Studies suggest that the average American worker is sitting for around 9 to 10 hours every day. From working away at an endless mound of emails, to Netflix and chill sessions for that much needed unwind.
One of the key issues we all face is a culture of sitting. Take meetings for example: if you walk into a meeting room where everyone is seated and you insist on standing, chances are you'll get a couple of side glances.
What about desk life? If you're not seen at your desk for 90% of your working hours, the rumors will start whirring that you're not on the job. This culture of sitting has made us chronically chair bound. Your one hour jog after or before work isn't going to counteract the 9 or more hours of cushioned upholstery.
The way to combat the problem is to be as active as possible throughout the day: “The metabolism slows down 90 percent after 30 minutes of sitting” says Gavin Bradley, director of Active Working, “Just getting up for five minutes is going to get things going again. These things are so simple they’re almost stupid.”
It is rare to find someone that doesn't have that mid-day slump, usually a coffee or two can suffice but there are better alternatives. When that slump starts to creep over you, try a 15 minute walk around your building, take a phone call while you do it, or invite a teammate to join.
It's not that hard to battle this. If you remind yourself to stand as often as you can you'll burn calories, tone muscles, improve posture, increase your energy, and your cognitive abilities. Here are some easy ways to achieve it:
1) Where to Start
– Get yourself a treadmill while working at a standing desk. Admittedly not the most convenient in terms of cost, space, and noise but is pretty much ideal. Ideal, unless you are easily distracted.
– Routinely walk around your office to break up your sitting patterns. The easiest. You can even set alarm reminders on your phone or computer to help get the habit in motion.
– Go out of your way. Need the bathroom? Go to the one furthest from you. Need to ask a colleague a quick question? Walk to them, don't email. Want to brainstorm? Use a whiteboard on the wall, not a pen and paper or computer.
2) Have standing meetings
One of the major problems with corporate meetings is the length of them. Our attention spans and brain limits do not travel much further than 15 minutes. Keeping meetings to 15 minutes ensures that no other work time is wasted, you come acutely prepared, and it feels motivationally productive.
If the meeting is held standing up, the psychology is that you won't be hanging around for a long time. You'll naturally have shorter and more productive conversations and, in the meantime, you'll be ticking the boxes for keeping more active.
It can even be easier to broach difficult conversations when you aren't sat across from someone.
3) Have walking meetings and phone calls
People think more clearly when they're walking around. Subconsciously or semi-consciously intaking your surroundings can be inspiring, but also your blood flow to the brain is kicking you into gear.
Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Dorsey all took and take long walks to discuss matters of importance – it is less confrontational and more free-flowing. Aristotle would commander his students on the move. Freud was fascinated by the use of walking as a tool to improve training. Charles Dickens would walk for miles and miles a day for the inspiration, but also the de-stressing qualities.
You can literally think on your feet.
4) Walk while you email
This one is an in-office hack and probably only best for indoors (remember: cars). There are times in every entrepreneur's day when the inbox is the arch-nemesis. Hunched over your laptop, typing furiously to get through the electronic marshland is a key moment to tackle.
Pick up your phone, start strolling, and tackle those emails while you wander aimlessly through your building or room. Before long, you'll be so absorbed in your task that you won't even realize you're moving the body around. This is an easy way to build the habit: “email time? time to get on my feet.”
Note to remember:
There is some suggestion that performing certain tasks are better done whilst seated – these relate to complex multi-tasking. If you are walking while multi-tasking, you're probably incapable at the fullest of your physical abilities. So, in those circumstances, take a seat, minimize the risk of mistakes, and get it done before standing up and keeping it moving.