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Move Throughout Your Day

This Wednesday May 15 is National Employee Health and Fitness Day. Maybe the company you work for is doing something to honor it, or maybe they’re not. We’re going to talk today about some strategies for getting a bit more movement into your day. This is going to mainly apply to folks working desk/seated jobs.

Sitting or Standing?

Over the last several years, we’ve started to hear folks sounding the alarm about too much sitting being bad for our health. At times, this can get a bit hyperbolic and shamey. Here’s what is certain: excessive sitting isn’t great for your body in both the immediate and long term. On the flip side, excessive standing in one place isn’t great either. Maybe you’ve heard the saying “The best posture is your next posture.” Ideally, you move your body through both seated and standing postures during the course of your workday. 

Standing desks are a great option, or a walking pad at your desk can be helpful. I have one at home and was surprised to find that I can type and do lots of different work while walking at a pretty moderate pace.

Increasing Your Step Count

Along the same lines, it’s great to work towards increasing your step count. Step count is one metric that can measure your overall activity level in a day. It is, of course, not perfect, and not the only way to measure your activity. That said, finding small ways to increase your overall step count is a helpful way to get more overall activity in a day. There are various recommendations for how many steps you should take in a day. I’m a fan of taking a baseline measurement. So if you use a watch or similar gadget to count steps, look at your average over the course of about a week. Then, set a target that is 5-10% more than your baseline. Achieve it by:

  • Using a further away bathroom
  • Parking further away
  • Taking a short lunch break walk
  • Take a dance break between meetings or other sitting tasks (yes, dancing also increases your step count!)
  • Make 1:1 meetings walking meetings if it’s feasible
  • Walk while you’re on the phone

Using Timers

Interestingly, using timers can also help improve your focus and time management. It is generally recommended to avoid sitting for more than about thirty minutes at a time. Set a timer for thirty minutes and focus on one task. When the timer goes off, take a short break for movement, refreshment, or to walk down the hall and tell off your boss.

Take a Little Stretch

All movement doesn’t have to be wildly intense! Taking a few minutes to do some stretches or mobility exercises is a great way to break up long periods of sitting. If you need a little stretch inspo, this is a video I recorded several years ago that leads you through about ten minutes of stretching. It’s all standing and takes you through a pretty full body stretch!

If you’re a person who hits the gym regularly, please don’t think that you do your one hour or so of workout and then you’re good to just be stuck in a chair at your desk for the next eight hours! The gym or other designated workout should be one part of your movement routine. It’s important to also get movement during the remainder of your day to reduce health risk. Now I’ve been sitting here writing for a while, I’m going to go dance it out!

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