Putting the "Work" in Working Out

Our modern lifestyle is taking a toll on our level of activity—but we've got a hack.

Yugi the Giraffe - 7 September 2018

Ever looked at your super fit colleague with envy in your eyes, thinking 'how do they manage to work full-time, spend time with their family and still get in an hour a day at the gym?'. We feel you.

Our modern lifestyle is taking a toll on our level of activity, and you will be happy to know you're not alone - the Mayo Clinic estimates that we spend about 70% of our time sitting!

And we all know a sedentary lifestyle is bad for us. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, it puts us at risk for high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, type-2 diabetes, certain cancers, and depression and anxiety. And when almost 1 in 4 of us aren't moving enough, something must be done about it.

The problem comes from too little exercise and too much sitting. The latter is pretty easy to solve with the trendy walking meetings, standing desks and frequent stretch breaks. But when it comes to exercise, most people find it a little more tricky.

We're so busy all the time, trying to juggle our work, family, friends and hobbies. So when are we going to fit exercise into our busy schedule? You might be surprised, but work is actually a great place to work out, and given the health benefits, your employer will thank you.

But if you need a little bit more motivation, why don't you try gamifying exercise? It's all about making working out at work into a game you can play with your colleagues; much like a drinking game, but one that won't leave you facing a toilet wishing you'd never been born.

Here are some ideas of how to make workplace workouts a little more likely - and a lot more fun.

1. Schedule certain workout times

Before we start with the more intricate gameplan, a good place to start is with the basics. Every day when you get to work, while you heat up your lunch, and right before you leave, make sure you do an easy workout routine. It can be anything between 10 push-ups to a proper 10 minute exercise routine, but just make sure you do it every day.

2. Every time you sit at your desk

From now on, every time you want to sit back at your desk, you have to do some simple stretches first. We mean, every time. Got up to get a glass of water? Stretch. Went to the loo? Stretch. Got back from a meeting? You've got it right, stretch. This is especially good if you suffer from back or neck pain (and, let's be honest, sitting at your desk all day doesn't help).

3. Every time you grab a snack

It's cake day in the office again? If you want to grab a slice, you need to do 10 sit-ups (or any other exercise of your choosing, which applies to any point on this list). It also covers any other snacks: ones that you bring from home, ones that you sneakily get from your workmates, or ones that are offered as a treat after one of your colleagues came back from holiday.

4. Every time it starts raining

This one is best if you get some of your colleagues to agree to take part with you. Every time it starts raining, you all need to do 5 jumping jacks. And given the fact that we're in the UK, that's going to be… almost every day?

5. Every time two colleagues wear the same colour

Or, if you work in a more corporate environment, you can pick another ridiculous coincidence, such as two people wearing the same tie. The principle is the same: every time two colleagues happen to wear a similar outfit, they both need to plank 3 times, 10 seconds at a time.

6. Every time you reach a goal

This tip can work in two ways, but it's very simple. Reaching a work goal could mean selling something if you're a salesperson, placing someone if you're a recruiter, finishing up a project or anything that is relevant to your job. Every time you make it, you either go on a 10-minute walk, or, if you want to make it more interesting, everyone else in your team has to. Warning: if you're really competitive, you might end up going on quite a lot of walks.

7. Don't stop there!

These were some general ideas we had, but every workplace has its own inside jokes, its own systems and its own habits. So feel free to customise your movement game to your own - or your own workplace's - needs. Your colleague keeps forgetting to leave the door open, leaving all the rest locked out? They have to do a sprint every time that happens. You have constant fights on the right to set the air-con? Every time someone turns it on or off, they have to go up and down the stairs 3 times. You rock a work foosball championship? The losing side has to jump rope 20 times. You know your workmates - do what works for you!

_Learn more about wellbeing in the workplace _

Yugi the Giraffe

Yugi is our YuLife mascot. Like all giraffes they've got a big heart – in fact the biggest heart of all land animals.