Fit at work: tips for more exercise in the office


Woman doing gymnastics exercise and laughing – Fit at work
The most important facts about fitness at work

reading time: ca. 5 minutes

  • Lack of activity causes many physical problems. Sitting at a desk for long periods of time triggers tensions and back pain.
  • There are many sensible measures and exercises that can be carried out in the office with little effort. Just a few minutes per day are enough.
  • Most important is the routine. If you do something every day, you will quickly notice positive effects. The more the change becomes a habit, the easier it is to stick to it.
  • Before you start, you should set your own personal goal. When mentally connecting with the goal on a daily basis, ideally all senses should be used in order to stay motivated.

Stress, lack of activity, overwork: those who take too little care of themselves and their bodies quickly end up in a negative spiral of exhaustion and physical problems. Yet it's not that difficult to do something for your fitness at work. Our expert Krystian Kwasniewski provides tips on how even small habits can make a big difference – with the right goal and mindset.

It is no secret that sport and mindfulness are important for physical and mental health. Nevertheless, very few people manage to take enough time for themselves in their everyday lives with packed schedules, office jobs, and families.

To promote the health and fitness of their own employees, companies can support in various ways. However, everyone has the opportunity to support his or her own body. Small changes in everyday life and short exercises in between contribute greatly to well-being. Above all, consistency is the key.

Healthy and fit at work

Spending hours sitting in front of the computer is not good for our bodies. In the 2022 Fact Sheet "Physical activity", the WHO recommends more than 150 minutes of physical activity and muscle strengthening at a minimum of two days per week to stay healthy and fit.

This is what lack of exercise causes

People with office jobs often spend too much time in a sitting position without planning appropriate activity breaks. However, our bodies are not built for such little movement. In the long run, this increases the risk of health problems, for example:

  • Back, shoulder and neck pain,
  • muscle tension,
  • diabetes,
  • mental illnesses such as depression and burnout,
  • cardiovascular diseases and
  • obesity.

That's why sport in the office makes sense

More exercise in the office not only improves general fitness, but also contributes significantly to one's own health – both physically and mentally. There are many good reasons to exercise at work regularly:

  • prevention and reduction of pain,
  • higher productivity and ability to concentrate,
  • increased mental well-being and improved job satisfaction,
  • less stress,
  • less vulnerability to illness, and
  • lower risk of obesity.
Business coach Krystian Kwasniewski in portrait

»Health starts in one's mind.«

Krystian Kwasniewski is a freelance business coach. He has been running various fitness courses for OVB since 2016. His lifelong passion for sport, exercise and mental health is something he wants to pass on to others. In an interview he told us more...

...about the importance of fitness and exercise:

»Many people take health for granted - that's a myth. Up to a certain age it works, but with steady aging we realise that we have to do something for it. But why wait until it is too late, and the suffering is already high? Prevention is the solution.«

...about routines:

»Most of our everyday lives are automatisms, meaning actions and activities such as eating and drinking that are controlled unconsciously. That's why they don't cost us any energy. Everything that is new in our everyday life costs energy, we must be more concentrated and focused. Routine is important and leads to an improvement in performance: I can build on something that was there before. The feeling of success is ritualised.«

about the goal as a coach:

»Basically, I do not aim to work through exercises, but to bring people back to their natural movements, which they have lost in the course of their lives. My goal is that people do something beyond the course. This has positive effects for body and mind: more productivity, effectiveness, and creativity.«

about our fitness courses for OVB employees:

»My and my team’s job is not only to practise sport with the participants, but rather to support them in developing an individual health awareness for themselves. The courses create space for exchange. Fun and enjoyment come first, the sport almost becomes a by-product. This creates motivation and the participants experience self-efficacy.«

about the mental attitude:

»Health starts in one's mind: When people lack motivation, inner blockages, challenges, and personal problems are often behind it. Every person is individual. It is important to know your own motivations and goals. This can be done, for example, through individual or group coaching, or a lot of self-reflection.«

»The routine is important: at the beginning it costs us energy, but at some point it becomes an automatism.«

Krystian Kwasniewski, business coach

Fit at work: Here's how

Changing one's life completely from one day to the next is something very few people manage to do. That is why it is important to think in small steps.

