Are you sitting down at your desk or kitchen table reading this post right now? Before you read any further, get up! Stretch your legs, take a walk around the office or your front yard. You may have just preserved some of your memory. According to a recent study by researchers at UCLA, sitting too much is linked to changes in a part of the brain that is critical for memory — and not for the better. Some may think that powering through an assignment or project in one sitting is going to produce maximum productivity, but remaining sedentary at work negatively affects your productivity overall. Here are some simple tips to getting up and moving during your work days so you stay more productive.
Give me break
When you have a looming deadline, Holly Hanna, founder of The Work at Home Woman, says that giving yourself short blocks of time to work (50 minutes), alternated by short periods of rest (10 minutes) will make you more productive than working 60 minutes straight. “Working in small chunks allows you to focus all of your energy on the task at hand. It also helps you to break large tasks into smaller ones, making the assignment seem less daunting and more manageable,” says Hanna. When we work for extended periods of time, our bodies respond to it — we get tired, our eyes become strained, we get distracted more easily. It’s helpful to give your brain a little rest and relaxation — and you’ll be able to accomplish more, faster.
Walk it out
And what do you do with those 10 minute breaks? Do not sit at your desk checking Facebook. Instead, get active. Taking a walk around your office building or down the street is a simple yet effective way to get your body moving while also taking a mental break, says Laura Stack, author of Faster Together: Accelerating Your Team’s Productivity. “If it’s raining or severely cold, walk up and down a flight of stairs a few times instead. Your muscles will thank you for it,” says Stack.
You can even sneak in activity while your working. Have a conference call or a brainstorming session? Take it as you do laps in the office hallway or outside in a nearby park. Hanna suggests doing some simple yoga poses at your desk. “Doing wrist and finger stretches can help prevent carpal tunnel, while the seated pigeon pose helps to loosen the hips and lower back which tend to become tight from crossing your legs,” says Hanna. These are more discreet poses than a downward dog, so you won’t have to worry about annoying your coworkers.
Pencil it in
Even if you work at home, it’s imperative that you schedule in time for exercise. “Home-based workers tend to get in fewer steps than the average office employee because they don’t leave home, and they don’t walk to and fro,” says Hanna. The first thing a home-based worker should do is physically schedule in exercise on their calendar. “If you don’t make space in your day for fitness, other tasks will take precedence,” says Hanna. Stack suggests keeping dumbbells by your at-home desk, taking calls while walking around the neighborhood and standing up every few minutes to get a stretch in. “All these items are minor steps to quick alertness, but they can either help you to increase your physical energy through motion, or let you unwind (if only for a few minutes) from the task on which you’ve been concentrating,” says Stack.
with Hattie Burgher