We all know that exercise is good for us and being inactive is bad. Common sense, right? But, did you also know that a sedentary lifestyle, even if you ARE getting the recommended amounts of physical activity is a risk factor for heart disease as well? I mentioned this as being problematic for most of us when the new ACSM Exercise Guidelines were released over the summer. So what are we to do? Most of us have to drive a car to work and sit behind a desk for several hours a day. The answer that some people have turned to is working physical activity in to their work day. While it is a great idea to get up and move around, lift some light weights, etc at random intervals throughout the day, is it really feasible? For me, it certainly is. My department is full of nutrition and exercise enthusiasts/professionals. There is a pull-up bar over my office door and a Swiss ball rolling around. I am lucky enough to be in an environment where “heading out for a walk” is no big deal. The onus to get up and move around is entirely on me.
For others, getting up and walking around or performing exercises may just not be part of the culture in the work setting, thus deterring folks from doing so. To change this I suggest approaching your boss/manager about instituting physical activity breaks in to the workday. Every 2 hours or so everyone could be encouraged to get up, walk, stretch, perform some light activity.
In the fall, I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Dr. Melicia Whitt-Glover who discussed the benefits of Instant Recess and how it can be incorporated in to multiple settings. What is “Instant Recess“? It is a group physical activity effort developed by Dr. Toni Yancey that aims to “Build a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time”. Designed for use in schools, offices, and community settings, Instant Recess is a great way to get people up and moving in a socially acceptable way!
If the nature of your work does not allow a group physical activity breaks, then I recommend creating an informal Office Fitness Challenge. This way, you and your coworkers can fit activity in to your own schedule, yet still track it and support each other in the office. The challenge can be of any nature: Increasing steps taken with use of a pedometer; training for a local road race/walk event; strength training gains; etc. Due to the recent addition of the pull-up bar in my office a group of us performed a baseline max out (I’m starting off with 8 reps), and will be working out on our own to increase that # before the next pull-up max!
If an office wide physical activity initiative is just not in the cards and you have to go at it alone, check out this post in the Washington Journal, which ranks office exercises by difficulty, sweat factor, and humility – and choose what you are comfortable with!
Do you fit exercise/physical activity in to your workday? In what ways? Is your work culture supportive of these efforts or do you feel awkward for sneaking in some movement?