Life Health & Wellbeing

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Week 5: Getting more movement into your workday

How To Work Well

Step it up: Forget lifts and take the stairs at work
Step it up: Forget lifts and take the stairs at work
Karl Henry

Karl Henry

To be honest, it is something I have been saying and thinking for years - if you spend your days trying to clock up 10,000 steps, you might want to pause and have a rethink. People have been following the catchy fitness goal of 10,000 steps to gauge their activity levels for a while now, but it's a tool I have been sceptical about.

In this week's column, I want to take a look at the '10,000 steps' myth and show you how you can get more movement into your workday - movement that will be of real benefit to you.

Earlier this month, BBC documentary The Truth About Getting Fit revealed that, if you're spending up to eight hours a day sitting in the office, then hitting a target of 10,000 steps doesn't really make much of a difference to your health.

Personally, I am not sold on the 10,000 steps concept. If you are very unfit and just starting out on your health journey, then yes, it will certainly help, but for the majority of us, the intensity of those steps is seriously low, really minimising the benefits they will bring.

And then there is the matter of measurement. I recently got a smart watch, which keeps track of all kinds of aspects of my health. I have been super impressed by many of its functions, but despite the €400 price tag, it still tells me I am doing steps when I'm not and standing when I'm not. I've seen similar issues with clients who have fitness trackers too - the measurements are a great idea but tend to be incorrect.

Don't get me wrong, I am all about setting goals and as part of an overall health plan, it helps, but you shouldn't rely on it and, above all, make sure you up the intensity of your movement. If you're walking faster and getting slightly out of breath, then you are putting your body under some kind of pressure to adapt, to change, to work hard and to improve.

If 10,000 steps a day is your goal in the office, I want to give you some other tips that will help to get fitter at work...

Stand

You know my opinion on standing by now. Standing more directly impacts your health - fact. Stand at your desk, stand at your meetings, stand on your commute, just stand more. It may be tough at first as your muscles are having to work harder than when sitting just to keep you upright, but they will strengthen and before you know it, you will be able to do it for longer stretches of time.

Walking or standing meetings

Why do meetings have to be taken sitting down? Why not use that time to do something that involves a bit of physical activity? Simple changes can add up and as we get into spring, the weather will start picking up and you'll be getting some sunshine in as well.

Make the stairs your friend

Stairs and health are linked too, especially if you work on the top floors. Make a choice today: no lifts and no escalators. As you get fitter, start taking two steps and walk that little bit faster. It may seem like a chore at first, but like so many things, it's all about establishing habits.

Work together as a group

We are a direct result of the groups of people we surround ourselves with. What health goals does your group aim to hit? Where do they spend their time? What bad foods do they surround themselves with? If these don't tie in with your goals then suggest meeting with your colleagues and putting a plan together that you can all work towards. It makes it so much easier when you are working as a team: you will be more likely to stay healthy, stay focused and hit your own goals. Go team!

Set goals

If 10,000 steps is your goal then just make sure those steps are a little more intensive. Aim to go above and beyond, squeezing as much as you can out of your workday.

Irish Independent

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