Dr. Grant

Southwest Georgia Health District
(July 2014)

Work it out

If you’ve been spending Mondays through Fridays behind a desk, it’s time to include workplace fitness activities in your schedule. You may be surprised at how easily you can become more fit without having exercise interfere with work duties.

Start by adding a few steps every day. Literally! Stop parking so close to the door to your workplace. Take the long way down the hall (or up the stairs). Instead of picking up your phone, drop by a coworker’s desk for a conversation.

Stand when you can. (You burn more calories standing than sitting.) When your phone rings, stand up and pace when you answer. Work standing at a table if it is feasible. Try eating lunch standing up. Get up and stretch occasionally.

Trade your coffee break for a fitness break. Some organizations – like Southwest Health District – have wellness breaks to allow employees opportunities to exercise during the workday. If your business has such a policy, take advantage of it by enjoying a brisk walk, an exercise class, yoga, or another form of exercise.

If your company doesn’t have a fitness policy, contact your county health department. The staff will be happy to introduce the benefits of our “Hooked on Health” worksite wellness program to employers and employees alike.

Don’t take meetings sitting down! If it is practical, hold brainstorming or planning meetings while you’re walking with colleagues. You can walk outdoors if the weather permits, or do laps indoors otherwise. Some people do their best thinking on their feet.

Consider organizing a lunchtime walking club. Many groups walk in their buildings, in malls or on walking trails, and not only enjoy the time socializing but also help each other stick to a regular exercise schedule. It isn’t uncommon for clubs to challenge each other to meet fitness goals. One more thing: The quicker the pace, the greater the benefits.

Remember to sit up straight. Many of us peer into computer screens for long stretches of time. It’s easy to find ourselves hunching forward with our necks bowed. But poor posture can lead to headaches, throbbing necks and shoulder pain.

Some of us need help to maintain good posture, like chair cushions, ergonomic seating or taking breaks to stretch our muscles. There are even some people who practice “active sitting” by using exercise balls for their workplace chairs and still others who use treadmill desks. Find what’s comfortable for you.

Finally, think about what you’re putting into your body. Opt for water instead of soda. Choose healthy snacks – like veggies or nuts – over sugary treats like doughnuts. And store your snacks in the break room or kitchen instead of in your desk drawer … that way not only will you be less likely to sneak a snack, you’ll get in a couple of extra steps of exercise.

Fitness is a work in progress. Do what you can each day. Remember, even a little activity is better than none.

What are you doing in your workplace to improve your health and wellbeing? Share your fitness tips with us on our Facebook page!

Jacqueline H. Grant, MD, MPH, MPA

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