There’s a time and place to sit still at your desk. Unfortunately, that time tends to be much longer than is good for our bodies. Here are seven ways you can introduce movement into your workday.
1. Get a standing desk
Investing in a standing desk is one of the best ways to reduce your time sitting down during the day. Standing desks can help increase your energy levels and alertness, as you won’t be as prone to feeling sluggish after sitting for long periods. Plus, a standing desk allows you to work in a novel position, which can help to improve your posture and reduce your risk of developing back or neck pain. Ensure your monitor is at eye level; otherwise, you’ll just exacerbate any musculoskeletal imbalances.
2. Take advantage of your breaks
Another hack that can help you reduce the time you spend sitting down during the day is making the most of your break time. If you cut your breaks short because you don’t know what to do with yourself, this is your sign to stand up and walk around for a few minutes before getting back to work. Breaks are designed as a respite for your mind and body, so don’t waste them.
3. Set a timer
If you find it challenging to remember to stand and move throughout the day, try setting a timer on your phone or computer to remind you. You can set the timer at regular intervals (e.g. every hour) or depending on the events you have planned throughout the day (e.g. every meeting). A reminder will ensure you remember to take breaks and help keep you more accountable throughout the day.
4. Stand up when taking calls
The beauty of phone calls is that you can pace while on the phone. Do yourself a favor and wear earphones to move your arms freely as you walk around. For video calls, you can raise your device to eye level and stay in a standing position. To go the extra mile (pun intended), use a walking pad – these have become popular during work calls but understandably are only feasible for some of us. Any of these options will help to keep you from feeling too stationary during the day and will also help improve your circulation.
5. Sit on an exercise ball
Alternate sitting in a chair with sitting on an exercise ball. An exercise ball costs between $15 and $30 and can reduce hip and lumbar stiffness. Some movements to incorporate include hip circles, pelvic tilts, and bouncing. Always keep both feet on the ground unless you are familiar with this equipment and know how to use it otherwise.
Safety tip: make some measurements before purchasing to ensure the ball will be the right size for you!
6. Inconvenience yourself
Take the stairs (even if it’s just one floor). Park further away from your office building. Bike to work. Sometimes our days are too physically convenient, so find a way to challenge yourself as a form of self-care. If you drive to work, sit for nine hours, and drive back home to sit again, you are doing a great disservice to your future self. Sneak in some extra steps to increase your heart rate for a few minutes each day.
7. Do desk exercises
There is plenty of movement that you can do right at your desk, seated or standing! These can include hip stretches, hand mobility, and marching in place. Check out my blog on 30 Ways to Exercise in 2 Minutes or Less for ideas and adjust them to your needs.
I suggest implementing one of these at a time. Here’s an example of how I would compound these habits over a month:
Week 1: Walk around the building for the last 10 minutes of my lunch break.
Week 2: Set a reminder in my calendar to stand and stretch 5 minutes before each meeting of the day.
Week 3: Create an elevated area for my laptop, and attend video calls while standing.
Week 4: Start and end my work day with gentle neck stretches.
It’s also important to Optimize Your Workspace so that when you are seated, your body is comfortable. Take it one step at a time, and soon you’ll find it strange to stay stationary all day!