When Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, Dr. James Levine, concluded in 2012 that “sitting is the new smoking”, his words raced around the globe. Most people knew that too much sitting wasn’t good for you; but Levine claimed the Western world faces a sitting disease of a serious nature. He found extended sitting – whether behind the wheel or a desk – directly relates to increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat and abnormal cholesterol levels. This means – as this dramatic infographic shows – sitting 6+ hours a day makes a person 40% likelier to die within 15 years of someone who sits only 3… even with daily exercise. That’s not good news for the “active coach potato,” the person who does the everyday fitness regime yet is sedentary for the other 23 hours. Not only is it essential to exercise regularly, it is equally important to incorporate activity into your daily routine. Beyond preventing illness and managing disease, moving your body has other enticing benefits; your brain works better, you have more energy, and you feel more emotionally balanced. I like to say that physical activity – both as regular exercise and everyday movement – is a new productivity lever to put in your leadership toolkit. You’d think it would be a no-brainer to get moving at work, right? Yet, it isn’t always that easy. Our workplaces are often unwittingly built to keep people stationary. So it’s no surprise that one of the most frequent questions we get from leaders making the shift to a more active lifestyle is: How can I integrate movement into my work every day? Here are six simple approaches leaders, like you, have used with great success:
- Take a Stand. A recent Ipsos study found that 67% of employees surveyed were convinced they’d be more productive if given the option to work on their feet. You, too? Then, try out a new-fangled standing computer desk, or do what I do, and place your computer on a counter-height table. You’ll burn around 40% more calories standing than sitting. Not a bad ROI!
- Walk to Meet, Meet to Walk. The human body is made to move, not to sit in meetings for hours on end. Knowing this, build “walking meetings” into your management routines. And when a meeting requires sitting around a table, schedule it at the farthest conference room so that you and your team take a few strides to get there.
- Let Your Smartphone Make You Smarter. Set your smartphone to beep every hour as a reminder to get up and stretch. The latest epigenetics research shows that limbering up doesn’t just feel good to your brain and body, it alerts fatty tissue to get stored in the right places rather than in the places that do your body harm.
- Make Yourself as Important as You Make Your Boss. Schedule an exercise appointment on your calendar a few times each week, just as if you were scheduling a meeting with your boss. (You’re less likely to cancel a meeting with your boss, so don’t cancel the exercise appointment with yourself.) Better yet, ask a coworker, your administrative support or your executive coach to help you stay accountable to the appointment.
- Track, Track, Track. Thousands of fun new activity trackers are flooding the market. Wear one to step up your activity level a notch. The e-zine PCMag.com says these trackers are some of the hottest.
- Make It a Game! Remember how you and your friends used to run, skip and jump as kids just because you could? Use new socially-connected gaming technologies such as Fix-Fit, to bring a range of exercises into your workday just because.
Moving, literally, is part of your foundational leadership practice. So, get up from behind the desk and make walking, standing and being active a part of every day in your workplace. Modeling the behavior, and encouraging
your teams to embrace the six steps above, will create amazing results both in morale and productivity. That’s a win – win for all involved.