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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 30, 2013

10 Ways to Make Your Workplace Healthier and More Productive

By Mark Sisson
195 Comments

Grok MemoFor the most part, we all got into this Primal stuff to improve our own health and that of those close to us. Maybe we’re hoping to avoid the diabetes and heart disease that got our loved ones. Maybe we’re trying to lose a few pounds. Maybe we want to know what it’s like to walk ten miles without getting out of breath or having to coax our creaky joints out of their torpor. Whatever the motivation, we’re in this to make ourselves healthier and happier.

That’s how it starts. Once you reach your goals or even just begin to make headway, you notice everyone around you, especially the ones with visible health issues. It’s not that you’re looking down at them or that you’re superior in some way. You feel lucky enough to be privy to a secret is all, and you’d like to share what you know with the people around you – even strangers – who appear to be hurting unnecessarily. And your co-workers are no exception. Ah, co-workers. Many of us see these people more than our own spouses or children. We essentially live with them for eight hours a day. We learn their foibles, their habits, their quirks. In the best workplaces, our coworkers become a kind of family to us, and what do we do with family?

We care about them, especially their health.

The quickest way to get someone to stop listening and brand you forever as “that health nut guy” is to blather on and on about your diet, your exercise, your new healthy lifestyle that seems diametrically opposed to whatever they’re doing. Because when you do that, you’re telling them that they’re unhealthy, that they’re doing it all wrong. Even if you don’t explicitly criticize or question what they’re eating or “doing in the gym,” by talking up the stuff you’re doing (and discussing how bad wheat or vegetable oils are), you’re indirectly criticizing them. Or at least that’s how it might be taken.

So what are some unobtrusive ways to encourage healthy workplace practices? What might be done on the small-scale, individual, micro level? What might be done on a larger, office-wise scale? Let’s explore ten, simple (and not so simple), basic (and more complex), and effective ways to get your workplace healthier.

Walking meetings.

Ah, the mid-afternoon meeting. Is there a drearier human social activity? We’ve all fiddled with our smartphones through enough boring, pointless, useless meetings to last us a lifetime, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can walk and talk (and chew Stevia-sweetened gum) at the same time, can’t you? So why not try it? You’ll get your 10,000 steps for the day, along with your colleagues, you’ll get fresh air, you’ll get sun (hopefully), you’ll get a change in the group dynamic that might spur creative thinking, and if the ancient tales are true, you’ll be in good company: Aristotle was said to conduct his teachings as he walked the halls of the Lyceum in Athens.

Unless you’re the boss, I don’t expect you to instate walking meetings across the entire office and discard all standard sit-down meetings. That’s not realistic. But next time you have an informal meeting with another coworker or two, suggest you go for a walk outside (or even through the confines of the building and down hallways, Aaron Sorkin-style). It might catch on.

Why your boss should care: There’s reason to believe that walking meetings may be more productive that sit-down meetings, since walking has been shown to boost brain connectivity and function. Better functioning brains with better neural connectivity come up with better ideas.

Standing workstations.

Sitting all day is terrible for your health, it hampers your ability to oxidize the fat you just ate, increases the risk of obesity and diabetes, and it’s an evolutionarily novel environmental factor with drastic consequences. Forget the health aspects of it and focus on the qualitative, subjective effects, even. Whenever I’m forced to spend all day sitting down, I can actually feel my zest for life being snubbed away. I feel like a slug. When I do get up and move around after having sat for a long time, I’m slower. My joints are achier, my muscles less responsive. It’s just awful. I can’t imagine trying to work with that frame of mind and body.

Lobby for a standing workstation, or build a makeshift one. They’re getting more and more popular, so your office may already have a few pioneers. At any rate, start a trend and others will soon follow. You may be that weird guy who stands for awhile, but that’s okay. One or two curious and brave souls will inevitably join your ranks.

Why your boss should care: Since sitting kills, quite literally, and a dead workforce is an unproductive workforce, standing workstations may improve productivity (and increase liveliness). If the boss is concerned about standing affecting the quality of work, one study found that standing (or walking) workstations improved metabolic processes without hampering the quality of the work.

Plants in the office.

My post a while back on why working outside (at least some of the time) is ideal if you can make it work got a lot of responses. Problem is, most people can’t make that work. Not yet, at least. But some of the benefits of being outdoors come from being close to plants, trees, and other green things. Save for most trees and a select variety of plant life scheduled by the DEA, we can bring plants into the office, where they can improve the quality of the air and make workers more productive. Even if you don’t buy into the physiological underpinnings of why plants are good to be around, almost anyone would agree that plants are just nice to look at. A bare room is awful, but stick a big green plant in the corner, and you’ve suddenly changed the vibe of the room to be more positive and welcoming. That counts for something, doesn’t it?

