We’re just over one month into the New Year and yet many of us have already abandoned our resolutions to stay fit. The main culprit for this exercise apathy could well be the workplace – when you’re glued to a desk all day in a high stress situation, the couch is more appealing than the running track.
I spoke with Fitness First national training manager Michael Cunico to get his realistic tips and then put them to the test.
“If you catch a bus, train or tram, get off the stop before or after your usual stop and walk from there.”
Honestly, I slept in the first morning of this get fit plan, so having a longer commute definitely wasn’t an option. I got off a stop early on the way home, however, and it drastically upped my step count.
“If you go out for lunch, choose a place that’s a 10 or 15-minute walk away.”
This was an easy one…I love any fitness tip that includes eating! I work in the CBD so there is an abundance of restaurants and cafes. I chose one a bit further afield and walked there and back, with a detour around the block on the way back. My lunch felt well earned.
“Organise a computer reminder (post-it notes or calendar alarms) to prompt you at intervals to do something small like get a glass of water, go for a walk or do a stretch.”
I’m on a roll, midway through a story, powering along and … what’s that? My computer is insisting I do a squat. I’m not exactly overjoyed about this instruction, but it does remind me that I’ve been sitting cross-legged and hunched for quite some time. My ten squats wake me up and stretch my legs.
“Get a wireless headset for your landline so that every time you’re on the phone you have to stand up and walk around. Do the same thing with calls on your mobile.”
As a journalist, I have to record most of my calls and take notes, so wandering around is not an option. However, I do start making an effort to stand up whenever I take or make a call, and walk around the office when speaking on my mobile.
“If you have other people in your office who are likeminded, form a lunchtime workout group.”
While I managed to convince a couple of workmates to go on a weekly power walk with me, the challenge was coordinating the timing. Anything more elaborate, like a yoga class or gym session, would be a struggle so we agreed to keep it simple and aim for a Friday speed stroll through the park.
“Drink a lot of water. It will motivate you to get up and fill up your bottle and it will force you to go to the bathroom more regularly.”
This one definitely works! I was up and down constantly and my excessive hydration levels meant I didn’t need my morning coffee.
“When you go to the bathroom, go to the one on the level above or the level below and take the stairs.
My office was not designed for this tip, which is unlucky as I think it’s a really great one. Cunico advised me to build on this challenge each time by forcing myself to progressively go to the bathroom further away.
Instead, I was hesitant to use other floor’s bathrooms (they are separate businesses and we don’t mix) and, when I attempted to, got locked in the stairwell. But hey, if you can do it, you should!
“Don’t bring bad food into the office. Have a healthy communal snack pile with your fellow employees with things like nuts or fruit.”
My deskmate and I already had this agreement – we swap nuts, fruit and raw bars on the daily. It means I’m more likely to harass her for cashew stash than head to 7 Eleven for a chocolate bar.
“Have a “no email” day in the office.”
Rather than calling, emailing or instant messaging my colleagues, I spent the day walking over and having face-to-face chats with them. This was a time-saver, as it was easier to communicate what I needed and I also had some lovely chats with people.
“Use a pedometer to hold yourself accountable and try to break your daily records.”
To track my progress, I spent one day sitting idle and ignoring all of Cunico’s tips. By the time I got home, my step count was 3480. The next day, I decided to follow all the relevant advice and got home to find my pedometer sat at 5800. A big improvement, for sure, but I had still had a lot of work to do. It definitely helped to see the concrete difference the plan made and I have sworn to continue, even if it means I get locked in my stairwell on a daily basis.
Curl your ankles and wrists so they don’t lock up.
Just like being on an aeroplane for a long haul flight, sitting at your desk for long periods can be problematic to your health. This relieved tension in my joints and I also found that rotating my arms as if I’m doing freestyle helped loosen up my back, although my boss did tell me I looked like an idiot.
Stand up every half hour to stretch your joints.
Its good to get out of the seated position because sitting for long periods shortens your muscles and decreases mobility and flexibility. This is a simple one.
Go to the stairwell and do some step-ups.
Wherever you work, there will be stairs nearby, so this is a pretty accessible exercise.
Lunges and squats are quick exercises to help build muscle.
If you’re embarrassed, do them in the bathroom or the stairwell, or even alone in the elevator as you change floors.