If you’re like most Americans, you probably spend most of your day in a sedentary state. Most jobs don’t allow for a lot of free movement throughout the day, and while that 30 minute workout after the office does help, it isn’t much in comparison to the time spent sitting at work, watching TV, or sleeping. The health effects of sitting all day can be harsh; working an inactive job increases your risk of stroke, heart problems, back and spinal issues, and diabetes. To help you increase your health and lower your risks, here are a few easy ways to stay active during the day.
Get Up Earlier
Set your alarm half an hour to 45 minutes earlier than you normally would, and try to squeeze in a quick workout. Starting your day with brisk exercise can really help get your adrenalin pumping as well as provide you with more energy for the start of the day. Making time for a morning jog or a session of sit-ups and jumping jacks are both easy ways to stay active and can lead to a world of difference; you just have to be willing to make the time for it.
Swap Your Office Chair for an Exercise Ball
It may look a little silly, but sitting on an exercise ball instead of a traditional computer chair can be much better for your health. Because it lacks back and arm rests, you’re forced to keep balance, and that helps tone your core and strengthen your leg muscles as you’re sitting. Since this is a fairly new phenomenon, the scientific research is pretty minimal, and the chief of sports medicine at the Medical College of Ohio, Dr. Henry Goitz, recommends only using an exercise ball for part of the day to avoid becoming tiresome.
Take the Stairs
It’s amazing how many fully capable people opt for the elevator in the morning, and if you’re guilty of this habit as well, start taking the stairs. It’s one of the few options most offices have in regards to a slightly strenuous activity, and while it might not seem like much, taking the stairs a few times a day starts to add up. After all, any physical activity is better than none.
Move Around on Your Breaks
The University of California, Riverside (UCR) set up a campaign encouraging individuals to move around for at least 3-4 minutes every hour. Many health experts agree that it’s important to get up and stretch at work frequently in order to cut back on your health risks, and it really isn’t a hard task to accomplish. Instead of sitting in the office break room during your lunch or break, go for a walk, walk up and down the stairs a few times, or do some simple stretches. If you have to communicate with someone, walk over and talk to them directly instead of sending them an email. Even simply standing up at your desk for a few minutes when you’re in the middle of working on something helps. Moving around at work is important for your health, but it also can help you refocus and gain some mental clarity in the middle of a stressful workday.
Make Your Time after Work Count
Instead of aiming for a 30-minute exercise regime after work, try doubling your routine. Many people spend more time in the locker room getting ready for their workout than they do exercising in the gym itself. If you give eight or more hours of your time to your job, then at the very least you can spend an hour working on your physical health, and pushing yourself will cause a positive influence on all areas of your life. Avoid collapsing on the couch for the night after your workout; continue to move around throughout the evening by doing push-ups during commercial breaks or even watching a free YouTube video on relaxing yoga poses. No matter what it is, exercising before bed is a great way to wind down and get a good night’s rest.
There are many ways to stay active throughout the day, and acting on them can help cut back on the health risks that come with having a sedentary job. It’s not hard to do; it’s just about balancing your schedule and utilizing the extra time you have available, and by doing so, you’ll elevate both your physical and mental health.
James Anderson is a freelance writer, survivalist, and sports enthusiast. He currently writes about sports, fitness, and gym lockers for www.schoollockers.com.