research shows that it can really reduce your risk of developing certain life style diseases like diabetes, heart disease and certain kinds of cancer.