Working all day is hard enough, but now it seems like you might want to start working out while you work. The news that sitting down all day is bad for you isn't new—studies have repeatedly found it can lead to back pain, weak muscles, and increased risk for things like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It's not enough to just work out once a day; rather it's moving regularly throughout the day that makes a difference. So it follows that the best way to help yourself stay in good shape while putting in long hours at desk is to keep moving.
For many of us, this means sitting on an exercise ball (which has other, um, benefits too...). There are also classics like taking the stairs and visiting a colleague at their desk instead of emailing them. So there are plenty of ways to keep moving, but will you actually do any of them if left to your own devices? Hmm, maybe? Maybe not?
Thankfully (or not, depending on how much you enjoy being sedentary), the New York Times reports that companies are starting to integrate working out into the workday. Sure, it's good for you, the employee, but it's also good for them because it lowers their medical costs in the long run. Sneaky... Anyway, one such firm gives employees several ways to stay active:
Salo, a financial staffing firm in Minneapolis, for example, encourages walking meetings. In a conference room, Salo has set up four treadmill desks, where a height-adjustable working surface is placed above the treadmill track. The desks face one another, so that people can walk and take care of business at the same time.
Hey, cool. Now instead of just being embarrassed about how many times you get up to go to the bathroom during the day (what! it's important to stay hydrated!), you can now also be embarrassed about your complete inability to walk normally on a treadmill. Plus you can sweat in your work clothes. It's a win-win! But seriously, moving at the office does have tangible benefits. One 2007 study found that 18 people who were active while working had solid results:
The employees collectively lost more than 150 pounds, most of it in body fat. Their cholesterol and triglyceride levels also showed a collective decline.
If you're too afraid of biting it on a treadmill while in the middle of an important conference call, your other option is to schedule mini-workouts into your day. Here's how they do that a clinic in New York called HealthBridge:
During a break, one employee might do bicep curls using water bottles, while another might have her back to the counter where the office copier sits, with her hands placed shoulder-width apart on the countertop, doing triceps dips.
Sounds like a regular office party. Not surprisingly, employees at companies who implement movement programs are often resistant at the beginning. Said one HealthBridge employee, "There was a lot of giggling and laughing." But now most of their employees are into it, and, despite the potential for embarrassment, it actually sounds kind of perfect. You can kill the two often unpleasant activities of working and exercising with one stone, and just think how much more TV you could watch each night if you didn't have to waste time going to the gym.
Don't Just Sit There, Work Out at Your Desk [New York Times]
Image via Orange Line Media/Shutterstock.