Six ways to have more fun and get more exercise every day

Don’t let the relentlessness of working life stop you from being fitter, healthier, happier and more productive. It is possible to fit exercise around even hectic schedules by building it into the working day, leaving room to play, socialise and get plenty of sleep.

1. Cycle to work

The ultimate lifehack has to be exercising while commuting. As the weather improves, consider biking to work to get your heart rate up while simultaneously saving cash.

For would-be cyclists concerned about the hazards of city traffic, there are several apps that can help. Komoot is a route planning app that gives customised routes by the most appropriate road surface, with voice navigation. Beeline is a weatherproof navigational device that clips to the handlebars and literally points cyclists to their destinations with an arrow, so even the directionless can explore new routes and not get lost. Strava’s heatmaps reveal popular routes taken by other cyclists, and Google Maps has a cycle route planning option.

By signing up to the Cycle To Work Scheme, businesses – at no extra cost – can offer a valuable employee benefit in the form of tax-free bicycles and accessories worth up to £1,000. The cost of the bike is covered through a salary sacrifice, with huge savings possible and the option to spread the cost monthly. The saving to the employee can be worked out using this cost calculator but is typically between 31 per cent and 48 per cent of the retail cost, with higher-rate taxpayers saving the most.

2. Stand up

Sitting is the new smoking, say the fitness police. Researchers at the University of Chester found switching to a standing position at work for three hours per day burns 750 calories in a five-day working week, the equivalent of eight pounds of fat per year. It also improves the body’s ability to process sugars. The researchers also noticed blood glucose levels fell back to normal levels after meals more quickly on the days when the volunteers stood than when they sat.

Leading sport medicine consultant Dr Mike Loosemore claims that standing to work for three hours, Monday to Friday, is as effective as running 10 marathons a year and can extend life by two years.

Companies that hold standing meetings note their time-saving benefits - they are likely to be shorter because participants don’t feel the need to hang around. Similarly, those who stand up to work report feeling more productive than when seated.

Standing for prolonged periods takes practice and calls for comfortable footwear. Build up to it by increasing your daily standing time by one hour per week, make sure your knees aren’t locked back and be mindful of your posture. The keyboard should be at elbow height so forearms can rest on the desk, with the top of the monitor screen at eye level.

3. Ban the lift

Unless you work on the 20th floor, start seeing the lift as a luxury, rather than a necessity, and leave it for those who really need it. Running up stairs is an easy way to work up a sweat and get out of breath. Gym stair climbers burn around 500 calories per 30 minutes.

Find other clever ways to build in exercise and keep mobile. For instance, park as far as possible from the entrance to the supermarket, walk to the furthest end of every station platform, and never stand on escalators. If you find yourself stationary on a train or in a queue, try contracting your abs or glutes for a mini workout.

4. Convert dead space

Dingy meeting rooms and store cupboards aren’t just for the obvious. Can you convert a room into a private and peaceful yoga or meditation space? If space is at a premium, then think about partitioning off a quiet corner of the office. All that’s needed is room for a yoga mat and a ceiling high enough for a full extension.

5. Walk faster

Turn every stroll – be it to fetch your lunch or to catch a bus – into the chance for a power walk. Public Health England (PHE) recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, such as brisk walking or cycling, plus strength and conditioning exercises at least twice weekly. It also suggests that aiming for 10 minutes of daily moderate exercise – such as a brisk walk – is a good foundation on which to build.

The benefits of fast walking include a higher level of fitness, improvements in mood, a healthier weight and an overall 15 per cent reduction in the risk of an early death. So if the office dog needs walking, be the first to raise your hand.

6. Deskercise breaks

There are countless apps that remind you to take breaks, stand up, drink water, and rest your eyes from the screen. Some will pop up on the desktop screen, others alert via push notifications to a smartphone. These handy reminders can be useful for breaking long spells of sitting or standing still.

Also consider an under-desk cycling machine like DeskCycle to keep legs moving and sedentariness at bay, or sit on a Swiss ball rather than an office chair which engages leg and ab muscles but, again, be mindful of your posture. 

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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