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,

Boost your health with exercise

When it comes to our health, exercise is a powerful tool. It helps us stay young in body and spirit; it has the power to prevent and even treat some diseases; it can be as effective as medication in managing depression and anxiety; and it offers innumerable other benefits too – even a better sex life!

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping activity every week. Sadly, only 15% of adults actually achieve this minimum. Often people think they’re too busy to exercise, can’t find the motivation, get discouraged because it takes time to see and feel the benefits, or opt out because 150 minutes seems like too much of a stretch.

Happily, we know that there are health benefits to every workout – even ones as short as 10 minutes. Every time you exercise, small miracles are at work inside your body – so keep that in mind next time you find yourself running for the bus, or contemplating whether to use the elevator or take the stairs.

Here are some of the incredible (and proven!) benefits to making exercise part of your day, every day.

  1. Exercise for more energy: Falling asleep at your desk? Yawning your way through a lunch meeting? Too tired to play with the kids after dinner? Get up and get moving for more energy!
  2. Improved sleep quality: When was the last time you had a really good night’s sleep? That long?! Did you know those who exercise regularly (though not too close to bedtime) report better sleep quality? Commit to an after-dinner walk or bike ride – the fun, stress-relief, connection with nature, and exercise will do you the world of good.
  3. Better sex, more often: Too tired to have sex? Regular exercise can lead to a better body image and leave you with more energy for physical intimacy. Try it and see for yourself!
  4. Exercise make your skin glow: Exercise contributes to soft, glowing skin… but don’t even think about exercising outdoors without sunscreen.
  5. Exercise fights disease: More good news! Regular exercise can help prevent or manage heart disease and stroke, depression and anxiety, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, overweight and obesity, osteoporosis, and even some types of cancer. Strive for at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping activity every week and remember that unlike chocolate cake, when it comes to exercise, more is better!
  6. Get moving to feel happier: Exercise stimulates brain chemicals that help us to feel happier and more relaxed. Some research suggests regular physical activity is as effective as medication in treating mild-to-moderate depression. Fill your prescription for a daily dose of active fun.
  7. Exercise to maintain your weight: Exercise alone, rarely leads to weight loss, at least of significance. It can however, help one to maintain a healthy weight. You may be surprised to know that those who are overweight but active, are often much healthier than those who are slim but inactive. Whatever your size, exercise is essential for optimal health.