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More movement in everyday office life

Especially those who work in an office usually sit too much and for too long. But with a few tricks, you can get more exercise in your workday.

Reading time: 3 Minutes

Eine Frau sitzt am Schreibtisch und hält sich den schmerzenden Rücken.
According to the motto "There is no right or wrong way to sit - there is only sitting for too long!", variety should be considered in everyday office life. Photo: Adobestock

By Sonja Bergt

9.2 hours per day - that's how much time each and every German spends sitting on average. The figure is the result of the latest survey by the DKV German Health Insurance and the Sports University Cologne. This means that the average German spends more time sitting each day than sleeping, as most spend only five to seven hours on the latter in a weekday night. And secondly, they spend more time sitting than they did a few years ago: 9.2 hours is half an hour more than in the 2021 survey - back then it was 8.7 hours. Over the past seven years, sitting time has steadily increased, according to the survey. "Reducing daily sitting time through exercise significantly reduces the risk of death," Ingo Froböse, a professor at the German Sport University in Cologne, warned when the study was published. But what is the best way to incorporate exercise into an office routine dominated by sitting?

A lap around the block
A good strategy here is a triad with the following components: Exercise islands, commute, furnishings. By islands of movement, experts mean small incentives and routines of movement that you create for yourself in everyday life. For example, getting up and walking around every time you make a phone call. When talking to colleagues in the office, walk past them instead of calling. If you have the opportunity, for example in an office you have set up yourself or in a home office, you can place devices such as printers or scanners a little away from your desk so that you can make yourself stand up in between calls. For home office workers in particular, it can help to take a walk around the block before and after work. Not only does this provide exercise, but it also helps to mentally prepare or wrap up the workday. Because it takes a while before routines are established, reminder notes can help along the way. For example, a note on the phone saying "Get up" - until the new movement has become a habit.
For many employees, the commute to work is more of a nuisance than a necessity. But it is also an opportunity to get more exercise in everyday life. The classic approach is to turn the commute into a unit of exercise. This can be done by cycling or walking the route. That would be too far? Then it helps to park about a quarter of an hour's walk from your destination - with the outward and return journeys, that's half an hour of additional exercise per day. If you take the train or bus, you can get off and on one stop earlier - and maybe even stand part of the way. Once you're in the building, take the stairs instead of the elevator. And not just in the morning and at the end of the day, but also for the walk to the lunch break.

Standing desk is not the ultimate solution
The last point in the triad: the facility. The advantage here: Once you've optimized it, you'll automatically be incentivized to move around more. But before you want to swap your desk for a standing desk - replacing hours of sitting with hours of standing is not the best way. It's better to alternate between the two positions frequently - preferably combined with the movement islands. The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health also points out, "There is neither right nor wrong sitting - there is only sitting for too long!" - With the movement islands a first step is already made thereby to the change. But there are further tricks. Because sitting itself does not have to be motionless at all. Meanwhile there are office chairs, which do not invite to sinking, but without arm and back rests and with a movable basis movements both to the sides and to the front and back and a light springing permit. If you have been sitting in a classic office chair up to now, it is best to gradually get used to the new seating. This is because the muscles required for the more upright sitting posture and movement may first need to build up.
If you don't want to invest in a new office chair right away, you can also use an inflatable seat ball. Here, too, it is important to slowly get used to the new way of sitting. And there's a cheaper, if somewhat improvised, alternative to an expensive standing desk that allows you to switch between sitting and standing: a stack of books on the desk. It can be raised or lowered as needed, and a laptop can be placed on top. If the new height proves successful, a desk extension can always be purchased later.

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