Staying fit if you have to sit at a desk all day is a challenge facing most office workers. Many employers invest a lot of money in ergonomic seats and furniture to make sitting as comfortable as possible. While it is commendable that bosses think of their employees’ comfort, sitting all day behind a desk can seriously impact on your health.
Most of us know about the health benefits of staying fit. Being active every day helps to keep cholesterol under control, improve muscle health, control weight, and manage stress better. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic advise that you should be active for at least 30 minutes every day to help stay fit. Ideally, you should also get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise every week. (1)
However, if you have to sit all day for your job, it may seem impossible to find the time to stay fit.
What can you do to stay fit if you have an office job and are stuck behind a desk all day? In this article, you will find many tips on maintaining physical activity if you have a sedentary job.
First, it is important to recognise the dangers of not being fit and how sitting for long periods can impact on your health.
According to studies carried out in Australia, 60% of waking hours are spent sitting behind a desk or at home on the couch. Some of the health implications that researchers noted was back pain, exhaustion, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. The result of these health problems was a general decrease in job satisfaction. (2)
Because a sedentary lifestyle can have a very negative impact on health, many states in Australia have undertaken campaigns to reduce sitting time to prevent complications associated with obesity.
How can you become more active during the day if you have a long commute to work, are stuck behind a desk, and enjoy relaxing on the couch at home after work?
It may be possible to speak to your employer to arrange for an adjustable desk that allows you to stand or sit at your desk. If your boss doesn’t want to invest in office furniture to create active workstations, you may be able to see if you can arrange that yourself.
There is plenty of scientific research showing that standing keeps you more active than sitting and burns more calories. Some researchers advise that standing between 2 and 4 hours a day should be the goal of all office workers to stay fit and healthy.
If you commute by public transport, try getting off a stop or two before your usual stop and walk to your destination. If you drive to work, you may be able to park further away from your office and increase your physical activity by walking.
Depending on your circumstances, you may also be able to walk or cycle to work which will really help to keep you fit and healthy.
To stay fit if you have an office job, continually look for ways throughout the day where you can walk more rather than take an elevator
You can also use your lunch break to become more active at work and help stay healthy. For example, use 30-45 minutes of your lunch hour to jog, cycle, swim, or take part in any other aerobic activity. If you feel that you need to build your stamina up, try starting off with taking a 10-minute brisk walk every day and then gradually build up the length of time you walk.
There are also many ways that you can increase physical activity every day at work. Here are just a few ideas that may work for you:
Speak to your HR department or boss about increasing workplace activities.