From fab to flab — that’s been the trend among U.S. workers for the past 50 years, as we move from manual labor to desk-based tasks. Between 1960 and 2011, the number of jobs “requiring moderate physical activity” decreased from five to two out of every 10, The New York Times reports.
Beyond taking the stairs instead of the elevator, here are five ways to infuse physical activity into your workday:
- Rethink your parking strategy. If you drive to work, park as far away from the office as possible and fit in a few minutes of brisk walking. Adding even a few hundred paces to your daily routine is a step in the right direction.
- Practice the art of fidgeting. People who fidget tend to gain less weight than those who don’t. According to a CBC News report, a study conducted by researchers at Queen’s University in Ontario found that 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity done in small bursts throughout the day “may result in positive health changes without requiring a large time commitment or performing fatiguing physical activity.” So, look for opportunities to pack more movement into your workday: Switch out a typical desk chair for an exercise ball. Or set your watch timer to remind you to take five-minute “exercise breaks.”
- Use resistance bands. These inexpensive workout tools provide low-impact exercise and can be easily stored in a desk drawer. Use them during breaks or whenever you have a few minutes of slack time. Resistance-band exercises are basic enough even for couch potatoes.
- Plan invigorating lunchtime workouts. Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week can reap significant health benefits. If a space within the workplace isn’t available, look for a nearby fitness studio — or just go for a brisk walk (but save the super-sweaty workout for after 5 p.m. or the weekend). If you don’t have access to a shower, try using pre-moistened wipes perfect for a quick refresh. Stow a change of clothes at work, if needed.
- Switch to a treadmill desk. Standing burns more calories than sitting, and slow walking is even better. Treadmill-desk users can burn up to 300 additional calories per day. Billy Dutton, CEO of Music.com in Los Angeles, uses a treadmill desk that allows him to walk at a moderate pace while working on the computer. Dr. James Levine, a former Mayo Clinic researcher and creator of the treadmill desk, says people who use the system could lose up to 60 pounds within a year.