Workplace Health: Adding Movement To Your Workday

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Studies have shown that the more time you spend sitting down, the greater your risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease, becoming obese, and even experiencing a premature death. Sitting can slow your metabolism down, too. None of that sounds appealing, does it?Think about how much time do you spend sitting down a day, in your car, on the train, at your desk, and in front of the TV. Even though work may require you to stay chained to your desk, you can learn to be creative with overcoming the potential health risks of being sedentary. Even activity trackers, such as Fitbits, have mechanisms to remind you to move once every hour. With an overall goal of 10,000 steps a day, 250 steps an hour is a good place to start. But in the long run, you'll need to aim for over 600 steps per hour to hit your goal with eight hours of sleep built into your day.In the workplace, there are a few popular trends for keeping employees active and healthy. The first is a moving meeting, during which groups of employees take a stroll and chat along the way instead of sitting at a conference table. With everyone's heart beating a bit faster, you'll ensure everyone is awake and paying attention. The best time to schedule these meetings is after lunch to help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and boost metabolism.Corporate wellness is now an attractive employee benefit. Big companies may offer lunchtime fitness classes on site or a discount to a local gym. Alternatively, you can bring the gym to your desk. Try sitting on a yoga ball instead of on a chair to improve your posture and strengthen your core muscles. You can ask for a standing or treadmill desk, too. Dean Karnazes, the Ultra Marathon Man, doesn't have any chairs in his office. He just has a desk and fitness equipment.While you're sitting at your desk, there are a few movements you can do. Similar to exercising on an airplane, you can lift your legs one at a time, rotate your ankles, flex your feet, and stretch your arms above your head. You can also stretch your lower back and hips by placing one ankle on the opposite knee and gently leaning forward.The main thing to remember is that sitting still is bad for your health. The more you're able to move throughout the day, the stronger and more supple your body will be. It's never too late to start being more active. Begin with a realistic goal, such as increasing the number of steps you take a day by 1,000 every two weeks, and see where the road takes you. Take this quiz to get a healthy start down the road toward adding movement to your workday.