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Work smarter

When we get busy, it’s hard not to let our physical fitness slip. We see movement as a nice-to-have, rather than a necessity. Let’s change that! Most of us spend upwards of 10 hours a day being sedentary, and breaking up this inactivity is critical for a healthy, happy and productive workday.1

A woman in rolling skates working at standing desk

How can physical activity help me work better?

21 minutes is all it takes!

Getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week amounts to roughly 21 minutes per day. Break this up into two- to three-minute fit breaks throughout your day to be your best on the job and increase your job satisfaction. Taking regular movement breaks increases blood flow to your brain and muscles and results in better focus, attention2, and reduced aches and pains3.

Better yet, take it outside for additional benefits like lowered blood pressure, decreased stress, improved short-term memory and increased creativity.

Movers are shakers

People who are regularly active are consistently more productive after seven hours of work than those who aren’t.4 They have better executive function, clearer minds, more confidence, better memory, enhanced concentration, greater creativity and feel less stressed. Research shows that some of the most productive employees take, on average, a 17-minute break for every 52 minutes of work5.

If performing better, feeling better and being happier with your job isn’t enough6, consider this: a sedentary lifestyle also puts you at risk for cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, depression and musculoskeletal injury7.

man in office suit keeping his gym shoes inside a gym bag

Here’s how:

To fit physical activity into your busy workday calendar, consider the following ideas:

  • Get active on your lunch hour with a brisk walk or wheel, or a yoga or Pilates session.
  • Consider taking meetings on-the-move, walking or rolling.
  • Split up long periods of sedentary time with a movement break and invite colleagues or family members to join.
  • Take calls standing, pacing, shifting and stretching.
  • Join an after-work sports league with your colleagues to help build an active culture.
  • In lieu of client meetings over a meal or drinks, get active together to build relationships.
  • Check out the free ParticipACTION app to track your progress and for ongoing motivation, articles and exercise videos.

References

  1. OWEN ET AL. (2010). TOO MUCH SITTING: THE POPULATION-HEALTH SCIENCE OF SEDENTARY BEHAVIOR. EXERCISE AND SPORT SCIENCES REVIEW, 38(3), 105–113. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc3404815/
  2. GOODMAN, H. (2018). REGULAR EXERCISE CHANGES THE BRAIN TO IMPROVE MEMORY, THINKING SKILLS. HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL. RETRIEVED FROM https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110
  3. RYAN, T., RICE, V., SAUNDERS, J., & LIMBRICK, S. (2018). MEASURING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF WORKPLACE HEALTH MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS: AN AUSTRALIAN EXAMPLE. PREVENTIVE MEDICINE REPORTS, 11, 56–62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.04.018
  4. WATTLES & HARRIS. (2013). THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FITNESS LEVELS AND EMPLOYEE’S PERCEIVED PRODUCTIVITY, JOB SATISFACTION, AND ABSENTEEISM. JOURNAL OF EXERCISE PHSYIOLOGY, 6(1), 24-32.
  5. EVANS, L. (2014). THE EXACT AMOUNT OF TIME YOU SHOULD WORK EVERY DAY. FAST COMPANY. RETRIEVED FROM https://www.fastcompany.com/3035605/the-exact-amount-of-time-you-should-work-every-day
  6. FRIEDMAN, R. (2014). REGULAR EXERCISE IS PART OF YOUR JOB. HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW. RETRIEVED FROM https://hbr.org/2014/10/regular-exercise-is-part-of-your-job
  7. PARK, J. H., MOON, J. H., KIM, H. J., KONG, M. H., & OH, Y. H. (2020). SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE: OVERVIEW OF UPDATED EVIDENCE OF POTENTIAL HEALTH RISKS. KOREAN JOURNAL OF FAMILY MEDICINE, 41(6), 365–373. https://doi.org/10.4082/kjfm.20.0165

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