Sitting at your desk for long periods of time can reduce blood circulation, increase your risk for depression and obesity and cause muscular imbalances that can lead to injury. But regularly walking throughout the day (for even just five minutes at a time) can help you stay active, healthy and increase your productivity.
Whether your goal is to reach 10,000 steps per day or just take a mental break, try these nine creative ways to walk more at work:
PARK AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE
Opt for the fourth floor of the parking garage or way down the street where there aren’t many cars. It’ll only add a few minutes of extra time to get to the office, but it can be a great way to add a short burst of exercise to your day.
DON’T HAVE A WATER BOTTLE AT YOUR DESK
Good hydration is important for promoting overall health and weight loss. To kill two birds with one stone, keep a small cup at your desk so you have a reason to get up frequently for water refills. Those extra 100 steps each hour add up by the end of the day. If there’s more than one water cooler, skip the one right by your desk and head down the hallway for an added benefit.
USE THE BATHROOM THAT’S FURTHEST AWAY
If you’re hydrating well, you’ll likely make more frequent bathroom stops. When you do need to get up, head to a bathroom on a different floor — and take the stairs to get there instead of the elevator.
EXERCISE DURING LUNCH
A midday break can be a great way to re-energize and clear your mind. If you have a gym available, try to fit in 15–30 minutes on the treadmill. Or go for a walk around your office building and get some vitamin D if the weather permits. This helps boost energy levels and makes you more productive during the second half of your day.
WALK AROUND DURING YOUR PHONE CALLS
Between conference calls and speaking with clients, it’s not uncommon to spend a large portion of your day on the phone. However, if you don’t need access to a computer while you chat, stand up whenever you’re talking on the phone. You can walk around the office or pace close to your desk.
TAKE YOUR MEETING OUTDOORS
If you have a small meeting with a couple coworkers, suggest you head outdoors for the discussion. Spending time in nature and walking while you talk can lighten the mood and make your meeting more enjoyable.
SEND FEWER EMAILS
Some conversations could just as easily be had in person instead of loading up someone’s inbox. Whenever possible, get up for quick questions and walk to your colleague’s desk. Besides upping your step count, it can also be a good way to connect with the people you work with, which has been shown to improve health.
TAKE 500 STEPS BEFORE EVERY MEETING
When you schedule meetings on your calendar, add 2–3 minutes before they start for a quick walk. Aim to take at least 500 steps before you head into the conference room. This helps work out any stiffness in your body before you prepare for more sitting around.
GET COFFEE OR LUNCH ON FOOT
Instead of taking a car or local transit, take a walk to grab a coffee or your lunch. The extra exercise makes you feel better and can aid with digestion.