11 tips for staying active in your office job

Exercise can seem hard to fit into work and family life — especially if you commute to an office job, where you’re stationary at a desk pretty much all day. But as many Canadians have discovered, there are techniques for integrating healthy active living into an office job. Why is that important?

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, 60% of Canadian adults are overweight (not to mention a troubling 25% of Canadian kids!).

Regular exercise doesn’t just take off weight. It also helps to fight heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and a range of cancers. And, yes, helps to prevent premature death!

It also reduces stress, contributing to better mental health and a more positive outlook.

A fitter you feels more energized at work and with family and friends.

No wonder the Heart and Stroke Foundation calls exercise the next best thing to a “fountain of youth!”

So how much exercise is enough?

The federal government’s Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend adults get at least 2.5 hours of “moderate to vigorous physical activity each week.” That’s defined as exercise that elevates your breathing and heart rate to a point where you’re able to talk but not sing. Plus, exercise sessions can be spread across the week, with intervals as short as 10 minutes.

11 tips for becoming a fitter you:

  1. Check with your doctor first. Always a good idea, especially if you have a medical condition or haven’t exercised in some time.
  2. Get pro help. Check your workplace or private insurance plan. You may have full or partial coverage for a fitness coach, nutritionist, physio or other services. Great head start!
  3. Make it a priority. Exercise is not a “nice-to-have.” It’s a “must-do.”
  4. Ditch the car. Ride your bike or walk to work, if doable. You’ll arrive feeling more energized…promise!
  5. Get off early. If you take public transit, get off several stops before work and walk. Then gradually increase the distance.
  6. Take the stairs. Become a dedicated elevator and escalator snob.
  7. Use a fitness tracker. Wearable fitness trackers (or an app on your phone) motivate with feedback and goals. Get your daily 10,000 steps…or more.
  8. Stand up! Hours at a desk affect posture and circulation. Stand and stretch every half hour, walk to the printer and take phone calls standing.
  9. Hit the gym. If your workplace doesn’t have one, find one nearby for pre-work or lunchtime sessions. Membership usually includes a free assessment and program. Take advantage!
  10. Organize a lunchtime fitness class. Most employers are receptive to initiatives (i.e. will pay for!) that boost employee health and well-being.
  11. Make it social. Maintaining discipline is easier and more fun with others. Find a co-worker to join you for a morning or lunchtime walk. 

We’ll explore more ways to integrate exercise into the work routine in later posts. And we’ll cover the other critical factor in any fitness equation — healthy eating. Stay tuned!