Have you been struggling to lose weight? You might have tried dieting and working out, but nothing seems to take. Do you spend most of your day sitting behind a desk staring at a computer screen? A recent study has found that our sedentary lifestyle is more damaging than smoking.
A study led by University of Leicester combined the results of 18 studies on the topic concluded that spending long hour sitting people have a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease. What's even worse news is that meeting the physical activity recommendations seems to be irrelevant in this matter if you still spend hours on end inactive, sat behind a desk or on the couch.
Sitting for long periods also means that your body isn’t using much energy. If we translate that into calorie expenditure, you are less likely to meet the negative energy balance required for weight loss if that's your fitness goal.
Having worked with my clients for over 8 years we have discovered solutions that can help you become more active on your working days, improve your performance while contributing to your fat loss efforts. Here are a 5 (and a bonus) easy ways to break up your long periods of sitting and stay active throughout the typical workday.
1. Walk around while on the phone
When you’re working an office job, there will be times that you spend on the phone talking to clients, business partners or colleagues. While you may think the time you spend in those calls are wasted for other activities, you might want to reconsider. Why not roam around your office while talking business?
If you need to check your computer screen in the meantime, you are still close enough to do that, but still mving around and getting your daily steps in. If you have one of those fitness bands or smart watches, you can even track how many steps you took. Try comparing a normal office day and a day when you make an effort to walk at every possible opportunity. You may be amazed by the difference.
2. Arrange walking meetings/lunches
Walking can also be a great activity while discussing work in person with your colleagues or having your lunch break. In many cases meetings are just to catch up on latest news, inform your team about updates and agree next steps in our project. You can use your smartphone to take notes while walking around your office building or in a nearby park.
You can also prioritise yourself in lunch breaks and use it to have a walk around the neighbourhood or head to the park. You can either eat on a bench and then walk, or munch your sandwhich on foot. I may not sound very convenient, but if you think about how often you rush food on the go, this is a better option. Including a brisk stroll in the fresh air will also benefit your work performance, you’ll come back refreshed and ready to get cracking with the rest of the day.
3. Exercise without exercising
You can exercise while you’re at your desk. While it might look a little awkward to drop and start doing press-ups against your desk (who cares what others think though?), butt clenches or a pelvic tilt are easy enough seated and nobody would really notice.
You can also perform leg extensions under your desk and I'd recommend standing up and sitting down as often as possible, it's good enough for squats if you focus on your muscles while doing so. Just keeping your body constantly moving is enough to beat the negative impact of sitting.
4. Take Breaks Regularly
This is easier said than done, I appreciate that. However, staring at a computer screen for long periods of time is damaging in many ways. So if nothing else, but the health of your eyes should motivate you to take 5-10 mins away from it every hour.
Set alarm if needed, go to the toilet, take a short walk around the block. Do you need to speak to a colleage on the same floor? Stand up and walk to their desk instead of calling. Find ways that fit in with your day but allow you to take that break.
5. Practice Desk Yoga
Yes, yoga is very beneficial for your body, in this case we can call it stretching too if you don't like yoga itself. There are plenty of poses that you can do at your desk, check that video on the link. Stretching will not only hel you move around a little, but can ease the tightness of your muscles and joints that is one of the many costs of your sedentary lifestyle.
+1. Get yourself a standing desk
I added it as a bonus because I appreciate it may not be an option at your workplace. A standing desk can be a fantastic option. It will allow you to keep working while standing and can be adjusted for your height. Many people actually find these desks are more comfortable than sitting down.
Owner and creator of One Small Step, Joe has been in the health and fitness industry for 8 years and takes an all-round approach to his coaching.