Physical inactivity is the fourth biggest killer of people living in the modern world. – World Health Organization, 2010
Older adults who are sedentary may be just as likely to develop dementia as people who are genetically predisposed to the condition. – Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2017
Sedentary workers who exercised were just as high risk for health issues as those who didn’t exercise regularly. - Doug Dupont, 2013
Sedentary lifestyles affect our health and productivity in countless negative ways. One of the mantras of this century is: Sitting is the new smoking. While spending extended periods of time isn't exactly the same thing as smoking a pack of cigarettes daily, there are some serious long term effects that result from not regularly getting enough exercise:
- Premature death
- High risk of various cancers - lung cancer included
- Higher risk of diabetes
- Slowed metabolism
- Faster build up of fatty acids aka higher risk of heart disease
- Digestion problems
- Back and hip pains
- Poor posture
- Higher stress levels
- Accelerated aging process
- Lower productivity and energy
… and the list goes on.
As a financial professional, you are probably a good candidate to be impacted by the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Many of us spent 8 – 10 hours a day sitting - not including the time we spend in our cars commuting, at the dinner table or on the couch watching tv. With average sleep being at about 7.5 hours a night, we are sitting at a desk more than we are sleeping.
Small adjustments will add up big time! You don't have to sprint laps around the office and high five your bewildered your colleagues to get some physical activity. Here are a list of 10 easy things you can start TODAY to be more productive now and healthier in the long run:
1. Get a standing desk
Using a standing desk will improve posture, use more muscles, improve your blood circluation and burn more calories. It may take time to get used to standing, but once you get used to it, standing for long periods of time can alleviate some of the effects of sitting down all day and help you lose weight.
You can also use an adjustable desk that can be altered to a regular desk height when you get tired or use an elevated chair at your standing desk when you're ready for a break.
Want to take it to the next level? There are some really cool treadmill desks on the market.
2. Use a surfboard desk
Using a "surfboard" desk or standing on a balance board will increase your heart rate by 15%, engage your core, improve happiness, boost performance.
3. Sit on an exercise ball
Okay - so you really like sitting. Give active sitting a shot by sitting on an exercise ball! This will also engage your core and be a benefactor to your posture.
4. Set a timer
There are several free timer apps you can use to remind yourself to stand up and take a break throughout the day. Those breaks can consist of:
- Taking occasional walks around your office
- Going up and down the stairs
- Taking a lap around the building
- Simply standing up
Dr. Joan Verniko, former director of NASA's Life Science Division and author of Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, concluded during a double blind study that simply by standing up 35 times a day throughout the day will counteract the cardiovascular health risks associated with uninterrupted sitting.
Take it to the next level by throwing in:
- A couple push ups
- Jump squats
- Jump ropes
- Walking lunges
- Wall sits
- Calf raises
- Jumping jacks
What you do when your timer goes off doesn’t have to be anything crazy- the movement is what counts !
5. Rethink your meetings
Sitting in a meetings and conference rooms are traditionally a time to sit on your butt. Next time you have a meeting, have a standing meeting instead!
If its a beautiful day, consider going for a walk. Walking meetings are proven to have several benefits - personally and professionally. For example:
- Creative output increase by an average of 60% when they are walking
- Conversations are more relaxed and less tense when walking
- Walking meetings improve energy and engagement
Next time you want to have a meeting - give it a go. Literally.
6. Working out at lunchtime
When you're a busy person, which many of us are, it can be hard to find time to work out. Lunch time is great opportunity to do it if:
- You can take (atleast) an hour for lunch
- You have a gym less than 10 minutes away
- You can work out intensely for (atleast) 30 minutes
- Your gym gear is prepped and ready to go
Not only will you give your body a break from sitting, but you'll:
- Be more productive
- Have more energy
- Be in a better mood
- Experience less back pain
If you can’t make it to the gym, plan to spend atleast half of it walking around – either outside, around your building, or within your building.
7. Add a few extra blocks to your daily commute or park farther away
This is pretty self explanatory and will result in a couple extra minutes of daily exercise you might not have otherwise been getting.
8. Get a headset
They say you gotta walk the walk AND talk the talk.
Whenever your phone rings, get out of your chair before you pick it up and don’t sit back down until you have hung up the phone. If you have a headset or cell phone, pace your office and get some steps in until you finish your conversation.
As Michael Kitces says in a 2015 blog, "even at a comfortable stroll (which is about 2mph to 2.5mph for most people), a one-hour conference call turns into a 2+ mile walk that hardly feels like working. Two hours of calls and you’ll knock out 4-5 miles in a day (which I track on my FitBit HR). Or as much as 20 extra miles of walking in a week. Which amounts to burning almost 2,000 additional calories. Which means you can lose half a pound a week (or more as you build a little more lean muscle mass), or shed about 25 pounds in a year, just by walking around while you’re doing the telephone calls you were doing anyway!"
9. Get a steps tracker
"The better your awareness, the better your choices. As you make better choices, you will see better results." - Anonymous
"Self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion." - Billie Jean King
The American Heart Association recommends that people get 10,000 steps a day. The average man is only taking 5,340 steps daily and the average woman takes 4,793. You don’t need anything fancy to track your steps- even a simple pedometer will help! I personally use a Fitbit, but you can use any of these top activity trackers.
Turn it into a game! Have your coworker who has the least amount of steps at the end of the week buy lunch.
10. Re-organize the layout of your office
"If you're interested, you'll do what is convenient; if you're committed, you'll do whatever it takes." - John Assaraf
Often, we keep everything within arms reach - printers, filing cabinets, telephones, electricity outlets. Spread things out a bit so that you have to get up to complete tasks throughout the day.
Our clients, along with our family and friends, need us to stick around for a while. We should be doing what's in our control to make sure we're around and in good shape for as long as possible. Forgetting everyone else - we owe it to ourselves to take care of our bodies and minds. The things that are outside of our control are not worth our energy or stress, but things like how much activity we get throughout the day is something we have some power over. Use that power and don't be a desk potato!
To win a prize and be featured in next weeks blog as the The Most Active and Superfantastic Advisor of the Week, send a picture of your office exercise equipment, steps tracked on your fitbit, your team on a walk, or getting some activity during off business hours. Winner will be chosen next Wednesday.
Stay tuned for next week's blog with another business building idea, and if there's anything you're working involving marketing, annuities, or life insurance, let's set up a time to talk.