Before you start reading this article, stand up and reach for the ceiling. Now reach for your toes. Now take a deep breath and go on a three-minute walk around your office building.
How do you feel now?
The research is real: Sitting for prolonged periods of time, day after day, is bad for our health.1 In fact, studies are making it very clear that our desk jobs are slowly killing us.2
Sound dramatic? Unfortunately, it’s not.
What’s Wrong with Sitting Idle All Day?
Sitting for more than just six hours a day elevates blood pressure and places individuals at a higher risk for obesity, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. Furthermore, individuals who already have a chronic illness and sit for the majority of the day are likely to see an increase in their symptoms.1
On average, we sit 9.3 hours a day. Have a long commute? That doesn’t help. Our sedentary lifestyle – particularly at work – has been dubbed the new smoking.3
“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death."
- James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, in an interview in with the LA Times4
At the end of the day, all of this sitting makes a lot of sense. While you may love your job – and we hope you do – there’s no question that it’s demanding. It requires you to sit and stay focused for the majority of the day. And after work, well, your next heap of responsibilities kick in with family and social needs that must be met.
It can be downright challenging to keep yourself mobile and active at work and find time to exercise when you’re home. But it is possible – and easier than you may think.
So don’t go quitting your office job. There are ways to keep excelling at work while becoming healthier than ever.
Fitness Challenge Ideas: 5 Ways to Move More & Develop Healthy Behavioral Patterns at Work
With one-third of our day spent sitting (and sitting hunched over and slumped down and straining our neck at that), there’s a lot of room for improvement. And the good news is, sneaking physical activity into our work day can be easy and fun.
Is your company ready to feel healthier, happier and more productive? Here are five fitness challenge ideas that include desk exercises at work and 10-minute office workouts.
1. Use an adjustable desk (and don’t just stand there).
Adding an adjustable desktop to your work station can significantly cut some deadly sitting hours, while still offering the opportunity to sit and relax when your body needs it.
Through this fitness challenge, you can do a whole host of standing desk exercises at work. Have fun with these mini workouts for your abs, glutes, legs and arms:
- Abs: Squeeze your core muscles tight for one minute while you type. Release your muscles and relax for one minute. Do as many reps as you can while you work.
- Glutes: Squeeze and release your glute muscles throughout your day to deliver a solid burn to your behind.
- Legs: Press high on your toes and come back to flat feet for an effective calf muscle workout.
- Arms: Have a lengthy document to read? Need to watch a webinar? Whenever you have a task that doesn’t require your hands, lift lightweight dumbbells as you remain productive.
2. Trade in your office chair for a stability ball.
When you want to sit and crank out some work, you don’t have fall back to bad habits in your office chair. Make the most of your time sitting with a stability ball.
Without even really realizing it, the stability ball will force your core muscles to continuously work to keep you centered on the ball. Furthermore, it’s more difficult to slouch or sit hunched over on a ball, so you’ll be more likely to maintain better posture.
3. Step away from your desk every 30 minutes.
Overall, the most effective way to use an adjustable or standing desk is to stand for 30 minutes, sit for 30 minutes (on your stability ball), and repeat. As your body moves between postures, your metabolism revs up.
During a period of standing, try to walk away from your desk completely every 30 minutes – if only for a few minutes. Go refill your water bottle. Go say hello to a colleague. Dive into a quick 10-minute office workout. Take a walk outside to flood your body with fresh air. It doesn’t matter what you do—the point is to get away from the hustle and bustle that is your mind in your computer.
Stepping away from your desk will help your mind regroup and take a breather. It will also get your blood flowing.
“We seem to get into a flow and press through opportunities for a break versus hitting ‘pause’. I’ve challenged myself to adhere to scheduled breaks every 30 minutes and my productivity increased right away ... Trust that your work can wait, and your efforts will be more streamlined if you permit yourself the chance to get that heart rate up a few times a day!”
- Nicole Grasso, National Wellness Strategist
4. Host walking meetings.
Working while walking is more common than you might think, and for good reason.
Getting your body moving is not only good for your health and well-being, but it’s also great for your productivity. If you’re moving while working, you’ll be more alert, more engaged, and be able to tap into more creativity.
So, have a meeting coming up? A conference call? Schedule a walking meeting around the office or around the building and reap the benefits of a more productive meeting of the minds.
5. Offer coaching through your workplace wellness program.
Arguably the best way to empower health, wellness and fitness achievement is to offer your company access to a wellness program.
Wellness coaching, an effective and popular component to certain wellness programs, uses conversation and strategy to actively and safely help employees:
- Receive general health and wellness education support
- Set personalized wellness and life goals
- Eliminate self-defeating beliefs
- Foster empowering beliefs, rational emotional responses, and healthy behavior patterns
- Address at-risk and chronic lifestyle behaviors
The best part? Not only are your employees actively working to improve their personal health and wellness, but your company culture and employee engagement are set to improve in tandem.
Wellness programs – especially ones personalized to meet the unique needs of your workforce – can single-handedly help your employees stay fit at work and motivate them to improve every aspect of their life.
Ready for Positive Behavior Change Within Your Company?
Through Bravo’s Online Health University, your employees can uncover and address the root causes of unwanted behaviors that lead to their specific health issues in just a few weeks.
From sleep to stress, nutrition to diabetes, and fitness to tobacco and alcohol, your employees will learn how to break down self-defeating beliefs, thought patterns and resulting emotional dependencies that drive unhealthy behaviors.
There is no substitute for individualized support. Bravo’s coaching services help individuals restructure their belief systems, emotional responses, and behavior patterns.
“I decided to enroll in coaching to meet my incentive even though everybody told me just to get a note from my doctor. Sometimes you need someone from outside your circle to give you that nudge you need.”
- Bravo Outbound Health Coaching Participant
Learn more about our coaching solutions to help support your employees in their well-being journey.
Put resources at your employees’ fingertips. Our health engagement portal offers exercise videos, individual challenges and even a monthly workout calendar for participants to increase their physical activity. Schedule a demo to learn more.
1MindBodyGreen. Why Sitting Is Killing You + 9 Things You Can Do About It. Accessed October 3, 2018.
2Newsweek. Yes, Your Desk Job is Killing You, New Study Confirms. Accessed October 3, 2018.
3Huffington Post. Sitting Is the Smoking of Our Generation. Accessed October 3, 2018.
4Start Standing. Sitting is the New Smoking. Accessed October 3, 2018.