Most of us these days work in offices at desks where we barely get any exercise. As the human body is not designed to be sedentary, sitting too much can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and many other ailments. In 2012, a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic conducted a study with 30 employees of a Minneapolis-based eco-friendly cleaning supply company in which their desks were replaced with workstations that allowed them to either sit or stand while working. Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James Levine conducted a similar study in 2007 with a financial staffing firm where the 18 employees who had been more active during their workday lost 150 pounds collectively.
Moreover, activity not only benefits your health but also your performance. In another recent yearlong study by the Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota, Levine and his colleague Avner Ben-Ner, professor at the Carlson School of Management, found that treadmills boost productivity in the office. They surveyed both workers and supervisors who measured workers’ performance on a 10-point scale. By the end of the year, study participants scored a point higher when the treadmill desk was in their office than when it was not.
If you’re also inspired by these findings to be more active during your workday, consider the following lifehacks:
Let’s start with the aforementioned workstations. Standing desks and treadmills can significantly increase your activity if you work long hours at a desk. By standing while you work, you can burn an average of 200 to 400 calories depending on your weight. That number increases if you walk on a treadmill. Moreover, not sitting for eight hours straight will also benefit your back, heart, and metabolism, among other things.
2. Move as much as possible
If you’re cramped in a cubicle for eight hours, it can be difficult to find ways to move. To enhance your movement, try to rearrange your office so not everything is within arm’s reach. If your supplies and equipment are more spread out, you will automatically move more throughout the day. You should also consider taking as many breaks as possible. Take a walk outside around the building or up and down the stairs–just get moving. Instead of emailing or texting your coworkers, walk to their workstations. Incorporate little exercises and workouts in your daily office routine.
3. Don’t drive to work
Unless you have a really long commute, think about ditching your car when you go to work. Choose to walk, bike or use public transportation instead. Just think about how much you exercise you’d accomplish with a 20 or even 50 minute walk or bike ride to your workplace and back. You might not even need your gym membership anymore! If your long commute demands you to drive, you can still increase your activity by parking as far as possible from your workplace and walking from there.
4. Make your office dog-friendly
Myriad studies have shown how dogs in the workplace reduce stress levels and enhance productivity. A dog-friendly office can also increase your activity. Dogs naturally need regular exercise, so you’ll need to take them out once or twice a day if they’re your office mates. Just taking them around the block or playing fetch in a new park for a short while can have a significant impact on your health. The CDC recommends 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity physical activity to decrease the risk of developing diseases such as type-2 diabetes–merely two dog walks.
5. Choose an outdoor career
There is a plethora of well-paying jobs and industries out there that don’t require you to sit in an office all day. RSI, for example, points out that there are numerous careers you can chose from that will get you out of the office, from electrician and HVAC mechanic to solar panel installer, to name only a few. If you work in civil engineering, you work on public construction projects like highways, bridges or dams. If you’re employed in the environmental industry, you’ll check sites for environmental hazards, like poor air quality, pollution or wastewater. Other outdoor careers include urban planner, geologist, lifeguard or ski/surf/snowboard instructor.
So, now you don’t have an excuse for not being active in your job. Incorporating just one of these tips can have a huge effect on your well-being and productivity. As First Lady Michelle Obama says, let’s move!