8 ways to make your workday more active

Research has spoken and it’s proven that exercise makes us happier and healthier. It helps prevent disease; keeps us young in mind, body and spirit; is more effective than some medications in treating anxiety and depression; and can even add years to our lives.

Only 15% of Canadian adults however, are active enough to meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines which recommend at least 150 minutes of heart pumping activity each week. There are many factors contributing to our sedentary lives, desk jobs and the time we spend commuting in our cars, at the top of the list.

Over sixteen million Canadians spend half of their waking hours at work, the vast majority in sedentary jobs. As those who see the toll ‘sitting disease’ is taking on our health and that of our children, it’s no wonder doctors have begun handing out prescriptions for exercise.

Take a stand against inactivity and take steps (literally) to enhance your health. Stand instead of sitting, walk instead of standing, and ramp up your activity gradually until you meet or preferably exceed, the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommendations (which also recommend at least an hour of heart-pumping activity daily for children and teens).

Even short periods of activity that increase your heart rate count (yes, even 10 minutes). In fact, research suggests we may be better off having several mini workouts each day than one longer one. We know for example that hitting the gym every morning does not counter the effects of an otherwise sedentary day.

Here are eight simple ways to add more activity to your work day:

  1. Choose active transportation like walking or cycling to get to and from work.
  2. Run errands at lunch – it’s amazing what you can get done when you put your mind to it.
  3. Swap sitting meetings for walking meetings.
  4. Commuting by car? Park a few blocks from your workplace and walk the rest of the way.
  5. Using public transportation? Hop off the train or bus a few stops early and walk briskly to your home or office.
  6. Start a workplace walking group to help foster a workplace that values and supports employee health.
  7. Use coffee breaks to get moving: make use of the stairs for a few minutes at a time; enjoy a standing stretch break; catch a breath of fresh air outdoors.
  8. Get out of your chair and move every half hour, even for just a few minutes.

In good health,

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