If you know me on a personal level, it might shock you to learn that I can sit still for several hours on end without moving more than to recross my legs. Being completely focused on and immersed in work isn’t necessarily natural, but it is a talent I have and can do well. Sometimes I even won’t let myself use the restroom until I finish a task (dear me, Mom, don’t be mad. I just have a great work ethic/reward system). Sure in the personal sphere I’m an occasionally over-energetic pseudo-tap dancer of sorts, but even I can be an adult at times
However, this “talent” of mine is actually incredibly bad for you, as reported by The New York Times last month in the article, Working Out Inside the Office. The bad stuff: sitting for long periods of time causes muscles to become slack and increases your risk of all those yucky diseases no one wants because they make your quality of life downright bad. And I thought I was totally immune from these issues because I work out in the morning but…I was wrong. According to NYT, “People might think they are protecting themselves from such problems if they exercise outside of working hours. And employers may pat themselves on the back if they offer their workers subsidized gym memberships. But regular exercise doesn’t entirely make up for the shutdown of chemical processes that occurs during long periods of sitting, research has shown.” Let’s say that again: regular exercise does not entirely make up for the shut down of chemical processes that occurs during long periods of sitting…like those hours and hours I sit on end at work?
And it’s not just me. It’s my work wife. It’s my boss. It’s the development team. It’s customer relations and marketing and pretty much anyone except sales (because sales is so bouncy, I swear it’s the adrenaline they must have from make sales). So what are we to do?
Well, the New York Times recommends everything from water bottle curls to group exercise breaks, but I think their most important suggestion is this: every little bit counts. You have to get up off the chair and away from your computer, and you have to make the conscious and actual choice to do this, but you really can. Maybe you’re into jumping jacks – do them in your cubicle while listening to your favorite song…do it with enough pizzazz and I bet the office will join you because you’ll look like you are having so damn much fun. Or as This Confetti Life suggested recently in my comments section, try pulling off angled pushups on the counter in the bathroom. Get wild and walk around the block outside your office – fresh air doesn’t hurt, so I’m told.
If you’re a workaholic, or work for a workaholic (or a micro manager) it can be challenging to find the time and place to get involved with exercising at the job. If you’re worried you are one of those sedentary and unhealthy humans, then try the following:
1. Talk to your boss. Show them the article, say you’re concerned, and it’s something you think you and your coworkers should try. You never know. They might agree.
2. Be super-sly. When you have to run an errand down the hall, go the long way or double back. If you have to take a staircase, take it twice instead of just once. Do the can-can under your desk. Tighten and release your abs while sitting. Get creative!
3. Or if you need some support or outreach from a professional, try writing into Alison Green at Ask a Manager. Ten bucks says she could give you a reasonable way to approach your boss and get the result you want – which is a fit, healthy, happy and productive you.
4. Get an exercise ball to sit on, or use a standing desk. If your office is high tech and allows this to be budgeted out, it can be a great way to move and keep re-situating yourself.
Okay friends, go be healthy!