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I have an office job where if I don’t remind myself to get up, I don’t get up from my chair all day. This is hard to get used to because I transferred from a site that was large and required a lot of walking to meetings or even a cafeteria. Now I’m in a smaller environment where people I work with are a few feet away, most meetings are virtual, and the cafeteria (where the good coffee is) is across campus, so it requires too much time to get up and go there. So many days pass where I don’t even realize that the whole work day has gone by, and I have only gotten up once! Bad news.

The reason why I became so conscious of my lack of movement in the office is because my company provides employees with pedometers as incentive to stay healthy. The pedometers are associated with our accounts, and based on a point system, once we get to a certain level of step activity, we get cash deposited into our health spending accounts. So, I’ve been wearing my pedometer since January desperately trying to reach this level  (and I’m almost there!), so that I can rid myself of the pedometer before summer and dress season (I’ve tried to get creative, but let’s face it there’s no where to put a pedometer when you’re wearing a dress…).

I noticed that it’s been rare that I would get more than 2000 steps in a typical work day. I get about 1000 getting ready and walking into work in the morning, and then 500-1000 total during the work day. Then I would get home, and find out that AK already had 5-6000 on his! This boggled my mind. I asked him if he was cheating or if he was secretly running marathons during the day instead of doing desk work. His response? I just keep getting up to refill my water. That surprised me, could such a simple task really add that much activity to a work day? I tried it myself, and the answer is yes! Thank you AK! This absurdly simple concept is so smart and the obvious solution to my little office conundrum.

Now I have a refillable water cup at my desk at all times. When I notice that it is empty it means it is time to take a break, walk to the water fountain, and refill it. Break, walk, hydration. 3 in 1! In addition to these breaks, I also have a ton more in between for bathroom breaks. It is such a simple concept, but I don’t think people realize what a big difference it can make.

My results have been the following:

  1. I’m more active! My steps on my pedometer have doubled, and sometimes more depending on how quickly I drink the water. They say you need a minimum of 7000 steps a day to lead a healthy life, and there are days that I get 5000 before leaving work and going to the gym!
  2. I am more awake because I am hydrated and taking breaks to move around.  I used to get so dazed by staring at my computer for so long (Excel headaches) and it would just make me exhausted.
  3. I am more hydrated and therefore can workout longer once I get to the gym after work.

Depending on your job you might have time to go for walks at lunch or have the time to trek across campus to the cafeteria on the other side. But if your days are hectic and you spend a lot of time on the phone or in spreadsheets, this is such a simple solution. At the very least, mother nature forces you out of your chair, and reminds you to take a break. It has made such a big difference in my work day, and overall well-being that I had to share this!

(unmarked photo sources: 1 2 3)

Do you get enough water or activity during the work week? Do you have any other tips on staying sane and getting through a sedentary job?