Here is the problem simply put: you move around a lot on the weekend, and for eight hours a day Monday thru Friday your movement is very limited.
You’re wondering how to stay more active at work. It’s very common for active outdoor enthusiasts to get anxious when confined to a desk. It’s not just that you’d rather be outside playing in the woods. It’s also the fact that sitting at a desk isn’t very good for you. Your range of motion is limited, you burn fewer calories, and it’s difficult to maintain proper alignment all throughout your body.
Making the following changes will make a big difference in your health, and subsequently, your mood. If you’re feeling better throughout the day it follows that you’ll be more effective at work. You’ll be less achy at the end of the day, and you’ll have a sense of accomplishment from taking control of your body and mind. It’s easy to feel like you’re chained to your desk, but it it’s also easy to break free and stay more active at work.
1. Stand up!
Will a standing desk give you a six pack and turn you into an Olympic athlete? Of course not. Will you lose a little weight and suffer from less back pain? The answer is yes. You burn about 50 more calories per hour standing vs. sitting. Over the course of a year that adds up to about 8 pounds. It will also keep your legs in better shape for those hikes you’re going to crush on the weekend. I have a Varidesk and love it, but they’re not cheap. Many other companies have started making desktop models that are ready to go right out of the box for a few hundred bucks.
2. Kick it up a notch with a surfboard.
The great thing about standing and working is that you unconsciously move your legs around just because you can. It creates less fatigue and you don’t get as antsy. After I had my standing desk for awhile I wondered if there were ways that I could be even more active while working. I tried a traditional balance board, but they’re far too demanding to focus on work.
Then I came across Fluidstance. They make a balance board specifically for standing desk folks. The angle on the bottom is just enough to keep your legs moving around unconsciously, but not enough to take attention away from the task at hand. I have The Plane and I love it. The nice thing about Fluidstance, as well as most standing desk companies is that they have great return policies, because they know that the whole standing desk thing isn’t for everyone. That said, I can’t speak highly enough of this particular combo. It’s been a game changer for me.
3. Don’t crank on a project for more than 90 minutes.
You might be the exception to the rule, but most people can’t concentrate intensely for more than 90 minutes, and many are closer to 60 minutes. Use this opportunity to move around a bit. My favorite thing to do is to simply walk up and down the stairwell. It only takes a few minutes, gets the blood flowing, and allows you to stretch your legs a bit. On those stairwells – skip a step and go a little slower. It feels great and is basically the same movement as performing squats. Feel the burn!
4. Figure out a 5, 15 and 45 minute walk around your workplace.
I have a personalized Google Map called work walks. If I just need a quick breather I’ll walk to the gas station and grab a cold press coffee (5 min). If I need to stretch my legs a bit more I’ll walk around a small park next to work (15 min). If it’s nice outside I’ll slam my lunch in 10 minutes and walk on a scenic trail that takes me through a marsh and over a few creeks (45 min). When you get this worked out I highly recommend that you start a little walking crew at work. I send messages out all the time that say, “It’s a nice day – wheels up at 12:15pm!” It’s a great way to get to know your coworkers better, while getting outdoors for a little exercise.
5. Use the bathroom on a different floor.
Every little bit helps. If you work in a storied office building, head up to the top floor for a bathroom break. Never use the elevator for any reason. If you have a few things to carry, great. More calories burned buddy.
6. Stretch throughout the day.
There are plenty stretches to be found online if you search for “stretches for office.” My favorites 3 are the (1) overhand reach, (2) touching your toes and holding, and (3) a good stretch for your IT band/sciatic nerve. For the latter I like to do a modified pigeon pose on the desk. This way don’t have to get on the floor, and it does wonders for keeping your legs loose. Simply place the side of your foot on a desk and lean forward. You’ll feel it immediately. Go slow, and do it a few times throughout the day.
7. Fitbit people – set a step goal for work.
If you have a Fitbit or Jawbone you’re used to going on walks after work so you can hit your steps, but it makes sense to have goals throughout the day as well. How many steps can you hit by noon? How many over lunch?