Many of us clock in upwards of 40 hours of work each week. That’s a significant amount of time, especially if you spend most of it sitting at conference tables, at lunch tables, or at your desk, hunched over the keyboard with furrowed brows and stiff shoulders. And you’re probably sitting in the car, train, or bus on your way to and from work—and you can’t wait get home at the end of the day so you can sit down and put your feet up!
Do your heart a favor and get moving
All of that “sitting around” can—and probably is—taking a toll on your health if you’re not getting the enough physical activity. Consider these recommendations from the American Heart Association link opens in a new window:
- To improve overall cardiovascular health, engage in…
- At least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity)
- PLUS moderate to high intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least two days a week for additional health benefits.
- To lower the risk for heart attack and stroke, engage in…
- 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity three to four times a week
Once you’ve achieved your daily exercise goal, go ahead and sit down and put your feet up! Not only will you feel invigorated, you’ll be happy to know you’ve done something really healthy for your body.
Why exercise is a must-do for heart health
Let’s take a look at the impact of physical activity on our cardiovascular system.
Like all muscles, the heart becomes stronger as a result of exercise, so it can:
- Pump more blood through the body with every beat, and
- Continue working at maximum level, if needed, with less strain1
Plus, exercise has a number of effects that benefit the heart and circulation, including:
- Improving cholesterol and fat levels
- Reducing inflammation in the arteries
- Helping weight loss programs, and
- Helping to keep blood vessels flexible and open2
Sneak in some exercise
Remember that roughly 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days per week? You will experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day.2 You can tackle at least a couple of those during the workday, right? Sure you can!
Here are some ideas to make it happen:
While you work…
Try incorporating one or two of these ideas this week.
- If all you’re going to do is talk, take that meeting outside! Check out these practical tipslink opens in a new window for walking meetings from StepJockey.
- Same goes for phone calls: if you don’t need to reference important documents, take a walk with your mobile phone. If you do need to reference important documents, stand up while talking on the telephone.
- Drop that telephone and walk down the hall to speak with someone in their office—it’s a great opportunity to get away from your desk and stretch your legs.
- Exercise at your desk. Do some tricep desk dips or balance on an exercise ball. Stash some free weights in your drawer, or so some jumping jacks while no one’s looking. Here are some more ideas from WebMD.link opens in a new window
“Think outside” of the car, train, or bus.
- Visit your gym or health club on your way to or from the office.
- If you drive, park at the far end of the parking lot and enjoy some extra steps.
- If you take public transportation, get off the train or bus a stop ahead of your destination and “hoof it” the rest of the way.
- Pass by the elevator and take the stairs. A 2010 study of sedentary workers found that using the stairs at work can help improve cardiovascular fitness, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.3
Sure, you can spend lunchtime and break times sitting at your desk, but why not change your shoes, get a change of scenery, and get your blood pumping a little?
- Go to the gym for your daily workout.
- Walk around the building a few times…and bring a friend.
- Climb up and down the stairs.
You can even take your healthy habits on the road.
- Walk around the terminal while waiting for the plane at the airport.
- Stay at hotels with fitness centers or swimming pools—and use them.
- Pack a jump rope or a resistance band in your suitcase when you travel so you can workout in your hotel room.
Want more heart-healthy ideas for the office? Don’t miss The Heart-Healthy Office: Eating Your Way to Wellness and The Heart-Healthy Office: De-Stress Your Way to Wellness.
1 American Heart Association.link opens in a new window
2 http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/specialtopic/physical-activity/exercise's-effects-on-the-heart.html.link opens in a new window
3 http://www.clevelandclinicwellness.com/mind/Workplace-Wellness/Pages/Practice-10-Healthy-Work-Habits.aspx.link opens in a new window