Get active at the office

It’s common knowledge that more physical activity provides greater health benefits. But for those of us who sit down at a desk all day, finding time to exercise can be challenging.

So, what can you do? Staff working in Professional Practice at Covenant Health suggest three simple exercises to increase health and wellness at work.

Stairs, walking and yoga

Three colleagues each shared a favourite activity that could be done in the office. “With three people doing three different things, we just pulled those ideas together to create those activities. We’ve chosen hallway yoga, stairs and walking,” says Kristin Christensen, Physical Therapist.

Kristin says the trio came up with the idea of incorporating short bursts of activity that could be done in an office setting. 

“You don’t need resources or any special equipment; you just need to start moving your body, and it’s as simple as making the choice of taking the stairs instead of the elevator,” says Kristin. 

Encourage people to move by hanging posters that show easy movements.

Opportunities are all around you

They’ve placed visual reminders throughout their workplace to inspire more people to incorporate movement throughout their day.

“When we’re standing by the photocopier waiting for our printed materials, we see the arm stretches and think, 'OK, we need to do that,' or the stair challenge poster hanging on the wall around the corner tracking our steps to keep us motivated,” says Marlene Varga, Pressure Injury Prevention Lead.

Marlene created a chart that helps colleagues track how many flights of stairs they’re climbing. 

“It’s brought us closer together as a team. We’ve gotten to know things about each other that we wouldn’t have known otherwise. We’re just trying to remain active as long as possible in a fun way,” says Barbara Roemer, Professional Practice Leader, who’s the third member of the group. 

It all counts

According to ParticipACTION, being active can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Kristin says the latest research recommends shorts bursts of moderate to high-intensity activity that add up to 30 minutes a day. How you achieve those 30 minutes is up to you, and it can be as easy as walking for 10 minutes during your lunch break.

“It’s good to know that this approach may nudge people who hate formal exercise to squeeze physical activity into their life. Some people get it into their minds that if they can’t get that 30 minutes of activity, they might as well not do anything at all,” says Kristin.

Other activities might include parking at the far end of the parking lot to get in a few minutes of walking, doing jumping jacks while waiting at the photocopier or setting an alarm at work to stand up and do 30 squats.

“It’s all voluntary; everybody is doing what they feel they have the capacity to do. There are no expectations,” says Barbara. 

Make time. It’s worth it.

The one piece of advice the group would offer to those thinking of making small changes to their health at work is not getting caught up in the game of, "I don’t have time."

“We all have time. You can take five minutes," says Marlene. "We can all take a few minutes out of the day to say. 'I’m going to dedicate myself to doing some sort of physical activity,' because it’s going to have huge payoffs in the end."

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