It’s official; you’re working too hard. Or at least, so suggest recent statistics claiming that, to offset the eight hours’ sedentary work we do a day, sixty minutes of moderate activity are required.
The obvious answer? Pack in the day job. But, just as few of us have the time every evening to spend an hour blitzing calories, even fewer can afford that early retirement just yet.
So are office workers doomed to ne’er reap the rewards of an active lifestyle? Of course not. Here are some sneaky strategies to escape the tyranny of your desk. With a bit of dedication you can have your cake and eat it… Erm, after your workout, that is.
Kick-start your commute
I know, I know. If you hear one more story of a superwoman rising at five to fit in three hours at the gym before work, you’ll scream. That’s why we’re starting not with the manic morning workout but with that other daily staple: your commute.
Reassessing your route to work is the easiest way to shoo in those active minutes with minimum drain on your time. Live within two miles of the office? Walk. Within six? Cycle. Even those with a lengthy commute might consider getting off the bus a stop early, or pacing the platform while you wait for your train.
Yes, I know that exercise is the last thing you’re up for first thing in the morning. But this relatively minor change could bolster your mood, health and productivity while eating up barely any of your day. So put down those car keys and do your bit for the planet as well as your body.
Are you sitting comfortably? Probably not; the way in which most of us sit at our desks is a major health problem. Those hours spent hunched over a screen, inactive, take their toll on joints, muscles and brains alike.
Want to make the most of your desk time? Get up and move at least once every hour – even if it’s just to make a coffee. Offset your slow metabolism by getting your fidget on; tapping along to music and wiggling your toes may seem like a small change, but that calorie burn sure adds up.
Want to take things further? There are exercises you can practise to strengthen as you sit. Leg raises, wall sits and stretches can all be performed at a desk or in a relatively cramped office space. And there’s no end to the equipment available that’s designed to get sedentary muscles moving, from mini-dumbells to exercise balls.
Of course, universal treadmill desks would solve all these issues in a (fast) heartbeat. A girl can dream, eh?
You don’t have to enrol at a gym to get moving in your lunch break. The sixty minutes’ activity you’re aiming for includes brisk walking, so get out the office and spend some time getting to know your area. Spend half an hour walking and the rest grabbing lunch; combine this with fifteen minutes’ walk each way on your commute and you’re smashing through your targets.
Need a little more motivation? Try setting up a workplace running or walking club. The added peer pressure should get you moving post-haste.
How much TV do you watch? Don’t lie; we’ve seen your Netflix search history. Now imagine if you spent every minute you currently do with Broadchurch on exercise instead. You’d be pretty fit, wouldn’t you?
Recent research shows that watching TV for more than three hours a day is associated with an increased risk of premature death for all but the most active. But what if, instead of reaching for the popcorn, you were go through some circuits? Press-ups, high knees, burpees and squats can all be performed in a living room while your favourite show plays in the background. You’ve no excuse.
Want to make a game of it? Come up with some rules for a series you’re watching. For example, every time someone makes a pop culture reference in 13 Reasons Why, you’ll do ten burpees. It’s like a drinking game… except you’re getting fit instead of fat.
With the social events and commitments that flood our calendars, it can be hard to find time for evening workouts. Your partner wants to cook dinner together, your best mate fancies a Game of Thrones marathon and you’ve promised your brother you’ll see him down the pub. While working up a sweat can never replace a pint down your local, you could try convincing your nearest and dearest to share a workout with you instead.
Working out with companions increases your chances of sticking to a schedule. You could even make a weekly agreement to be active together, whether it’s a spin class or just a walk – and hey presto! You’ve honoured both your social and active commitments.
It can be easy to read statistics and, despite intentions otherwise, never act on them. Don’t be one of the 78 per cent of office workers who feel trapped in a sedentary lifestyle. Get up and get moving today; your body will thank you for it.
About the author
Susanna Quirke writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs, visit their website.