4 Ways to Keep Active While Working a Desk Job
We’ve all seen those scary headlines proclaiming that “Sitting is Killing You”. To combat the negative effects of sitting, formerly fringe concepts like treadmill/cycling/standing desks are becoming more known. While those alternatives are becoming more widespread, it is still hard for workers to actually IMPLEMENT those options. But there are ways to build more movement into your day, even if you are stuck at a desk.
1. Get up every hour
Just making it a priority to stand up for a couple of minutes each hour will make a difference, but doing a few stretches or exercises during this break is even better. Need a reminder to do that? Here are some alternatives to watching the clock:
Programs can be installed on your computer to alert you to move: some are as simple as a timer and a chime, while others suggest exercises, stretches or wellness tips. I’ve been playing with Fitbolt lately, a utility with tips. Being a telecommuter makes a mid-day side plank a little more feasible, something I probably wouldn’t do if I were in cubicle-land.
Another option is to use a smartphone app. I really like the app Lift because you can choose exercises or stretches at set intervals throughout the day. It does take a little upfront planning and organization, but once that’s done, the app takes care of your reminders.
2. Use a Fitness Tracker
Wearable fitness technology is a BOOMING industry—there are so many options available now! Some devices (Jawbone Up and Fitbit Flex) even allow the user to set a vibrate alert if they’ve been inactive for a set amount of time.
A device with a visible reminder of how many steps you’ve taken can be useful since the information is readily available at a glance. I have been using a Garmin vivofit which displays a red bar across the screen if I’ve been inactive for an hour, and the bar grows the longer I am inactive. If the bar fills the whole screen, I know I’ve been idle way too long! (Also, check out their commercial featuring the Bivi desk by turnstone)
3. Keep Smaller Gadgets on Hand
Not everyone has space for a treadmill desk, but most people could fit a tennis or golf ball in their desk drawer. Slip your shoes off under your desk and roll your foot on the golf ball to keep muscles happy. Use the tennis ball to roll out your back muscles: simply lean back on the ball in your chair and roll it around a little.
A resistance band is small and fits well in a drawer, these can be used to do a variety of moves that work the entire body (see 33 Resistance Band Exercises You Can Do Anywhere). You can also use the band for some simple stretches. Just hold onto the band with both hands, stretch your arms overhead, lean to each side and feel the release. Aaaaah….
4. Fidget, Wiggle, Stand
It’s no substitute for a regular exercise program, but fidgeters tend to be more fit than those who don’t wiggle around. The reason? NEAT: that’s non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Your body burns calories just by living. Although lying on your back all the time is using calories, every little extra movement increases that energy expenditure. So stand up when you take a phone call, wiggle your feet under your desk or do a jumping jack with each email you send. Each little movement will add up!
Sitting on an exercise ball at the desk is another way to introduce some NEAT into your life. The unstable surface requires your core muscles to activate. However, I found that the exercise ball was at the wrong height for my desk/keyboard and I didn’t want to cause more discomfort in my body due to poor ergonomics. Instead, I recently started sitting on the Buoy and I love that it is height adjustable so I can make certain I’m at the right angle for typing all day.
Make it movement a game and come up with your own rules. No matter what, you’re always the winner!