Move it!

I subscribe to a blog called Zen Habits.  Recently there was a guest post from Matt Madeiro of Make Every Day Count.  Following are some great tips from Matt for those of us who sit at a desk for most of our day and after our day is over, we sit yet again watching TV.  Here’s how you can get your work done and benefit your health!

Tip 1: Move.  Any motion is better than no motion at all.   Your job might demand you spend a lot of time in a chair. You can’t always change that, but there’s nothing stopping you from doing your best to work within those constraints.

Tip 2: Set a timer.  Most modern phones come with a built-in timer, but you can always just keep an eye on the clock if you’re not keen on the sound of an alarm. You’ll be at your most productive state for 50 minutes intervals.  When time is up, stand up, take a stroll, move and then return to your work.

Tip 3: Incorporate bodyweight exercises.  Saving your exercise solely for the gym misses a simple point: several small sets of bodyweight exercises—knee or wall pushups and air squats as an example—throughout the day can be just as beneficial as thirty dedicated minutes on the treadmill, especially if those sets are timed to interrupt hours otherwise spent barely moving at all.  You don’t need more than five minutes to get the blood flowing before you’re forced to move back to your seat.

Tip 4: Keep walking.  You’ve heard the usual tricks: take the stairs where possible, park out as far as possible, and so forth. That’s solid advice, to be sure, but there’s no reason to stop there.  When your timer goes off, pace around your office for five minutes. At the end of your lunch break, don’t sneak back to spend some time on Facebook — take a walk around your office instead, or head outside to soak up the sun while you circle the block.

When you take a phone call, don’t lean back in your chair to accept it. Pop up and move around for the duration of the call instead. In the case of long calls, this can easily—and effortlessly—add minutes of walking into your daily routine, minutes you otherwise might spend with your jaw flapping and both legs stuck motionless to the floor.

Tip 5: Take a stand.  This is revolutionary thinking, so brace yourself: standing is not sitting. It’s so far-removed in how it tasks the body, in fact, that you could call it a kind of exercise in itself.  Standing desks, unfortunately, haven’t hit the mainstream. If you’re stuck with a regular desk, however, you can still see the benefits of taking a stand. It might seem like an obvious trick, but try this: when given the choice of sitting or standing, choose standing first. When you’re visiting someone’s office, stand for a decent-sized chunk of the conversation. When you’re enjoying your lunch break, don’t be afraid to stand while you eat or prepare your meal. If you find yourself closing the door to your office for a good think, why not do it up on your feet?

When you get home from work, too, don’t immediately drop down on the couch. Stand in the kitchen while you cook, stay upright while you talk with family, and just try and delay that familiar combo of TV and couch for as long as your legs allow. A sudden increase in your standing time won’t come too easily at first, but stick with it and you’ll see your endurance rise within the span of a week.

The tips above might not replace dedicated exercise, to be fair, but I think they can do one better: supplement your existing routine, or even put you on the path towards implementing one in the first place.

Remember that exercise doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t demand three hours in the gym or long, sleepless nights on the treadmill, but it does ask you, now, to take an interest in your well-being, and to take small, steady steps toward improving your health.

Do you have any tips to share?  How do you keep moving during the day?  Leave your comments below!

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