One thing is particularly important: consistency. If small changes become a routine, the first successes can be seen quickly. Good habits such as healthy eating during breaks and small meditations or mindfulness exercises increase your well-being.

Woman jogging with headphones – Fit at work

This is not only good for the body, but also for the mind: physical fitness and health improve mental abilities. The results are higher concentration, productivity, and performance at work – which at the same time increases satisfaction with oneself and the job.

So, the path to better physical and mental fitness at work starts with yourself. But how do you make the transition from initial motivation to a long-term routine?

How to successfully introduce new habits

Business coach Krystian Kwasniewski has three practical tips for anyone who wants to integrate new habits into their everyday life.

1. Starting out small: »Keep the hurdle as low as possible. If you never do any sport and suddenly have to go to the gym three times a week, you are overwhelmed. The question is: How much time can be committed permanently? Here it is important to start small. My tip, especially for beginners, is to create a space of 5 to 10 minutes every day that is used actively. If I do something for 5 minutes a day, that's 25 minutes a week, which is about 100 minutes a month. For someone who did nothing before, that's a huge increase.«

2. The right motivation: »When a habit is imposed from the outside, it is likely to give up soon. The question is: what is the personal goal? Most people want to lose weight, build muscle, get fitter - but these are superficial goals. It's more about the intrinsic goals. For example, not getting out of breath so quickly, doing sports with your daughter in the playground, having fun when running.«

3. Connecting with goals every day: »Through mental training, like a sensory experience, I create a connection to the goal. So, I have a visual idea of what it looks like when my goal is reached - or acoustic, olfactory, gustatory. For example, what concert I'm going to, what perfume I'm going to use, what food I'm going to enjoy. Then I set up 3 to 5 minutes a day in which I connect with these senses. When I see my future goal, I train my unconscious mind for it and the rest becomes automatic.«

Tips for more sport in everyday working life

  • Standing while working: A height-adjustable desk helps you to regularly work in a standing position. But even without the right equipment, the working day can be made more dynamic – for example, standing up when making phone calls or in meetings.
  • Introducing activity breaks: Sitting for too long can be avoided by scheduling regular activity breaks. The lunch break in particular can be used sensibly. Here you can go for a walk, do some exercises, or even take part in small sports sessions. And: In between, make sure to use the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Getting to work actively: Even the commute to work can often be designed more actively. Instead of coming by car, you might want to cycle or walk. When travelling by public transport, it helps to get off one or two stops earlier. And if you absolutely must use a car, you could park further away and walk the last bit.
  • Using company sport: Many companies offer sports activities for their employees. Also, a break activity programme or an after-work run with colleagues can be easily organised. Together, the motivation is much greater.

The daily 5 minutes for exercises at the workplace

Once the daily limit of 5 minutes has been set, you can start – even in the office. Of course, everyone must find out individually which exercises suit them best.

However, Krystian has a few general suggestions: »Basically, I would always recommend doing something while standing or walking, as a contrast to sitting. This can be simple hip circles, for example. Other good exercises are wave movements of the spine, shadow boxing, or simply putting on headphones with your favourite music and dancing. As long as the pace of movement is moderate, it's all good. Don't think too much, just do it

Young woman stretches her arms – Fit at work

This is how companies can support their employees

Even though the responsibility for one's own fitness lies with each individual, companies can help their employees with some actions.

These include, for example, the provision of ergonomic workstations and standing desks, the establishment of suitable sports activities, and the integration of health promotion measures into everyday working life.

Through education, a change in thinking can happen and thus an awareness for one's own health is created.

In the long run, this creates a win-win situation for both sides – because healthy and satisfied employees are the most important asset of any company.

Sport and health are important – even at work.

We support our employees through sports activities, running clubs, and dynamic workplaces.

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