It is about time I write an exercise related post for my sane friends who do not run half marathons for fun. This past semester, I took a class called, “Exercise Psychology and Behavior Change.” While many of my colleagues are past or present athletes, this was a necessary reminder about the importance of physical activity and exercise. I do not want to bore you with the nerdy details but stick with me. In efforts to help my fellow exerciser, I am going to “hit the high points” of an entire semester of learning (easy enough right?). Basically, we learned the importance of being physically active and decreasing our sedentary behavior. Hold the eye roll, this is important.
- Physical activity: any type of physical movement (taking the stairs, walking to work, etc)
- Exercise: intentional physical movement (going to the gym, taking that Zumba class, etc)
- Sedentary behavior: not good. (sitting all day, getting little physical activity, not exercising, etc)
Ok great, do not be sedentary. Got it. I understand this is not that simple and that is the point of this post. So what can we do to be more physically active and less sedentary?
First, I want to talk to you about some of the benefits of regular exercise and then explain some ways our average Jill can get active, without the gym. While a regular workout routine is ideal to overall health, this is often not enough. To live a truly healthy life, we must work to reduce our sedentary time. Regular exercise can improve your mental capacity and overall cognitive performance (aka your focus). In simpler terms, exercise helps you focus and process what you are trying to do. Exercise also can improve sleep quality and overall mood (hello happiness, right?). A simple 20-30-minute workout can improve your mental health by fighting anxiety and depression.
For those of you motivated by fear, please continue reading the following statistics:
- People who are physically active for 7 hours a week are 40% less likely to die at an earlier age than those who exercise for less than 30 minutes a week.
- Exercise reduces your chance of cardiovascular disease (CVD is the number one cause of death, globally)
Simply enough, exercise is medicine. It is a medicine you do not need a prescription for. It takes discipline and being creative.
Some ideas to become more active in your office:
- Get together with some co-workers and hold each other accountable to take a short walk.
- 10 minutes of physical activity will actually improve your productivity, rather than falling asleep at your desk at 2pm or grabbing that 2nd pot of coffee.
- Having a group makes it more enjoyable and harder to ignore.
- Talk and walk. Have a meeting? Suggest walking and discussing.
- Read while standing. Even if you do not have a stand-up desk, take advantage of some time off your seat.
- If you are standing, you are not sedentary 😊
- Take the long way around. When you go to refill your coffee, water, or take a bathroom break, take an extra lap (or 3) around the office.
- If a coworker questions your “pacing,” just tell them you are improving your overall quality of life and fighting sedentary behavior, I promise you they will not question you again.
- Get in a step challenge with your office-mates
- Walk to discuss an item you would normally email
- Some simple options that don’t require breaking too much of a sweat:
- Do wall sits or a squat
- Chair yoga is a great way to relax and refocus (depending on your schedule)
Exercise is often the first thing you decide not to do after a long day at the office. I get it. Life happens and the day gets long. You do not have a to run a marathon to be “fit.” Taking simple steps (no pun intended) to becoming more active will have lasting mental, physical, and cognitive benefits.
Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to talk about getting physically active in your workplace. Wall sitting in the office is not the way to a six pack, but it is the way to a healthier lifestyle.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this crash course.
Exercise to stimulate, not to annihilate. The world wasn’t formed in a day, and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them.Lee Haney