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Deskercise: 20 ways to get moving at work

People having a standing meeting at work

Sedentary jobs that require you to sit most of the day come with a host of health risks. HFG dietitian Melissa Meier helps you get in more steps in with 20 ways to move more at work.

The average Westerner sits for about 10 hours a day.

That’s right — nearly half our day is spent with our bum on a seat — and that’s a real worry, given that excessive sitting has been linked to conditions like heart disease, diabetes and even poor mental health.

If you’ve got an office job, chances are that most of your sitting is done at work — which makes your 9-to-5 workplace the perfect spot to start becoming a little more active.

Here are some simple ways to boost your step count at work

1 Head outside during your lunch break and take a walk or jog in a nearby park. If you’re lucky, there might even be outdoor gym equipment waiting for you!

2 Ask your employer to consider investing in a standing desk, so you can break up long periods of sitting with standing.

3 Arrange a ‘walking meeting’ outside a couple of times each month instead of inside the boardroom.

4 If leaving the office for a walk isn’t a realistic option, organise a ‘standing meeting’ instead.

5 Step away from your desk to eat. Walk to the kitchen or a pleasant outdoor space to mindfully enjoy your lunch.

6 Do you email colleagues who are close by? Get up from your desk, walk over and speak to them face-to-face instead.

7 Hop off the bus or train a stop (or two or three!) early on your way to work and walk the rest of the way.

8 Set a mid-morning and mid-afternoon reminder to stand up and stretch. Get your colleagues to join in!

9 Nothing beats a little competitive spirit, so why not start an office step challenge or lunchtime tournament?

10 Say goodbye to the lift. Climbing stairs for just 10 minutes burns 500 kilojoules (120 calories).

11 Stand up to read large documents rather than sitting down.

12 Keep a small glass of water on your desk each day. As well as hydrating you, it will give you a good reason to walk over to the water cooler regularly.

13 Divert work calls to your mobile — so you can stand up and walk around while you’re on the phone.

14 Are you part of a team of coffee drinkers? Why not volunteer for a mid-morning coffee run now and then.

15 When nature calls, use a toilet on another level. It’ll help you get in a few extra sets of stairs during the course of the day.

16 Remove the paper bin beside your desk, and walk to a communal bin a bit further away each time you have rubbish to dispose of.

17 If you drive to work, park far enough away so that you have to walk about 10–15 minutes to get to the office. Wear your joggers and change shoes at the office.

18 Set hourly reminders that prompt you to get up and move about the workplace for a minute.

19 Need to use the photocopier or to pick up some printing? Walk a lap around the office before you return to your desk.

20 Move those muscles while you type! There are plenty of gentle desk exercises, like seated heel raises, seated crunches, or bicep curls with your handbag.

Step on it!

Did you know it’s recommended we all be aiming for about 10,000 steps a day? That might seem like a challenge, especially in an office, but breaking it down makes it much more do-able:

30-min brisk walk before work = 3,500 steps + 15-min walk on your commute to work (eg, get off the bus two or three stops early) = 1,800 steps + 5-minute mid-morning stair walk = 550 steps + 15-minute walk at lunchtime = 1,800 steps + 5-minute mid-afternoon stair walk = 550 steps + 15-minute walk on your commute home from work = 1,800 steps = DAILY TOTAL 10,000

Did you know?

Exercise reduces stress hormones and stimulates production of endorphins to promote relaxation

First published: Jul 2020

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