So. Many. Steps.

A little competition never hurt anyone, especially if it is incentive for getting off the couch.

For three years now, I have had jobs that require sitting at a desk, in front of a computer, for eight hours a day. It doesn’t help that in the evening freelance projects require even more sitting. The cherry on top? After all of this sitting, I’m really tired so it’s easy to just sit down and read a book or watch TV.

A few weeks ago our Health and Wellness Committee organized a walking contest. The staff was split into two teams and we were supplied with pedometers. Whoever (figuratively) reached Grandview, Manitoba first, won. It made me realize that, if I only walked around the office and then had a fairly sedentary evening at home, I would only log about 1500 steps in a day – far short of the recommended 10,000. As a pretty competitive individual, I now had a nagging little voice at the back of my mind reminding me to put the effort into walking every day.

I decided to carve out some time to walk on the treadmill every evening or go out for a walk at lunch each day. This really helped increase my step count. Going dancing and  other activities like shopping also helped to get my numbers up. My worst days were definitely Sundays, where I often could not resist just laying around, justifying that I deserved a relaxing break.

On Wednesday morning, my team was delighted to discover we had reached Grandview first and had won the stepping competition. The effort had paid off, and I was now more aware of how inactive I really was. Along the way, I also picked up some tips to keep active when you have a desk job:

1. Split up your exercise activities so it isn’t as much of a time commitment. This tip comes from our Loans Manager Heather, who suggested doing a bit of walking in the morning, at lunch and in the evening.
2. Get into a routine. I decided to walk on my treadmill in the evening while watching two episodes of a new series. I wanted to see what happened next, which was a big push for me to keep walking the following night and so on.
3. Join activities. Some people find walking or running boring. Many people in the office are in after-work activities such as curling and Pilates. We also have lunchtime activities such as yoga and access to a gym. The hardest part is finding something that you enjoy so much that you barely realize its exercise. For me, it’s volleyball in the summer.
4. Encourage some friendly competition! Talk to your Health and Wellness team about an office contest that involves exercise. It’s a great way to build office culture and fuel some activity among staff.

Rumour has it, another competition is on the horizon. Exercise bingo, anyone?