No matter how much you exercise, sitting for hours a day can actually shave years off your life, according to a study by the American Cancer Society. If you work in an office, just think about all the time you spend sitting at your desk and in meetings. Plus, when you’re working 40 or more hours a week, it can be hard to find time for the gym.
Sitting for long periods of time is not easy on the body. Your back becomes strained, your muscles slack, and the process that metabolizes calories is slowed, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Well, what if you could combine working … and working out?
These days, some companies have more than just on-site gyms to encourage their employees to stay in shape. The New York Times highlighted some ways busy execs are moving while they work.
A trend gaining popularity is the “walking meeting.” At the offices of Salo, a financial staffing firm in Minneapolis, treadmill desks in the conference room are equipped with height-adjustable working surfaces placed above the treadmill track, and the treadmills face each other so the employees can exercise during a meeting and still get their work done. This same company has six treadmill desks with computers in another room, so that employees can use them for workout sessions, and there’s even a ping-pong table for employees. At HealthBridge, a clinic in Great Neck, New York, employees can be seen doing biceps curls using water bottles, or tricep dips off a counter during “10-minute recess” breaks.
Some executives are taking things a bit further by meeting with clients for workout sessions rather than a meal or drinks. Also known as “sweatworking,” spinning classes in particular are gaining popularity for such meetings, while some execs meet clients and business partners for yoga, early morning workouts in Central Park, boxing and even boot camp-type workouts. According to the report, meeting clients in this type of atmosphere breaks down a barrier and shows clients a different side to the executives. Also, it allows the busy execs to fit working out into their schedule. Businesses who conduct these types of meetings even believe it increases their clientele, because the clients feel good about themselves after working out, thus associating that particular company with that good feeling.
For those interested in working out while working, the FitDesk bike desk allows you to do just that. With a desktop that’s attached to a stationary bike, the FitDesk allows you to exercise on a bike while using a laptop computer.
“My invention came to me when I was preparing to ride my bicycle 100 miles as part of a leukemia fundraiser,” says FitDesk inventor Steve Ferrusi. “With the event date coming closer every week, I was not getting in many rides. However, I was spending lots of time on my new computer planning business ideas, reading e-mails, etc. Then I had my invention AHA! moment, and the FitDesk bike desk was born.”
Standing desks are also becoming more popular than ever. These types of desks allow workers to stand or sit on a high stool while working. According to The Wall Street Journal, employees of Facebook have reported increased energy levels after switching to standing desks, and a reduction of the “3 o’clock slump.”
Another option is to sit on a stability ball rather than an office chair. Stability balls can increase balance, strengthen core muscles and allow you to move your body more than a regular chair.
If you do sit for hours at work but the above suggestions are not possible for you, there are still simple and effective steps you can take— literally. Every hour get up, stand, stretch— make it a point to move. Don’t always park so close to your office so that you are forced to walk a longer distance. Whenever you can, take the stairs instead of an elevator, and instead of e-mailing a question to a co-worker, get up and go ask them in person. Every little bit makes a difference.