How To Turn Your Office Into The Most Active Part Of Your Day

I bet you are sitting right now reading this? If I am correct, continue to read but get up and walk around the office or house. You sit for the majority of the day and need to add more movement in your day. Why? Simple. Sitting is killing you.

After attending NEOCON 2017 conference last week, I learned 2 simple ways to turn your office into the most active part of your day: add more NEAT and design an activity based office.

Cutting to the chase: we sit way too much. Think about your daily routine. It probably goes something like this – sit in the car or train to get to work-> sit in a chair at work for 8 hours -> get back in the car or train to commute home -> sit on the couch or bed to watch tv/netflix -> repeat 5 days a week. Our bums must be exhausted from all that sitting.

A contributing factor to the sedentary epidemic is where we spend most of our time: the office. Many researchers date the beginning of the sitting disease to when the cubicle first arrived. The purpose of the cubicle was to increase employee productivity by reducing distractions and the need to move. The addition of the cubicle to the workplace has come at a heavy price: our health.

Last week, I attended a seminar given by Dr. James Levine, a leading expert in weight loss, nutrition and obesity, on the importance of incorporating small bursts of activity throughout the day at the office. Dr. Levine shared that researchers can identify 34 chronic diseases and conditions which are tied to sitting all day. For me, the biggest shocker is an increased risk of breast cancer.

Our schedules are not becoming less hectic and it can be a struggle to find time to exercise or get to the gym. Here are two simple and easy to implement solutions to fighting the negative side effects of sitting all day:

Solution #1: Increase Your NEAT

The most recommended solution to our sitting problem: hit the gym. However, a vigorous 1 hour workout 3-4 times a week is not enough to counteract sitting all day. A proven solution: increase your NEAT. Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, known as NEAT™, focuses on the daily calories a person burns while doing normal, non-exercise activity. Examples of NEAT are walking to meetings, pacing while on the phone and cleaning the house.

Dr. Levine and the Mayo Clinic Active Life Research Team have spent 10 years conducting research on nutrition, physical activity and behavior related to weight management. Their research found that a contributing factor of our obesity epidemic is the decrease in energy expenditure through lack of movement in our daily life. As illustrated in the image below, increasing the NEAT throughout our day can result in a dramatic improvement in overall health.

To get you started, these products are NEAT Certified by the Mayo Clinic for active sitting: FluidStance (a balance board), Corechair (an active sitting office chair), Cubii (an under desk elliptical), standing stole thingy.

Solution #2: Activity Based Office Design

Look around your office. Does it need a new coat of paint? Walk over to your facility manager or human resource and suggest a makeover which will encourage more activity in the office. When planning the new layout, design your new workstation and office like your work from home routine. Think about it, when you work from home, you don’t sit for hours on end: you work at your desk, walk to the kitchen for a coffee refill, lounge on the couch to answer emails and maybe move to the local coffee in the afternoon for some creative thinking. You’re actually moving quite a lot. When designing your office, create spaces and a layout that encourages this type of movement.

There is no one-size fits all template for the perfect office design. Instead, provide flexible and adjustable solutions which change your posture and disperse throughout the office. For example, a section of high top tables for group meetings where employees can sit or stand or a secluded area in the corner to do deep thinking.

Alright so your HR turned down the redesign office suggestion. Not a problem. There are other ways to encourage movement in the workplace:

Build it they will come

NEOCON 2017 was flooded with the most stylish standing desks, ergonomic chairs and under desk ellipticals money can buy. But when you have many employees, purchasing these solutions for everyone can be costly.

Top Down Approach

Like all good practices, it starts with management. If upper management is seen moving around the office and not chained to the desk, others will follow.

Just because we spend most of our time at the office does not mean you have an excuse for not moving. It might seem obvious but incorporating more movement into your daily life is the best way to fight the negative side effects of sitting all day.