Working Exercise into Your Regular Workday
Reduced stress? Check. Increased productivity? Check. Improved health? Check.
More companies are encouraging employees to be more active during their workdays because it’s ONE Thing that addresses a number of office ailments all at once. In addition to the benefits noted above, studies now show that regular exercise is also a brain booster.
A 2013 study found that exercise improved the cognitive capabilities of both young and old test subjects. Physical activity translates into brain activity by:
- Increasing creativity
- Improving concentration
- Speeding up learning time
- Sharpening memory
- Prolonging mental stamina
These cognitive benefits are seen right after short stints of moderate physical activity –which is why allowing yourself time to exercise on the job is so impactful. That means right after a midday walk you’re more mentally prepared to tackle cognitive tasks.
Another reason to encourage exercise in the workplace is it boosts mood. Happy employees are more productive and they are better team players.
We definitely advocate that companies put together a wellness initiative to help employees make regular exercise a healthy habit. But even little things throughout the day have a positive impact and should be encouraged.
20 Little Ways to Work Out During the Workday
Finding time to exercise isn’t always easy, but there are ways we can work it in while we’re on the clock. In fact, research from Leeds Metropolitan University found exercising during the workday could be better for productivity than working out at night. You don’t have to exercise for an hour straight to see the benefits. Every little thing makes a difference and has a cumulative effect.
Start by adding one or two ideas from the list below into your regular workday. Once they become a habit add another activity.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park farther away from the front door of your office.
- Do a set of 10 squats while you wait on the copy machine.
- Stand up and pace while you talk on the phone.
- Use a restroom that’s farthest from your desk.
- Walk over to the desk of a colleague for a discussion instead of sending an email.
- Do a few minutes of stretching at your desk every hour.
- Switch out your regular chair for a stability ball to strengthen your lower back and core.
- Get to work 10 minutes early and take a morning walk before clocking in.
- Hold a few yoga poses while your lunch warms up in the microwave.
- Get up and throw a paper ball back and forth with your co-worker next door for a few minutes.
- Bring a few resistant bands to work so you can do leg and arm exercises at your desk.
- Start a group power walk during lunch.
- Take a short break to play Frisbee outside with a few coworkers.
- In between your time blocks, march in place for one minute.
- While standing at your desk, do calf raises.
- Keep a gallon jug of water at your desk to do bicep curls while you read emails. Bonus: It’s easy to increase or decrease the weight as needed.
- Get a hand gripper to work out your hands and forearms while you aren’t typing.
- Bring a jump rope and jump in a quiet corridor for a few minutes.
- Any time you arrive or leave the office do a minute of step-ups on the stairs – even if you work on the first floor.
You don’t need an office gym to get a good amount of exercise throughout the day. All it takes is making a conscious effort to stay more active and make exercising a part of your job.
And if your boss has doubts about midday breaks for exercise, just provide them with a few statistics that show exercise is ONE Thing that will help you get more done in less time. There’s even research that proves exercise can help supervisors better manage their stress too!