Start small. Adorn your cubicle/office/desk with various plants. Maybe buy a few extra to give as gifts to each “area” of the office. Hook your boss up with a fern or something. Just get people exposed to plants and the rest will follow. And if it doesn’t, at least you’re reaping the benefits.

Why your boss should care: Research shows (PDF) that plants in the office can improve productivity, increase concentration, and make workers happier and less stressed. This effect is greatest among workers who spend more than four hours a day in front of a computer (sound familiar to anyone?).

Start a (healthy) breakfast club.

Okay, I get it. Fried rings of sugary dough dipped in even more sugar covered with sugary glazes satisfy (or at least trigger) some deep-seated primal desires for salt, sugar, fat, and crispiness, but they aren’t Primal. And yet they enjoy persistent popularity as a breakfast item. What about muffins? At least everyone knows donuts are health disasters, but the muffin has somehow retained the reputation for being a healthy breakfast food. Meanwhile, they’re cupcakes without the frosting and they seem to be getting bigger and bigger every time I see one (c’mon, who needs a pound of muffin?).

If you were to start a healthy breakfast club (double points if you have the classic movie running in the background), where people bring in food to share with the office that isn’t cake-related, you’d have an easy avenue to show off what’s truly possible when you eat Primal. Think hardboiled eggs. Think reams of bacon. Think actual fresh fruit. Think Primal pancakes. Think sweet potato hash (with more bacon and more eggs). Nominate yourself to be one of the first to bring breakfast and set the tone.

Why your boss should care: Donuts and muffins elicit massive spikes in blood sugar, followed by a subsequent drop-off, while protein-and-fat-rich breakfasts result in steadier levels of blood sugar. Why does this matter? Steady blood sugar levels improve cognitive function.

Sponsored gym memberships.

Lots of employers are doing this nowadays, and it’s a great thing. Gym memberships are seen as a luxury item for many household budgets, particularly in these difficult times, so an employer who includes a gym membership among the other benefits afforded to their employees is a great one.

If your boss won’t sponsor you for the gym, consider assembling a group of willing and able coworkers to head on down to the gym and angle for a group rate. Once the higher-ups notice that there’s a demand (and the tax breaks outlined below won’t hurt), they may change their minds. And if they don’t, at least you just got yourself a bunch of gym buddies.

Why your boss should care: What you might lose in gym fees (which you’ll get a great package deal on, no doubt), you’ll gain in savings on health care costs. Stronger, healthier, fitter employees are happier, more productive employees who are less liable to use sick days. Plus, you’ll kill the other office in the annual softball game. Oh, and you can probably even get some tax write-offs while you’re at it.

Integrated exercise equipment in the office.

I’m a big fan of peppering my day with activity. Dedicated extended workouts are great and all, but I think working exercise into the flow of your normal day is more sustainable for the average person – and it more closely approximates how our ancestors would have “exercised.” The problem is that most of us get our exercise in gyms. We have to suit up, get in our cars, drive to the gym, file inside, and wait our turns for whatever machine or weight we need to use. Some people have home gyms, but not most. What if you could have a “work gym”? What if there was a pullup bar leading in to the break room, a climbing rope hanging from the rafters, gymnastics rings attached to the overhead beam near the bathrooms? How awesome would that be? How many pullups do you think you’d be able to do after a year of doing them every time you went to fill your water bottle?

Start with a pullup bar in a doorframe somewhere. As long as you don’t damage the building, your boss should be receptive to it. Then, expand from there.

Why your boss should care: Intermittent bouts of exercise will keep workers alert, productive, and engaged. They won’t be “going to failure,” after all, but rather hitting a few reps here and there. Plus, healthy workers get sick less often and use less health care.

Fitness challenges.

Competition breeds progress. Wanting to beat the other guy or girl can make the prospect of working out regularly seem doable or even pleasurable, even in the normally sedentary. Having others with whom to share your pain (or triumph) makes the task more bearable.

Suggest some fitness challenges to your workmates. Stuff like “first to 100 pushups” (or 50) or “first to 15 pullups” (or 5) or “first to deadlift twice your bodyweight” (or just bodyweight) are simple and easy to keep track of and prizes for the winner may heat things up. The challenges don’t even have to really be competitive, either. You can all pledge to “hike for six miles” or “take a walk every night” or “do fifty pushups a day.” They can be common goals you all rally around, where the prize is simply completing the goal.

Why your boss should care: Whenever you get people together in an enclosed space, rivalries and politics and pettiness will arise. By channeling all that energy into fitness-related competition, you can avoid the office politics that are the downfall of many a workplace.

Start a walking club.

