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Are You a Home Office Desk Potato?

How To Build Business

How not to be a couch potato when you work from home

One of the downsides of my working at home is that I spend a lot of time at my desk. I have no reason to walk to a colleague's cubicle or take a walk at lunch with my fellow employees because I haven't got any. Basically, by working from home, I've become a couch potato in my home office. Or rather a desk potato.

I set out to change all that in 2012 when I shared one of my New Year's resolutions with my husband—to get more exercise during the work day. I already walk my dog for an hour in the morning—and have been doing so for as long as we've owned the dog. But the dog turns 14 this week and well let's just say our once power walks are now leisurely strolls.

So back to my resolution. I'd heard and read about walking desks, treadmill desks, and standing desks—basically, work stations that allow you to stand or walk while working. Sounds confusing, I know, but it also sounded doable to me. With a little help from my DIY husband, a board, and two Craftsman brand bar clamps, I was able to build myself a treadmill desk, which I chronicled on my Suddenly Frugal blog .

These days I'll spend 60 to 100 minutes walking at 2.0 miles per hour while working on my laptop. I'll admit that it's difficult to type for long periods of time while walking at this pace, but I have been known to tap out a blog post or two while using my walking desk. In addition, when checking my email and surfing the web, well, that's no problem while I'm walking. (I still eat at my desk, though.)

Turns out I'm onto a good thing by finding ways to work exercise into my workday. Research shows that regardless of your exercise routine after hours, the more time you spend sitting each day, the higher your risk of heart disease. Evidence suggests your hips, spine, and shoulders suffer as well. "It's important to get up and move around throughout the day," says Julia Henderson-Kalb, a Saint Louis University occupational therapist. "Exercise not only helps with how you feel physically, but it also improves your mind and your memory."

If you don't own a treadmill or don't like the idea of walking and working, here are 4 ways that you can work at home or adjust things in your home office so you are less likely to be a couch potato throughout the day:

  1. Set up your laptop at a bar-height counter and stand to work. Even just the act of standing is better for your body than sitting still.

  2. Sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair. You'll strengthen your abdominal and back muscles, and improve your posture.

  3. Set an alarm to go off every hour to remind yourself to stand up and stretch. You can even keep a set of light weights next to your desk so that with each stretch break, you can do a few reps of weight lifting.

  4. Get in the habit of walking around your office when you talk on the phone.

Since I started using my treadmill desk in January, I've noticed that my back hurts less, and I feel less drained at the end of the day. I've also lost about 5 pounds. Those are "side effects" I'm happy to have now that I'm no longer a desk potato.

By: Leah Ingram on February 27, 2012

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Are You a Home Office Desk Potato?