The last years there´s quite some noise on the “dangers” of having a sedentary job without much movement for the entire day. Apparently sitting down for hours a day has really negative impacts on our health even if we go to the gym every day. In extreme cases, sitting is called the smoking of our generation. Auch! So yeah, you thought you did a good job by busting your ass of in the gym a few times a week and squeezing in some runs but apparently that office chair will defeat it all. Add to the mix that after being a mom that gym + running a few times a week might have changed into a few times per decade and I am basically screwed.
So I decided to make some small, easy habit changes in order to make my day a little less sedentary. And yes, a little to start with, it´s well known that very big changes are much harder to implement and we stop doing them again quite soon after starting so small habit changes do the trick here.
Make your commute to work more mobile
I have quite a long commute to work so this only adds sitting hours in the train and metro to my already very sedentary work days. So I thought about ways to make my commute a little more active: instead of taking a taxi or the bus to the train station, I now take the bike (so that´s 20min there and 20min back every time I go to Madrid already in the pocket, win! And it also saves some money, double win!), in the metro to the office after arriving to Madrid I make a point of not taking a seat but just stand during the metro ride. So think about little ways to make your commute more active: can you take a bike or walk instead of taking a car or bus? Or if you need to take the car, why not change from trying to park as close to the entrance as possible to parking as far away from the entrance as possible? That way you already gain a little walk when you arrive and before you leave.
Put an alarm every hour to walk around for a few min
Put an alarm in your calendar or on your phone every hour or every two hours to remind you to stand up and take a little walk. This can just be to the water machine to refill your bottle (which counts as a double benefit if you also empty the bottle often!) or to your office buddy to have a quick chat. I tend to use my Fitbit´s vibrating alarm for this to not disturb the people around me all the time. It´s the small habits that will make a difference!
Spend part of the day working standing up
When I worked in Denmark I had a desk that you could move up and down. I always thought it was a bit weird but a lot of my Danish colleagues would move the desk up after lunch and work standing up to avoid an after-lunch dip. Now I would love to have such a desk! (and I guess in Spain with the hour-long lunches often with wine it wouldn´t be a bad idea to avoid after-lunch dips!) But, we don´t need fancy tools to be able to work part of the day standing up. You can use the high tables in the cafeteria for an hour or I also used the locker wardrobes a lot to work on. At home we reshuffled some shelves and voila, I have my “standing desk” for the days that I work from home. (Tip: if you want to force yourself to actually use that shelf as well, make sure that your laptop charger is worked into that wardrobe and for charging your laptop you need to put it on the shelf)
Take the stairs
It´s amazing if you think about how many elevators or electric stairs we use every day, if we could replace all of these by just taking the stairs that would make a huge difference! Of course it depends which floor you´re on but just make a rule for yourself that until the 3rd or 4th floor you take the stairs (my former manager took this to a whole different level and always took the stairs, I can tell you I arrived to some meetings completely out of breath if that meeting was on the 11th floor!)
Book the meeting room that is furthest away from your desk
The parking lot trick also works pretty good with meeting rooms: instead of booking the one that is closest to your desk, try to book the one that is furthest away . (Just don´t try to take it too extreme, my office consists of 12 different building spread over a sort of campus, I know some colleagues would not really appreciate all the movement if I only booked meetings on the other side of the complex)
Ensure movement when you have a call
This one only works for calls where you don´t need your laptop for or you need to present something and you need your notes, but for the quick call to get some info or to provide an update why not make a rule that you walk around a bit when you have these? (Here again, be kind with your colleagues, we had a guy on our floor who took this very literal and he would just walk in circles around the floor in an hour-long call while talking VERY loud….)
These very small things can have a big impact to make your day a little less sedentary, if you want to learn more about this topic, check out this book, Sustaining Executive Performance: How the New Self-Management Drives Innovation, Leadership, and a More Resilient World, I followed a few sessions from this guy during a week long training and it´s super interesting!
What other tips do you have to move a bit more?
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