Unless you have a full-time gig as a tour guide or a mail carrier, the odds are you’re not walking much during your workday. A pity, because a new study found that getting your move on during the workday improves both physical and mental health. Researchers at the Department of Psychology in the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis found that walking work stations – think a treadmill with a desk – help employees burn calories, focus more and feel more satisfied.
Unfortunately, that kind of setup isn’t doable for most of us, so we asked experts for suggestions on how to (realistically) fit more movement into your workday.
1. Schedule walking meetings: “It’s an easy sell to your boss, since it gets the creative juices flowing and helps you think outside of the box,” said New York City-based personal trainer Joel Harper. “Also it’s harder to argue while you walk, so you listen more and really hear what the other person is saying.”
2. Beat a path to the water cooler: And not just to catch up on the latest gossip. “Make it a point to hydrate every hour by walking to the water fountain,” said Leslie Bonci, RD and director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for Sports Medicine. “And if you drink more, you’ll need to pee more, so you will move more to get to the bathroom.”
3. Make phone time count: “Pace every time you pick up the phone, and walk around your office,” Harper said. “It gets the blood flowing and helps your naturally keep the conversation flowing and more efficient.”
4. Stop taking the elevator: Step to it – and working in a high-rise is no excuse. “Even if your office is on the 30th floor, get off and walk those 10 flights,” Bonci said. A 135-pound woman burns roughly 40 calories for every five minutes she climbs stairs. That’s more than 20,000 calories a year if you do it twice a day every Monday through Friday.
5. Be eager to help: Does one of your colleagues need a project delivered or an errand run? “Offer to do it so you’ll get out of the office and moving around,” Bonci said. The fresh air will be good for your head, too.
6. Set hard and fast, move-more rules: No elevator if there’s fewer than four flights of stairs, Bonci said. Take a break from your glowing screen every hour to lap the hallways. Leave your lunch in a cooler bag in the car so you have to walk out to the parking lot to retrieve it.
7. Turn list making into an exercise: Here’s how, according to Harper: Grab a pen and paper and put your back against a sturdy wall. Slowly walk your feet away from the wall and come into a right angle with your knees above your ankles. Keep your shoulders back against the wall and chin up. Keep your arms bent and up with your notepad and pen. Hold until you finish your list.