At times, it’s easy to feel like you’re chained to your desk. Even the notion of a lunch break (never mind trying to get outdoors!) can seem a little unrealistic. For all of you who know that feeling, we’ve asked our fit friend Monica Nelson to share some of her top tips on how to keep active in the workplace.
Desk jobs. Spending 8+ hours a day sitting sure can do a number on your body and can lead to various chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. No need to get down about it, though! If you’re pro-active (no pun intended), there are ways you can easily incorporate movement throughout your workday to avoid the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
So, I’m here to offer up 6 tips for how you can be more active at your desk job so that you will have more energy, avoid weight gain, and be more productive at work (I’m sure your boss will appreciate that).
1. Take the stairs
If you are lucky enough to have stairs nearby, take advantage! You can take the stairs instead of the elevator. You can walk them on your lunch break. You can even use them for a quick full body workout to give you a mega boost of energy and turn up your metabolism.
Here’s one of my favorite “lunchtime” stair circuits I offer my “9-5” clients.
2. Take mini stretch-breaks
Stretching counts as being active! Furthermore, it helps reduce stress and enables you to sit with more comfortably and with better posture. Take 5 minutes out of every hour you spend sitting and incorporate some stretches. Stand up and stretch your neck, back and shoulders. Neck pain, no more! You will be surprised at how much more relaxed you feel and ready to tackle that darn report due by 3.
3. Walk it out
Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it is! Try to leave your desk, and leave it often. For every hour you sit, move for 5 mins. Maybe this means walking to get your lunch instead of driving. Perhaps you choose to park farther away in the lot and trek the extra 1/4 mile. Need to take a phone call? Take a stroll and chat while walking rather than sit at your desk. Instead of sending an email, walk to your co-worker and talk face to face.
Get creative with getting your steps in and you’ll be surprised how they can add up. And how much is enough? Aim to take 10,000 steps a day. You might want to invest in a pedometer to make you aware of how sedentary you may just be and hold yourself more accountable.
4. Sit on an exercise ball or get a standing desk
Sitting on a fitness ball works your core muscles, assists in better posture, and will keep you more alert. Talk about multi-tasking! An exercise ball encourages your pelvis to rock gently forward while sitting, increasing the lumbar curve and naturally shifting the shoulders back (similar to sitting on the edge of a chair seat). Better yet, consider investing in a standing desk. The drain on your weight and health that comes along with sitting (back stiffness, tight hips, and slouching – to name a few) can be avoided by significantly reducing the amount of time you spend sitting on a chair.
5. Take a circuit-break
This is for those who can get away with a quick and efficient workout. Doing something, even if for just a few minutes, is better than doing nothing at all. Carve out 10 minutes and do the following circuit and you will be that much more pro-active than your desk-neighbor who sat at their desk and checked emails during that time.
BONUS: Every time you go to the restroom or take a coffee break do 10 pushups and 10 squats.
This might not be something you saw coming but this is one of the most important. You don’t need to sit on the floor in lotus pose to reap the benefits of a 5 minute meditation practice. Instead try to take a few moments to close your eyes and take some deep breaths. A simple breathing practice is to repeat to yourself “LET” on a deep inhale and then “GO” on a deep exhale. On your inhale pretend you are smelling the most fragrant flower. This can do wonders for your health, wellness, and mental clarity, all of which help you do a better job.
If this all seems like too much for you, perhaps just take a 5 from your work to take a break from the computer, close your eyes, and listen to relaxing music. After all, an active mind will lead to an active body.
I hope these tips help you as much as they’ve helped my clients!
Monica Nelson is a personal trainer, chef, accomplished athlete, model and much loved health and fitness expert based in LA. She inspires her clients to look and feel their best with her life motto: EAT WELL, STAY FIT, FEEL GREAT.
One of her greatest passions is cooking and the talented Moni loves to whip up healthy and decadent meals for her readers to enjoy. On any given day you can find her being creative in the kitchen, training her clients in the park, at the beach, out for a bike ride or catching big air on her snowboard.