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Keeping Fit And Active In The Workplace
Monday, 7 September 2015 00:15:00 Europe/London
In my last couple of posts, I have made a case for the following statements: that we all spend too much time sitting, especially whilst at work, that this prolonged sitting time is bad for our health and that our bodies have evolved to be active - not sedentary - machines.
In this post, I’d like to highlight different ways in which you can use your working day to greatly reduce the time you spend sitting
A New Way Of Looking At Achieving Real Fitness?
It’s common to think that to be fit we have to spend hours in the gym or at home on exercise bikes and treadmills. Gyms, though, are a relatively recent innovation, unheard of in our grandparents' generation. We are all born to be fit - we only really lose this gift through the daily routines of our everyday lives. Lives though are becoming increasingly sedentary as technology advances and eating habits change. Consider the following points:
Our bodies are designed to move at slow paces for medium-long periods of time
Our bodies are designed to perform well during high-intensity training sessions (HIT)
Therefore, it makes sense that we can expect to achieve optimal fitness by following a lifestyle that replicates the movements our genes are used to, which would involve a lot of slow movement and less regular bouts of high-intensity activity. A suitable type of workout plan may be made up of the following elements:
The bulk of the exercise regime should be made up of slow movement activities such as walking (2-6 hours per week)
One to three time per week, we should perform a high-intensity workout lasting for around 15 minutes
Essentially, the main reason for this framework is that it gives our bodies the exercise they evolved to do. For example. our genes are used to performing movements that our species have been doing for around 2.6 million years - lots of slow movement throughout the day foraging for food, and the odd high-intensity activity when we were hunting or running from predators. The thinking is that by aligning ourselves as close as we possibly can with our basic biological makeup, the more benefit we will realise from our effort.
How Does This Translate Into The Office Environment
The first thing would be to understand is that we all have a great opportunity to put our working days to much better use. Most of us have to be at work for 8 hours a day and if we can implement our fitness regimen into this we will be left with much more free time to spend with our family and friends when aren’t at work. There is a more serious issue here too - precisely because we spend so much time at work, we need to make sure that this time is beneficial for our health. So, implementing a ‘Primal’ based workout regimen at work adds value to two important areas of our lives - our health and the amount of time we have in our days for other important activities.
Working in the office presents an ideal opportunity to fulfill the most basic requirement of standing up more and also of moving around as much as you can.
Making a commitment to stand whenever you talk on the phone (you’ll be surprised just how much this will help)
Making a commitment to work standing at your desk as much as you can. If you have a laptop this is easy - simply use books or a box to elevate your laptop so you can work comfortably
Replicating the slow movement throughout the day mentioned above by using an under-desk stepper, peddler or similar
Using your lunch break once to three times a week to perform a 12-15 minute high-intensity training session (HIT)
Standing while on the phone or while working will really help you to realign more with the way your body has evolved to function. It will keep your metabolism at higher levels than if you were sitting and it will go a long way to reduce the chances of you developing some of the serious health problems associated with prolonged sitting. In terms of using the under-desk steppers and cyclers, the idea is that you use these at low-intensity levels throughout the day. Furthermore, performing a 12-15 minute HIT workout once a week during your lunch break helps complete the picture in terms of overall health and effective office workouts.
A Word On Productivity
I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, although just in case you haven’t read that yet and are wondering about how this type of activity will impact your productivity, there is a great resource from the University of Queensland that shows that office workers are more productive the less time they are sedentary. You can read more on this here.
Hopefully this post has shown that you can use your working day to boost your health, fitness as well as productivity. I think all it really takes to achieve this is a little perspective change along with some extra activity at work.