Articles dating back to the 90s disclose some of the difference between those who gain weight after overeating versus those who don’t. One of the big differences is how much non-exercise activity a person does. In one study, people who overate as much as the others but didn’t gain nearly as much weight felt compelled to move and fidgeted away the energy.
With all the screen time most people have at work, plus everyday texting/calling on smartphones plus home entertainment and internet browsing, it adds up to a lot of sedentary time, and workers tied to phones don’t have much leeway in movement (wireless headsets may or may not be an option depending on the workplace.) It’s not just sedentary time—it’s very sedentary. The human-machine interface, namely the mouse, takes very little energy, less than typing. Mashable’s Kathleen Wong posted an article about seven good ways to move more at work. Remembering to move is the first step, but once you think about it, you have the items on her list you can do plus lots more. Here are eight things that go beyond Mashable’s suggestions.
1) Keep a squeezable stress ball or two at your desk and squeeze one whenever you can. Squeeze hard to give your muscles some work. If you take Ms. Wong’s suggestion of walking at lunch, take two squeeze balls along with you so you can work out your hand and forearm muscles while you walk. If a squeeze ball isn’t available as company swag, it ought to be. You can find them at Amazon.
Adjustable hand grip exercisers are a bit larger, but can work your grip through a broader range of motion.
2) Every bit of activity adds up, so little things like repeatedly raising your heels as you sit can help.
3) When you’re standing, particularly when you’re on the phone, balance on one foot or the other. Balancing automatically activates large muscles in your legs and trunk to keep you steady. You don’t have to look like a flamingo with one foot high off the ground—just lifting one foot a millimeter off the floor will require balance activity. You can also rest one foot on the other (shoes permitting) or hold one foot behind the opposite ankle.
4) Adjust your mouse sensitivity on your computer so you have to move the mouse more than a few millimeters to get from one side of the screen to the other. Mouse pads may limit your range of motion, but most optical mice will work without a mouse pad.
5) When you’re on hold or it’s otherwise convenient, take your body through a tense-relax session starting at your feet and working up. Tense your left calf, then right, then both, then do the same with your thighs, belly, pectorals, arms and neck. If you’re still on hold, work your way back down to your feet.
6) You can run your body through range of motion exercises just as with the tense-relax routine described above. Start by curling your toes, then moving your ankles and work your way up, moving each joint, including your back, waist and neck as much as your situation allows. For joints that move in multiple directions, such as the waist, shoulders, wrists, neck and fingers, be sure to move them in all directions.
7) Ms. Wong mentioned standing meetings; if you have a 2- or 3-person meeting and can do without a whiteboard and other equipment for a few minutes, you can have a walking meeting.
8) If you work in a building with more than one floor, when you go to the restroom, go to the one up or down one floor (or two). You may be able to do the same for coffee, water, etc. Make the stair climbing action part of your everyday routine.
9) None of these items will do much good if you overeat by more than a few calories. This book is all about getting your appetite right so you don’t.
Do you have other techniques for keeping your body in motion at work? Share what works for you!