While we take pride in sharing the message that a healthy lifestyle is important, it’s also critical to follow that advice and live a healthy lifestyle! Highmark Health employees don’t just talk the talk — we also walk the talk (#IWalktheTalk). In this series, individual employees share their stories and tips on achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle — and also what makes them tick when it comes to health.
As employees and leaders in the health care industry here at Highmark Health, we have opportunities to “Walk the Talk” on our journey to healthier lives. Here’s a simple idea the two of us (Gina Dansak and Sydnee Bagovich) have used to get a little exercise — and boost our spirits and productivity — during the workday: Take a meeting outside.
In our jobs — and most workplaces we’ve ever heard about — meetings with managers or co-workers are pretty much a daily reality. If you think about how often you are in meetings, the hours can really add up.
So, why not try just one of those hours in a different setting that requires everyone to walk a little farther than just down the hall? In addition to the physical activity helping you feel more energized during the workday, consider these other potential benefits:
Sydnee here with one of my favorite tips. I walk the stairs every morning up to my desk on the 12th floor of the Highmark building here in Pittsburgh.
Now, I didn’t walk to the 12th floor from day one. At first, I would just walk to 3, 4, 5 … as far as I could go before being winded — then grab the elevator for the rest of the way.
One day, I decided to go a little farther. I found that once I made it past 5, my heart rate settled down, and I could keep going. Eventually, I arrived at the day where I decided that I was going for it, and I went all the way to 12. And then I did it again. And again. Now it is my routine.
In fact, I take the stairs anytime I can. Now, I know not everyone works in a building as tall as the Highmark building, but the basic idea is if you have stairs — use ‘em! Going to a meeting? Take the stairs. Out to lunch? Take the stairs.
But, you say, that takes time! Well, yes it does, but I was surprised at how much time it doesn’t take. I timed myself up and down the stairs to the 12th floor. It took me a little over four minutes to go up, and a little over two minutes to go down. That is just walking at a pretty regular pace. For extra fun, I time myself and try to beat my best time.
The bottom line is that, depending on the number of flights you climb, and how busy your elevators are, using the stairs may not take much more time, and may even take less time, than waiting for the elevator, and then stopping at other floors for others to get in and out.
Try it! Even if you just climb two or three flights, consider how many more healthy steps you’ve built into your day by making this choice instead of taking the elevator!
Let’s face it — many modern jobs involve spending most of our days sitting in front of a computer. And too much sitting has been shown to be … not too healthy. In fact, an expert quoted in a Washington Post article notes that, “Metabolism slows down 90 percent after 30 minutes of sitting. The enzymes that move the bad fat from your arteries to your muscles, where it can get burned off, slow down. The muscles in your lower body are turned off. And after two hours, good cholesterol drops 20 percent.”
The bad news is that’s just the tip of the iceberg — there are plenty of other health hazards related to long periods of sitting. The good news is that there is much that we can do — and even fairly simple things can make a difference. For example, a CNN article points out that, “A growing amount of research suggests that just standing — even if you don’t walk around — can give health benefits. To get the right balance, sit 20 minutes out of every half hour at work, stand for eight and move around for at least two minutes.”
That is good information and good guidelines! Sometimes, we need to start healthier habits with baby steps, but awareness is the first step.
Once you vow that you’re not going to sit there and take it anymore, you’ll probably find yourself coming up with lots of good reasons to get up and move around. Here are a couple of our favorites:
In the workplace and at home, sometimes we don’t make ourselves a priority because we are so focused on giving our time and energy to our teams, co-workers, families and friends. Giving to others and contributing to the greater good is wonderful — but it’s important to remember that taking time to take care of ourselves does not necessarily mean we’re doing less for others. In fact, when we invest in keeping ourselves healthy, we can be at our best and do even more for the people and projects that we care about most. It is a win-win!
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