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Guru Kate: Staying active at a desk job

Media has been buzzing in the past year about America’s “sitting disease.” These articles cite studies that claim our society stays seated for far too long, and this is to blame for America’s national health decline and increasing obesity rates.

It is more than plausible to infer prolonged periods of inactivity can lead to increased weight and decreased energy. Many people solve this problem by buying a gym membership, and committing to make it most days of the week.

Hitting the gym for six to seven hours a week is certainly commendable. It fits within the government’s recommendations for exercise and helps burn calories.

However, if you can’t afford or make time for a gym membership, keeping an active lifestyle has been touted by recent studies to be more effective at staving off the grim reaper.

Here are some tips ranging from the mild to the most ambitious:
• Park a half-mile away from your office. Walking this extra mile can burn nearly 100 calories for most people.

• Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. Make this a habit wherever you are so it becomes an everyday occurrence.

• Keep your lunch in your car. You’ll have to walk to get it at lunch and benefit from the stroll. If you go out for lunch, pick an eatery within walking distance and bring a friend.

• Ask if your company has an onsite gym or a offsite gym membership discount. Many corporate offices have deals that may not be well advertised.

• When you need to take a break from work, instead of checking the news (or Facebook), walk up and down a few flights of stairs. The increased heart rate and blood flow can get rid of the “2:30 feeling” without any energy drinks.

• Start an inter-office sports league. Choosing a low-impact sport is most likely to get everyone involved, like badminton, and having coworkers to support you in your active choices can help sustain motivation.

• Walk or bike to work.

• Build a standing desk and install a backwards-facing treadmill. Constantly walk at a slow pace while you work. Try not to distract any coworkers with your buff calves.

Even after all of these tips, you still may say to yourself that there is simply no time during the workday to add in exercise. If this is the case, try implementing a small change here and there. The easiest tip to incorporate is to take the stairs whenever and wherever you can. If in the first few times you feel embarrassingly out of breath, don’t worry about other people seeing you. Everyone has been there, and they’ll commend your wise choice.

Written by Kate Lindsley

Kate Lindsley is the columnist for Guru Kate. She is currently a Junior in her Dietetics program and has been writing for TNL since January of 2011. Her hobbies include cooking, knitting and running with friends. She also really enjoys questions submitted to Guru Kate, and may even answer them in print!