Walking while you work?

We all know that being sedentary is bad for our health. Being more physically active allows us to improve our cardiovascular health, maintain a healthy body weight and decrease our risk of suffering from various diseases. So, why are so few Canadians physically active? Most will tell you they simply do not have enough time.

We all know that being sedentary is bad for our health. Being more physically active allows us to improve our cardiovascular health, maintain a healthy body weight and decrease our risk of suffering from various diseases. So, why are so few Canadians physically active? Most will tell you they simply do not have enough time. That between the demands of family and work, they have very little time left for themselves. However, experts insist there is no need to run a marathon three times a week! Thirty minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week is sufficient to improve our health.

Knowing that many American spend their work days sitting in front of a computer, researchers from the Mayo Clinic, in the United States, created a work station where work can be done standing up. It is in fact a treadmill equipped with a computer and a few accessories necessary for work. The person can therefore walk and work at the same time. No more excuses!

Researchers recruited 15 obese and sedentary volunteers. They worked a few hours each day on the treadmill, and were allowed to choose the speed at which they walked, anywhere between 1.5 to 5 km per hour (1 to 3 miles per hour). Researchers then evaluated their energy expenditure in different situations: while at rest; while working at the computer; and while working on the treadmill.

Evidently, energy expenditure was much greater while volunteers walked on the treadmill. The more they walked rapidly, the more they burned calories. In theory, even at the slowest speed, the volunteers burned enough calories to lose approximately 20 kg (44.09 lbs) in one year, without making any other changes to their lifestyle. The length of the study and small number of volunteers did not allow researchers to draw conclusions in the long term, but one thing is certain, increasing physical activity can be beneficial to our health.

You do not have a treadmill at the office? No worries! You can still increase your level of physical activity by integrating a few activities that are easy to do and do not require any equipment. Of course you know the classics: park the car further away to increase walking distance; take the stairs instead of the elevator. Here are a few other suggestions. You are getting up to get a coffee? Take the longest route to the coffee machine. You have been working for more than an hour, take five minutes to stretch. Not only is it a great way to decrease muscle tension, it also burns calories! You are talking on the telephone? Stand up, walk around and stretch while you talk. You need to have a discussion with your colleagues? Do not book the conference room! Take a walk together instead.

In conclusion, it is not difficult to integrate physical activity in our work day. We just need to stop talking and start doing!

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