Bust a Move. Even if it’s a Small One!

We’ve all read an article, seen a news clip or heard a podcast about the negative health impacts of sitting for large amounts of time (read as: the majority of your day). Whether it’s because you have a long commute and then sit behind a desk or your job has you sitting a lot and then you find yourself sitting behind a screen when you get home, it all adds up to just a lot of sitting. You are not alone. Even I spend more time than I would like sitting behind a laptop, however I do try to break up that time with some movement.

There is tons of research studying the effects of what getting up and moving about has on your energy levels and your work productivity. All of them say that getting up and moving about, be it a walk at lunch or just a quick 5 minute break to walk around your building or doing some jumping jacks in your office or living room (if you’re at home like me), have huge impacts on your energy levels and your productivity levels. Now, I could include all the details of many studies, but I won’t, however I will add a few links at the end if you want to geek out like I do on that kind of stuff.

So what can we do about all this sitting that seems to accumulate in our day? Move.

Of course having a time set up for an exercise session most days of the week can help lessen the negative effects sitting for long periods of time has on our health, but it doesn’t totally wipe the slate clean, we are still sitting for far too many hours. Also those long stretches of time, especially during our work day don’t help with our productivity. Whether your self-employed like I am, or you have a job somewhere else, we all have a pretty big To-Do list and there are days when it seems like the end of the list is nowhere near in sight.

So how can we boost our health and our productivity? Add in mini bursts of movement. 1 minute here, 5 minutes there. Take a walk during some of your lunch breaks. We all have heard these before, we probably even know them, but haven’t committed intermittent movement to being a habit in our work day. Maybe because we don’t know what to do or in the moment we can’t think of what to do. That’s why I decided to write this, to give you some ideas, but also provide a template if you need one or just do better being told what to do and when—the No Brainer approach.

Before I present a list of movement ideas, we should talk about how to ensure you get up and move several times a day. Ideally getting up for about 5 minutes every hour is what’s recommended, but even if it’s 1 or 2 minutes that’s ok too. You’re still moving and that’s the important part.

And to ensure that you do get up and move about there are several ways you can plan it:

  1. Set an alarm on your calendar to go off at 5 minutes to the hour every hour of your work day.
  2. Download an app to your computer and set it up to chime at intermittent times. Here are some to consider.

(If this seems like you may be tempted to hit close or snooze on your desktop/laptop try the next option instead).

  1. Download an app to your phone or another mobile device. (Bonus insurance: put your mobile device across the room so when the alarm goes off you have to get up and walk to it to turn it off and now you’re most of the way there to taking a quick mini-burst of movement).

App options include: 

And there are a ton more.

However you decide is best for you to get up and step away from the screen, next use those few minutes to move about. For me, since I work from home, I put away the laundry, or foam roll, take the dog for a walk or if I have to go get vitamins or mail a letter, I walk up the street to the mail box or the pharmacy. For those of you who may not work from home, you could go deliver your message to a co-worker instead of calling them, walking around your floor or take the stairs up/down a few flights or if you have an office of your own you can do some of the movement ideas provided below.

(Maybe if you’re using a calendar reminder, you can tell yourself in the reminder what movement you will do, again taking it to the No Brainer level-setting yourself up to win.)

Movement Ideas

Sample Day

(let’s base this on a 9-5 day and you have an office/personal workspace)

9:55am 30 second Wall Squat

10:55pm 20 jumping jacks

12-1pm lunch, go for a quick walk around the block or up and down a few flights of stairs before eating.

1:55pm 10 wall push-ups

2:55pm 30 second plank

3:55pm 20 chair squats

4:55pm 30 seconds jog in place & pack up for the day.

If you are in a collaborative space you have 3 options, get everyone to do it with you (could be good overall for everyone’s productivity at work), do this by yourself, or you could do something like the suggestion below if being the only one doing it makes you feel a little uncomfortable.

9:55am walk the long way to the bathroom and back

10:55am walk to another department on another floor possible to tell a co-worker some important info.

12-1pm lunch, go for a quick walk around the block or up and down a few flights of stairs before eating.

1:55pm walk the long way to the bathroom again

2:55pm walk to the water fountain to refill your water bottle (even if it’s mostly full, but hopefully you are drinking a good amount of water during the day, but that’s another topic)

3:55pm take a walk up/down a few flights of stairs

4:55pm walk to the bathroom or do an end of the workday dance.

Now stop reading and get moving!! Be Well, Theresa

Articles for additional supplementation: