I’m relatively lucky. My job keeps me active and on my feet most of the day, without being too physically exhausting. Some days, however, I have to substitute for another position, leaving me seated in the same spot for 12 hours. It’s after days like this that I really feel rundown. I’ve tried a few things, like bouncing my legs, which earns me paper wads in the back from the doctors sitting behind me. “Stop tapping!”

So I spent a while browsing the Net and came up with some of the more popular ideas for keeping active during your shift. Some may work for you, some may not. It’s always good to break up your day with some easy activity. It’s good for your body. You get a burst of energy and you may even find yourself being a little more creative, thanks to the increased blood flow and your body perking up. Here are some of my favorites, of the many I ran across.

1. Take the stairs

This is a pretty easy one, especially if you don’t work in a high rise. Our building is only 5 floors, so whenever I get the chance to visit another department, I try and walk it. Using the stair stepper at the gym was one of the better cardio workouts I did, and my legs always felt good and sore the next day.
Does it help?

Actually, science says yes on this one. Walking up stairs requires almost 9 times the energy of laying on the couch (I know, great comparison right?). Even walking down the stairs requires more activity than taking the elevator; and depending on how many flights you have to navigate, is usually quicker than waiting for a busy elevator.

2. Walking Meetings

I actually liked this idea a lot. It would take a lot of convincing at my workplace though. People that are on their feet a lot tend to relish the chance to sit down for an hour or so during staff meetings. But what if you spent that extra hour a week making laps in the park? It’s refreshing to be outdoors and you might get a creative burst from being outside your normal environment.  Several of my work friends like to get out and walk during their lunch. I have to commend them. Standing all day is no fun, and having the motivation to get out and stretch your legs instead of vegging in the break room takes a lot of willpower.

3. Make frequent trips, keep the glass half full

I’m combing these two because they are basically the same thing. Get up, move around. Instead of faxing or e-mailing someone, walk out and see them in their office. This has the added benefit of more face time with your coworkers and bosses, visibility that could make you stand out in the crowd. The idea of keeping the glass full is two-fold as well. We all know that we need to drink more water. Staying well hydrated is good for the kidneys, digestion, and other body systems. One writer recommended marking a line on your glass, midway down. Your goal is to keep sipping, while making sure your glass is never less than half full. Any added psychological benefit is purely coincidental.

4. Flex those abs

I actually used to catch myself doing this without really thinking about it. This is the premise of those balance balls as well. Sitting on those nifty things, while you risk looking a bit silly, actually keeps your core muscle groups active throughout the day. I can just see the look on my director’s face if I asked her to use one of these, but that doesn’t stop me from doing flexing exercises now and again. The downside of this one is that people may think you are attempting to conceal flatulent behavior, so maybe a heads up to what you’re doing might be in order, unless you just like to keep an air of…mystery…about you.

5. Stretching!

Stretch, stretch, stretch. Every day. This is really a must, at work or at home. As you age, your muscles lose their elasticity which can lead to the hunched over effect those cute older folks have. If you stretch regularly, you are not only increasing blood flow to your muscles and staying limber, you are also ensuring that as you age, your body will maintain more of its flexibility. Pick a few stretches that work the major muscle groups in the body. Back, shoulders, thighs – give these a good stretch several times a day and, after a few weeks, you will be amazed at how limber you feel.

These are just a few of the many ideas that people shared about staying active at work. We’d like to hear what you do. Small steps toward an active lifestyle are the building blocks of good health. If we can form good habits, it will help us be more successful with harder goals down the road.
And if anyone was wondering, I wrote this sitting in a La-Z-Boy … But I got up and walked outside twice!