Exercise and sport science professor recommends 10 ways to work out at work

We spend a third of each day at work, many of us sitting at a desk or at a computer. This inactivity is so bad for us that some health experts have declared that “sitting is the new smoking.”  If you’ve resolved to exercise more in 2018, check out these tips from Abbie Smith-Ryan, associate professor in the department of exercise and sport science in the College of Arts & Sciences, to share 10 ways to make your workout part of your workday.

people working out in the gym

1. Join the gym.

For only a $12.50 per month payroll deduction, permanent employees can purchase a recreation membership that gives them access to Campus Recreation facilities (three gyms and two pools) and programs.

(Employees are also eligible to join The Farm, the UNC Faculty-Staff Recreation Association off-campus, year-round recreation center with tennis courts, fitness center and swimming pools.)

2. Exercise with a friend or a group.

People are usually hesitant to exercise because they are unsure of where to start and have no accountability, Smith-Ryan said.  Attending a group fitness class or recruiting a friend to exercise with can be a fun way to exercise. Campus Recreation offers more than 25 options, from aerobics to Zumba.

3. Do something you enjoy.

Smith-Ryan encouraged exercise novices to figure out what kinds of activities they enjoy, so that exercise becomes less a chore and more an enjoyable life choice that you stick with. For example, the Ackland Art Museum hosts midday yoga and tai chi classes in its galleries on Mondays. Campus Recreation has facilities for swimming, climbing, indoor sports and sometimes offers free employee-only “sampler” fitness classes to help you pick a favorite activity.

4. Try a treadmill desk.

Treadmill desks are available on a first-come, first-served basis at Davis Library, in the 5th floor corner lounge, room 5053. The Gillings School of Global Public Health also has two treadmill desk stations that can be reserved by its employees. Even using a standing desk can help to alleviate lower back pain, improve blood flow and increase flexibility, Smith-Ryan said.

5. Tweak your commute.

Another painless way to add exercise to your day is to park farther away from your workplace, Smith-Ryan said. If you take the bus, get off the bus a few stops earlier than usual and walk the rest of the way.

Two men walking down the stairs6. Take the stairs.

You burn 10 calories a minute taking the stairs vs. 1.5 calories taking an elevator or escalator. The eatsmartmovemorenc.com website includes these tips in its Stairwell Guide: 1. Whenever you go to the restroom, take the stairs to one on another floor, 2. Take the stairs if you are traveling three floors or less; and 3.Get off the elevator one or two floors before your destination and take the stairs.

7. Make your office your gym.

The Employee Recreation team at Campus Recreation offers several in-office workshops, including Office Energizers, in which employees learn specific exercises that can be done in their offices for complete body toning.

8. Go for a walk.

Perhaps the easiest way to get more exercise is to take a stroll (or a power walk). Walk to the next meeting or to lunch instead of taking a car or bus, for instance. Or dedicate your lunch hour or break time to a long walk. Campus Recreation provides maps and descriptions of 11 different routes on campus, at the Friday and Rizzo Centers, Finley Golf Course and Meadowmont.

A person riding a bike9. Ride a bike.

The University recently introduced Tar Heel Bikes, a new bike share program with 100 bicycles placed in hubs around campus. You can take a bike from one hub to another – for meetings, errands or lunch – or on a longer spin.

10. Take a Fitness Break.

UNC Fitness Breaks is a student- and volunteer-led worksite wellness program for the University’s housekeeping and groundskeeping staffs. The program provides 10- to 15-minute fitness sessions to help staff members avoid injury by building muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance. The Fitness Breaks team currently conducts more than two dozen sessions each week at 10 different campus locations.

By Korie Dean, University Gazette