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For the last year I haven’t sat much in an actual chair while working for the Digital Workplace Group. I can often be found working as normal while walking on my treadmill or simply standing, sometimes even in high heels if I’m “in training” for one of our quarterly IBF member conferences, which I chair.
You may have read or heard about recent studies that show that sitting all day is contributing to a load of health-related problems. Studies are showing that it’s not enough just to squeeze in a run after work or on the weekends. That’s not to say that any form of exercise isn’t going to be beneficial, because it absolutely is. Even if you went for a walk each evening after work every little helps! However, if you sit all day for work, your health will suffer. Your company may even be encouraging employees to use standing and treadmill desks. Or you might work primarily from home, like me, and have simply resolved to “get fitter”.
The benefits of incorporating more exercise into your daily schedules are plentiful. For instance, did you know that incorporating exercise into your daily routines can help you to enjoy a better quality of sleep? Physical activity increases the amount of time spent in deep sleep, the most physically restorative sleep phase. Furthermore, deep sleep can help to boost your immune system function, supports cardiac health, and can also control stress and anxiety. Just remember to make sure that the mattress you are using is also conducive to a good quality of sleep.
So, how exactly can you incorporate fitness into your desk job so that you can reap the rewards?
5 tips for incorporating fitness into a desk job
Because I’ve been so happy, healthy and inspired in my personal workplace fitness craze, I want to share the most important things I’ve learned about getting started on this path.
1. Try a variety of set-ups
Like they say, “the best exercise is the one you’ll do”. Try working while standing. Or take that next conference call on your mobile phone and walk around outside. Book your catch-up with a colleague while you both take a stroll. Go for a jog on the treadmill while thinking over a work issue and dictate your thoughts into your mobile phone. When you’re in a conference, stand up regularly at the back of the room instead of sitting all day. The key is to experiment to find what works best for you.
2. Start small and slowly and build from there
Ask yourself regularly, “do I need to sit for this?” I started with simply trying to read a printed report while walking on a treadmill. This led to reading emails using an iPad. Next I retrofitted my treadmill with a board to hold my laptop. Now I can do everything I could do at a sitting desk, including typing on shared documents and joining video conferences (although a colleague told me he gets a little seasick watching me on the screen!).
3. Don’t overeat or junk out
Your appetite will likely increase with the additional physical activity. If weight loss or maintenance is also one of your goals, don’t use this as an open license to eat a lot more, especially junk food, than you normally would. Take it from me, you’d be surprised how much walking you have to do to offset a Krispy Kreme donut!
4. Be mindful of safety
This applies to you taking care to utilize the safety mechanisms on any exercise equipment and watching for trip hazards. And it applies to your computer equipment. I once killed a Skype headset and almost my laptop too when a cord got wrapped around my foot on my DeskFit bike pedal!
5. Engage others for support
Sharing your adventures and progress may inspire others. I’ve “converted” a number of other coworkers so far. I enjoy sharing this passion and inspiring others to find their own ways to incorporate fitness and avoid sitting as much during the workday. And once you publicly commit and have “workout buddies”, you’re more likely to keep the new routines going. No one said that exercise was going to be easy, but it is not impossible to achieve a goal. Others may need a bit more motivation, but in time, hopefully, people will see how important this could be for them and be a stepping stone to achieving these goals.
Share your workplace inspiration
The flexibility that the digital workplace provides has had a huge impact on my own fitness and well-being and has completely changed the way I work. If you have an inspiring digital workplace that enables you to work whenever, wherever you want, then enter the “My Inspiring Workplace” contest before 14 May and share a photo of the innovative workspace that keeps you going. Alternatively you can view the competition entries and rate each one on our five-point inspiration scale.
Angela Pohl (@angela_ibforum) became the Digital Workplace Group’s (DWG) first North American team member in 2006 and today is the Managing Director of IBF. She is passionate about continuously improving the member experience through excellent service, and exploring new ideas for developing the business.
Angela has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from London Business School. Before joining IBF, she worked at Avery Dennison and Bristol Myers-Squibb in the areas of engineering, quality management, marketing and information management.