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How to spend less time sitting… and improve your health!

1 August 2023
Written by
Helayna Lowe

There’s no way around it: In technology, we work long, concentrated hours sat down at our desks. When we stand up, it’s only to sit back down again 10 seconds later after being summoned to a meeting room. If we’re remote, we might have more flexibility to get up and shake things off, but the guilt often prevents us, leaving us to stagnate in our seats. So what can we do about it?

First, the research

According to Mayo Clinic, those who sit for more than 8 hours per day with no physical activity have a risk of dying similar to the risks posed by obesity and smoking? 

It is recommended by the UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines Report that adults aged between 19 to 64 years of age should accumulate at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. 

If we combine these facts, we should come to the conclusion that it will be advantageous to our physical health if we can find more ways to be more physical during work hours. But how?

How to spend less time sitting

Here are some pointers, listed in order of least to most hassle. 

Take the stairs – every single time

Got a couple of flights of stairs to navigate on your way to work? Take them.

This is a simple way to get your heart pumping and burn extra calories. 

You can turn this into a daily ritual, and even gamify it by doing something like:

  • Week 1: Walk at 1 x speed, taking each step.
  • Week 2: Walk at 1 x speed, taking the steps 2 at a time.
  • Week 3: Walk at 1.5 speed, taking each step.
  • Week 4: Walk at 1.5 x speed, taking the steps 2 at a time.
  • Etc. 

Seeing incremental improvements and optimisations will make you feel good physically and mentally. 

The bottom line is:

Always skip the elevator.

Always skip the escalator. 

Stand up and stretch… and get moving

Set a timer to go off on the hour, every hour. 

When it does, get up, stretch and go walk somewhere for 60 seconds. 

Got back to back meetings that start and end on the hour, every hour?

Not to worry. From now on, you’ll schedule all meetings to last 55 minutes, giving you 5 minutes to do your thing before your next meeting. 

Not only will this help you to spend less time sitting, it’ll also give you more energy for your next 55-minute block. 

Become a desk workout warrior…

130.6 million.

That’s the number of views ‘desk workout’ videos have received on popular time-wasting social media platform TikTok. 

Whether remote, on site or hybrid, taking a few minutes to do a few desk-based exercises can help get the blood circulating. 

You can be as discreet or as conspicuous as you like. 

Park farther away 

Travel to work by car? Park further away. Better still, if the journey to and from work is less than an hour each way, walk it. 

You could net you an additional 500 plus calories per day before you even get to the office.

Take a walk during your lunch break 

It’s too easy to grab food then sit at your desk until lunch is over. 

Stop it. 

Your new mantra is: 

Eat your food on the move.

Not only will you up your step count, you’ll also reduce your risk of establishing a food coma at 3pm. 

Schedule a walking meeting 

Why sit when you can walk? 

Instead of sitting in a conference room, schedule a walking meeting. This can help to increase your creativity and productivity while also spend less time sitting.

Use a standing desk 

Sure, standing desks can be expensive. But standing burns more calories and improves your posture while you work, meaning you’re more likely to get to retirement with your body intact. 

Don’t let cost prohibit you if you work remotely. 

Remember, ask your employer if there is a budget for home office improvements before you remortgage your house to pay for your own. 

Use a fitness tracker 

Gamify your fitness by using a fitness tracker to monitor your activity levels throughout the day. This can help to motivate you to get moving and reach your daily goals.

By incorporating these simple tips into your workday, you can increase your physical activity levels and improve your overall health and well-being. Remember, even small changes can make a big difference in your physical health and fitness. 

To find out more about managing your mental health, read our guide here.

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