Imperial Health at Work


Seven ways to add short bouts of exercise to your day

Small bouts of exercise can be just as effective as longer bouts, and as many people cite lack of time as the main reason why they don’t exercise as much as they should, breaking up the recommended 150 minutes per week into smaller chunks can help you reach this goal.

1. Power walk or jog around the block

Whether you’re at home or at work, getting outside during the day exposes you to natural light and increases your endorphin levels. It’s also a nice way to take a little break and get a change of scenery. While walking around the block for ten minutes or so will certainly do you good, if you pick up the pace until your cheeks start to glow, you’ll have done ten minutes of your weekly workout.

TIP If you’re worried about going back to work looking sweaty, do a couple more laps at a slower pace to cool down before heading back.

2. Cycle to work

Cycling to work has been shown to have a positive effect on wellbeing, sleep and concentration and can even boost your immune system. By getting exercise on your daily commute, you won’t need to put aside extra time in the day to work out, and you’ll arrive feeling refreshed and energised.

3. Lunchtime yoga

If you don’t have time at lunch for a full workout session, doing ten or twenty minutes of yoga is a good way to improve balance, flexibility and strength. Make sure that you eat after your session, though, as eating before doing yoga is not recommended.

TIP If you don’t have much room at work, you could try doing yoga in a park or outside space on sunny days. 

4. Have a walking meeting

Instead of sitting down in meetings, try going for a walk. If you need to be indoors at some point during the meeting (i.e. you need to show a presentation), you could break up the meeting by suggesting a walk before or after the indoor part. Walking outside can also stimulate ideas, so you may just come up with something you hadn’t thought of before once you are in the open air.

You can also use the same concept for general phone calls. Instead of sitting down when you talk on the phone, try going for a walk instead. Pacing around inside is another option – remember that anything that gets you moving is better than sitting.

5. Stand more

Sedentary lifestyles have been linked to all manner of diseases and health issues, such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer and mental health problems. Combating this can be tricky if you work in a role where you are seated most of the time, but you can improve things by standing up wherever possible. This might mean walking over to someone’s desk to talk to them instead of calling, setting an alarm to remind yourself to stand up every hour or so, or experimenting with a standing desk.

TIP If you are sitting down all day, make sure you are sitting correctly.

6. Get off a stop early

If you regularly take the bus, you can squeeze in some exercise by getting off a stop or two early and walking the rest of the way. Drivers can adopt a similar technique by parking a short walk from their destination. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could even try running.   

7. Take the stairs

Taking the stairs is often cited as the ‘go to’ method for getting more exercise, but it really works. Stair climbing burns more calories than jogging and has been linked to decreased health risks and a stronger musculoskeletal system. The best thing about this activity is that it is relatively easy to achieve if you regularly take the lift.

TIP If there are too many flights of stairs to consider walking the whole way, take the lift for half or some of the time and walk the rest of the way.

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