The average adult of working age in the UK sits for around 9.5 hours every day, much of this is time spent sitting at work, the rest is usually in leisure time and commuting. We are all guilty of moving less and sitting more over the course of a working week.
Many scientific studies which show the dangers of sitting for too long, and it makes for rather frightening reading. So what steps (pun intended) can you take to get up and move about at work, without making any really dramatic or flamboyant changes? (I’m looking at you, treadmill desk users).
1. Visit a colleague in person, instead of emailing.
We are all in the habit of firing off a quick email or instant message, even to a colleague a couple of desks away. Try to break this habit by getting up and visiting their desk… in person (gasp)!
It may surprise you that this can be a much quicker and far more creative way of discussing issues, ideas and problems and is a great way to build a team that works well together.
2. Stand when making or taking phone calls
An old salesman’s trick, (but a good one) is to stand when making
phone calls – this works especially well for sales pitches or difficult calls - as not only does standing help you project your voice to sound more confident, it helps you wrap calls up sooner, so your productivity increases too.
Making calls while standing at your desk or walking around is a really useful way to get off your seat and get in some extra steps.This works in your leisure time too, so make sure you have a little wander around the house or garden while you call your mum for a chat at the weekend.
3. Take regular micro-breaks by offering to make the tea
A few minutes moving every hour is all it takes to start undoing the negative effects of sitting. But it can feel a bit like you’re skiving off if you’re not walking around with a purpose.
So, to benefit your health and become everyone’s favourite colleague, simply offer to make the tea and coffee more often! Not only will you get in everyone’s good books for being the provider of delicious hot beverages, you will in turn be standing up and moving around the office, so you’ll be in your doctor’s good books too.
4. Walk during lunch breaks
If you’re in the habit of eating al desko or using your lunch hour to do a spot of online shopping, try to change this. Walk to a café, visit the actual real-life shops (especially small, local businesses – they would love your support) or just take a walk around the block.
Obviously if it’s pouring with rain or howling a gale outside, then you might not fancy it, but try to remember there’s no bad weather, only the wrong clothes! Prepare for it, make it a habit and a lunchtime walk every day will help lift your mood and improve your physical wellbeing.
A great way to encourage this is to set a daily walking target - 10k steps is recommended - or challenge yourself or others, using something like a Fitbit or even the pedometer in the health app on your phone for additional motivation. Get a spreadsheet going if you have to and mark your progress!
Being outside in the fresh air for half an hour or more will increase your energy levels, boost your creativity and put you in a better mood for the afternoon. It’s a great way to relieve stress and catch up with colleagues or friends you may not have time to chat with that morning.
5. Invest in a standing desk or adjustable work station
Ok, so this may be a little more on the flamboyant side, but if you can convince the boss to install more than one, then you could start a health revolution in your office! Yes, a standing desk is an expense, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. There is a good range of cost-effective standing desks and adjustable desks out there, and think of all the great PR around your active office and forward-thinking approach to employee wellbeing!
There is plenty of evidence supporting the notion that better employee health means fewer days spent off sick, (which costs a company money) and standing is thought to improve concentration and productivity in the workforce, so you could sell it to the boss on that basis. Feel free to send them a link to our article '10 ways to help improve your workforce’s health and productivity', if you want to take the sledgehammer rather than the subtle approach.
Adjustable desks are a fantastic way of introducing sit to stand working without being too flamboyant. You can introduce longer standing times gradually, and you don’t have to commit to standing 100% of your working day.
Standing at work will mean you’re not sitting all day (obviously), and evidence shows that this is beneficial to your health in so many ways. To find out more, please refer to other articles in this blog such as
10 health risks related to sitting, ‘key health issues related to sitting’ and ‘Benefits of Sit-To-Stand’.
If you’re installing or using standing desks, we recommend that you choose AFS-TEX Active Anti Fatigue Mats.
Specifically designed to be used with standing desks to improve comfort, encourage ‘micro-movement’ for further fatigue relief an Active Anti Fatigue Mat will ensure you can get the very best from standing at work.
Visit the AFS-TEX shop now to view the full range and buy office anti-fatigue mats online to start your own Active Office.