This article was written in collaboration with TOVI expert, Dr. Tara Coletta. Learn more about Dr. Coletta here.
Spending long periods of time at your desk is hard on your body and your mind. Sitting is tough on your lower back and hips, and keeping your brain focused and alert takes a lot of energy (especially if you’re stressed). As a result, it is very important to give yourself breaks throughout the work day. Moving around, even little amounts at a time, helps your blood get flowing, re-energizes you, and gives you a natural ‘pick-me-up’.
Despite all the benefits, it can be hard to make movement a part of your workday, especially when you work in an open office or a high-intensity environment. Disappearing for an hour during the day to grab a workout isn’t in the cards for everyone, but there are easy ways to work movement into your busy workday.
1. Stick with short, scheduled breaks
Schedule short breaks frequently throughout the day. Your breaks can be as simple as standing up, refilling a water bottle, having a quick stretch, and going back to your desk. At-desk exercises are another great option for a quick burst of movement, like squats or walking lunges. Think about it: 10 squats every hour adds up to 80 squats in a day!
2. Move while you’re working.
Calling in to a meeting? Stand up! If you don’t need your computer, walk around the office or do simple stretches at your desk while you listen to others speak. You can even take your work emails on the go and grab a quick walk outside while you sort through your inbox (but keep in mind a phone-free walk would be the best choice for both physical and mental health).
3. Take advantage of lunch.
Use lunch as an opportunity to get moving. Go for a brisk 30 minutes walk for a huge mood and energy boost. If 30 minutes away from your desk is out of the question, try standing up while you eat or doing laps around your office area.
4. Make it a part of your normal day.
Pair your walking breaks with something you normally do during the day, like taking trips to the restroom or stopping by the water fountain. Spend a few extra minutes walking around the office the next time you need to refill your water bottle or take the long way to your next meeting.
5. Get your coworkers in on it.
Form a walking group with some of your coworkers, start a stretch circle in the afternoons, or just ask a friend to join you on a few walks a week. Having people to get active with help you stay committed to moving more, and it will make it more fun!
For more information on movement and exercise, check out these TOVI articles:
Written by Ashley Miller-Dykeman, MA
Ashley is a science communicator and writer with a background in biology (BA, Boston University) as well as bioethics and science policy (MA, Duke University). In addition to writing for TOVI, Ashley is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and a loving dog mom.