Taking office work to heart – part 1: increasing activity

A healthy start for a healthy heart in the office.

February is recognized as American Heart Month. The economic cost of heart disease and stroke in 2011 was $320 billion. This is the nation’s single most costly diagnostic group of illnesses. One factor that contributes to an increased risk in heart disease is lack of physical activity. It is recommended that adults participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days each week. If that is not feasible, 10 minute increments are also effective.

 If you have an office job where you sit most of the day, getting the recommended amount of activity can be a challenge. Sitting for long periods of time with little activity is not good for your health. Research shows that long periods of sitting increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. There are options to incorporate physical activity into your day at the office.

Take advantage of wellness programs that your company may have available for employees. This may include walking clubs, a fitness center or optional time that staff can use for their own physical activity. Every wellness program is unique, but can build confidence, offer support and create a closer working environment.

How do you commute to work? Can you walk or ride your bike? If you take public transportation, you can get off a few stops before yours and walk the rest of the way to work. If you drive, think about parking at the far end of the parking lot and walking.

If you have a pedometer or a device to track your daily steps, walk whenever you can. Instead of sending emails walk to the co-worker’s desk to take care of needs. Take the stairs when possible or when you have a few extra minutes. This will help to get your blood pumping. Set up a friendly competition with a co-worker to see who can meet their daily step goals first.

Bring a firm fitness ball into your office and trade out your office chair for the ball. Michigan State University Extension advises to only consider this only if you are able to safely balance on it. This will increase the strength of your core muscles and balance. The ball can also be used for other exercises during the day.

Consider a meeting on the go. When it is rational; meet, walk and talk with a partner instead of sitting in a room. Conduct a brainstorming session while walking around the inside of the building if the weather is not cooperative or outside the building if the weather permits.

Put your thoughts together to find some other ways while you are working to increase physical activity into your daily routine. Remember, it only takes 10 minutes of your time three times per day to accomplish the recommended 30 minutes each day.

For more information on healthy behaviors and lifestyles, read Taking office work to heart – Part 2: movement and strength.  Wishing you a healthy start to a healthy heart!

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