Standing desks became the new craze when Dr James Levine coined the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”. Suddenly there was lots of scraping back of chairs and assembling of cardboard boxes to elevate laptops to eye-level.
While standing for 8 hours is infinitely better for you than sitting for the same period, not everyone can actually work like that. So for the sitters amongst us who need to think out-of-the-box to ensure that we exercise body and mind – without annoying our colleagues by continuously shifting from one foot to the other, or looking like you are perpetually about to fetch something from the printer, here are some easy solutions.
4 ways to exercise your body (without anyone else noticing)
- Only fill your water bottle half way and kindly refuse tea of coffee if someone offers to make it for you. That way you are forced to stretch your legs by fetching your own beverages.
- Talk to your colleagues, face to face. People like it when others show an interest in their work. Especially when the days and weeks seem to stretch into one continuous cycle. Think of a work related question, walk to another department, and have a 5-minute standing chat to someone.
- As long as you don’t have a glass desk the ‘wooden leg stretch’ is a great way to strengthen core muscles. Sit upright in your chair with your back against the chair rest and extend one leg straight out in front of you then hold it for 10 seconds. Raise it a little higher and hold for another ten seconds. Do this with each leg until you begin to get odd stares from colleagues!
- Find somewhere to pace when you’re on the phone. Don’t do it in an open plan office (if you don’t want eye daggers being thrown at you.) Find a boardroom or a balcony and pace for as long as the conversation lasts.
3 ways to exercise your mind (without getting strange looks)
- Meditate for 3 minutes by eating a piece of fruit (you can stare at your computer screen while you do this so it looks like you’re concentrating on work). Slowly take a bite, think about the colour of the fruit, the taste and what it feels like in your hand and in your mouth. Is it cool and refreshing, bitter or sweet, how does it make you feel? By the time it’s finished, you’ll have destressed and cleared your mind.
- Type a story. Not a novel obviously, but think of something interesting and write 100 words about it or look up hundreds of writing prompts online, pick one and just write. Creativity and imagination are wonderful mind boosters. If stories aren’t your thing you could always try a quick “Dear Diary” break.
- Make it a rule to never eat a meal at your desk. Stand up and eat while looking out of the office window. Just use the time to switch off.
Alternatively, walk to H.R, hand in a leave form and outsource your work while you take a break from the office to exercise your body and mind any way you please.