11 Creative Ways to Incorporate Exercise Into Your Workday

exercise at work

Do you find it difficult to make time to go to the gym or keep up with a regular exercise program outside of work? If your work schedule doesn’t permit spending hours at the gym or exercising every week, you should do your best to find creative ways to incorporate physical activity into your workday.

This is especially important if you sit for long periods of time at your job, as research overwhelmingly links prolonged sitting with poor health outcomes and even increased mortality rates.  

Learn easy ways you can start to incorporate movement and exercise into your workday, getting significant health benefits without spending hours at the gym every day:

Take the stairs

Throughout your day you should try to find as many chances to walk or move as you can, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If you work in a building with stairs, you can even take a few 10-minute breaks throughout the day to do runs up and down several flights to get your heart rate going, burn calories, and tone your lower half.

Go for a walk outside

Whether you’re going out for lunch or taking a 15-minute walk around the building, make a little time every day, weather permitting of course, to get outside, breathe some fresh air, and move your body. Not only will you feel re-focused and re-energized for the rest of your workday, but your body will thank you for the physical exercise. If you feel can’t take that much time away from your workload, try to use your outside time to multitask by returning phone calls or participating in conference calls that don’t require you to be in front of a computer.

Take advantage of the on-site gym

Many offices and campuses now have gyms on-site that offer either free or discounted membership for employees, with wellness and fitness plans often built into or incentivized in your employment benefits package. This is a major perk in your workplace, so be sure to take advantage of any fitness options offered to you, even if it means you need to come in in hour or so early or stay a little late so you can use the facilities. It's much more convenient, and more of a time-saver, to use the gym at your place of work than make the trip to one off-site.

Sit on exercise ball

Maintaining good posture while you work is a form of exercise! Sitting on an exercise ball, for example, or other highly supportive chair can encourage good posture, increased blood flow, better balance, and even help to improve your core strength. Being uncomfortable while you work and poorly positioned for several hours each day can have a serious impact on your health, your mood, your energy level, and even the quality of your work or your productivity levels.

Walk around your building

According to research from the University of Missouri School of Medicine, sitting for 6 hours or more significantly impairs vascular function, but walking for only 10 minutes after prolonged sitting can reverse the damage. You don’t have to put on your running shoes and go for a 5-mile power run to reap these benefits. Making an effort to leave your desk or your office just a few times a day and walk around your floor or building is enough to get your blood flowing and have a positive impact on your health.

Park far away

If you drive to work, you can trick yourself into taking more steps  by simply parking farther away from your building than usual. Doing these things in combination (parking far away, taking the stairs, walking around your building, getting outside) will significantly increase your activity levels each day without disrupting your schedule or cutting into your work time.   

Bike to work

Ideally, you’re able to bike or walk to work (with the help of public transportation). Making the transition from driving to biking to work can be a big lifestyle shift at first (and a financial investment), but it’s one of the most impactful decisions you can make for your health and overall wellbeing.

Stand up often

If you’re tied to your desk or office for several hours and cannot break away to go for a short walk, do the next best thing. Just stand up! Some research suggests that standing up for a few minutes even once every hour has a positive impact on your health. Again, find ways, however small, to move your body and avoid sitting for long periods of time. Standing up may not be “rigorous” exercise, but it’s still doing your body good and better than remaining sedentary.

Don’t eat lunch at your desk

Avoid the temptation to eat while you work. Better yet, get outside to eat and incorporate a nice walk into your lunch break. If you find yourself frequently relying on meal delivery services to bring food straight to your office, change gears here and force yourself to walk to get your food.

Make face-to-face visits

It’s the little movements throughout the day that really add up over time. When you can and when it’s appropriate, avoid sending an email or message to a colleague in your building and simply walk over to their office and have a face-to-face conversation. If you make an effort to do this with most of your daily office activities (from getting your own lunch or coffee instead of sending an assistant, to checking your own mail, or making your own copies), you’ll find you’re able to add more steps to each day.

Stretches at your desk

Finally, it’s very likely that you’re still going to be sitting at your desk, in a lab, or in front of a computer for several hours a day. It’s just unavoidable for most people. Aside from making sure that you’re sitting in a good chair or on an exercise ball, don’t forget that you can still “move” even when you’re seated. Click here for 10 great stretches you can do without ever leaving your desk.

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