Feeling chained to your desk? How to get your steps in at work

Feeling chained to your desk? How to get your steps in at work

New fad diets and workout routines are all the rage these days.  You can’t turn on the television, open a magazine, or turn on the computer without the latest and greatest “solution” to fat loss being thrown in your face. It doesn’t take a fitness trainer or dietician, however, to understand one simple concept: the calories you burn must be more than the calories you take in or that scale is going absolutely nowhere.  So, how does someone stuck at a desk job 40 plus hours per week manage to keep a healthy lifestyle and not pack on the pounds? You must keep moving. As much as is humanly possible, just move!

Thanks to technology, we have options these days to track our steps and fitness.  Whether with a Fitbit-type gadget or simply an app on your phone (try the free app, Stepz), you can track, manage, and increase your level of activity day by day.  While these devices alone won’t shrink your waistline, awareness of your activity level (or lack thereof) will put you in the driver’s seat and allow you to shift your habits accordingly.

So you’re outfitted with a tracker, your mind is made up to live a more active lifestyle, but there’s still that one nagging issue that you can’t shake: you work inside an office, where you sit at a desk. All. Day. Long.  Beyond bolting out that door towards unemployment, what’s a sensible person to do? Start with these five simple and subtle changes to your daily routine and watch the step counter go through the roof!

  1. Stop making your commute so convenient

    You might take the train into work, you might hop on the bus, you might drive, or you over-achievers might actually walk/bike/run.  If you’re in the driving category, whether to the train station, bus stop or straight to the office, start reconsidering getting in early to get that parking spot closest to the door. Short of your legs being broken or having a serious physical handicap, you should always, always, park as far away from your end goal as is realistically possible.  Don’t park an hour away just to walk to the front door of the office… but an extra 100 feet isn’t going to kill you or your time schedule.

  2. Take the stairs

    If you work in an office building with multiple floors, try to take the stairs.  You might loathe them at first, but the stairs will become your best friend. Soon you’ll see your fitness level increase and you’ll find yourself doing less huffing and puffing.  If your office is 35 floors and you’re on the 33rd, no… I’m not recommending you climb from the lobby up to the 33rd floor, but you can certainly take the elevator to the 29th floor and walk the rest.  Taking a bathroom break?  Try walking a floor or two up or down from your office and using another bathroom. Think about how many times you take a bathroom break every day.  Every step counts!

  3. Must your “instant message” be so instant?

    Whether interoffice mail or instant messaging, take a second and consider if your communication could benefit from an in-person delivery.  Sure, sometimes we do need to fire something off to a coworker in a split second, or get an answer to a question immediately, but often there’s a story, anecdote, or document that can wait to be delivered on your next break. Take the time to walk that piece of information on over to your colleague – it will not only further establish and cultivate your relationships with your coworkers, it’ll also up your step count for the day!

  4. Volunteer

    Raise your hand and volunteer for just about anything that will get you away from your desk.  Does your boss need someone to go grab a delivery from downstairs?  Has a catered lunch arrived in the lobby and someone needs to fetch it?  Is the printer out of toner and it’s only 10 am?  Is there one too few chairs in the conference room for the afternoon floor-wide meeting?  Put on your do-gooder hat, get up out of that desk chair and earn some extra brownie points while also shrinking your waistline!

  5. Walk and talk

    How many times a day do you talk on the phone?  If you’re in a sales job, it probably feels like you’re talking on the phone indefinitely!  Regardless of your position, it’s likely you take a quick break to call a loved one, cancel a doctor’s appointment, check your personal voicemail, or even listen in on a conference call while on mute.  Maybe not all of your phone calls, but certainly some of them, can be taken out for a walk with a headset.  Even if you can’t physically get outside in the fresh air, take a lap around your work floor, pop into a conference room and walk around the long table, or if phone reception permits… jump back into that stairwell and do some real step work. Your leg muscles and your heart health will thank you!

Being stuck in the office all week can certainly be frustrating, especially when you are anxious to get your fitness level to a new, healthy place.  But, the time for excuses is over. You have options! No matter how many hours you spend in the office per week, there are always opportunities to get that heart rate up, increase your step count, and slowly watch those extra pounds melt away. Get creative, get motivated, and get moving!


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