I’d never heard of this before a wife of one the Worker Bees told me about her workplace’s walking club. Basically, this is how it works. The floor is split up into groups of four people. Each person is given a basic pedometer, paid for by the company, and the groups keep track of their daily steps. Each week or two, the groups add up their steps and whichever one gets the most wins a prize. It’s pretty simple, but it gets the people walking a lot. They keep track of steps taken on weekends, too, so people are motivated to be more active away from work.

Start with a mini club – just a few people, perhaps – and expand from there. Since standard pedometers are pretty cheap, you can even buy the first round for your club. It’s a few bucks out of your pocket, but you’ll have triggered a monumental (yet simple) change in people’s lives.

Why your boss should care: As mentioned above, walking improves cognitive function. Healthy, well-functioning brains do better work, which increases productivity. Plus, if your employees are consistently hitting 10,000 steps a day, they’re going to be healthier.

Office naps.

The midday siesta is a cherished tradition in many a nation, but not because people are lazy good for nothings. The nap is just good policy. For one, it’s a bite-sized piece of sleep, a kind of sleep snack, and sleep is as physiologically vital as food and water. We need it to be healthy, but we don’t get enough, and naps can help us chip away at accrued sleep debt. Second, naps are proven to increase alertness. Naps are also superior to (but less delicious than) coffee when it comes to the “purity” of said alertness.

I wouldn’t recommend sprawling out underneath your desk willy-nilly. If you’d like to incite a napping revolution, you need to start small and inconspicuous. Don’t assume people will immediately understand (“Oh, George is just fortifying his relational memory!”), as napping still carries negative connotations. Take a short power nap after lunch – cut your lunch a bit short if you have to – and urge your receptive coworkers to do the same. Then, consider approaching the boss with your suggestions.

Why your boss should care: Tired employees are less effective employees who produce subpar work. And long naps that take up valuable work time aren’t necessary, or even necessarily beneficial; one study found that a 10-minute power nap was the most recuperative compared to 20- and 30-minute naps.

Lead by quiet example.

People like leaders. They like inconspicuous leaders even more, the people who lead by example rather than by decree. Because none of us are experts in everything, we need people to look up to for  motivation, for instruction. If you’re just a healthy person who’s never really stressed out about your workouts, who doesn’t fear animal fat or meat, who’s happy with her Big Ass Salad at lunch, who doesn’t seem to need to mainline coffee throughout the day to stay awake, there’s a strong chance you’ll be one of those inconspicuous leaders without even trying. People will take note of how you do it and start to question themselves – and their lack of progress. They may even come to you with questions. Don’t lecture, don’t be pushy. Just answer and help and guide as needed (and when asked).

Why your boss should care: I don’t think this one’s really applicable, is it?

That’s what I’ve got, folks. What about you? How would you enact some healthy changes in your workplace? How have you already? Let us know in the comment section!

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195 Comments on "10 Ways to Make Your Workplace Healthier and More Productive"

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Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 7 months ago

A hallway pull up bar would kick butt.

Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago

Wouldn’t it?

Lee
Lee
3 years 7 months ago

Presumably to work those ‘guns?’. Deep burn… 😉

Unamused Mouse
3 years 7 months ago

I’ve used the washroom stall framework for this before, but beware, some are built better/stronger than others. Also, it’s awkward when someone walks in and you’re mid-drop. 🙂

Bill C
Bill C
3 years 7 months ago

I took to doing this a couple weeks ago in my dorm. Just use the towel as a pad (the crossbeam has a ridge); 3 pull-ups; 3 chin-ups; 4-5 times a day; perhaps 5 days a week.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

Sometimes I sling a towel, rope, etc. over a pull-up bar or suitable substitute and hold on to it while doing pull-ups. It’s a great exercise; it’s easier in a way if you wrap the grip around your fingers, and you can manipulate your position and form much better and with more variety than a bar. I’ve never owned rings so that’s my parallel.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago
A few summers ago a friend and I used to work out together sometimes and we were talking about our muscle-exaggerating passion while in a mall bathroom. Getting pumped up about toning his abs, as he’d been putting some effort into it, my friend lifted up his shirt to examine his stomach in the mirror just before someone walked in. That was awkward. I used to be a little narcissistic in a similar way. I habitually looked at my reflection to see how I was doing. I still do occasionally but not overmuch. A little bit of self-criticism and self-esteem… Read more »
katschmitty
katschmitty
3 years 7 months ago

One of the offices i work in has a pullup bar above the conference room table. It’s pretty rad. And they have a running competition on who can do the most pull-ups. I’m working on getting the female record! lol

Ara
Ara
3 years 7 months ago

We have one on our floor. Maybe I should try using it??? 🙂

skeedaddy
skeedaddy
3 years 7 months ago

1000 and one, 1000 and two…

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago
In grade 10 my tech classroom had a pullup bar that was really an oar stuck through two boards attached to the wall. When encouraged by a friend I did the best set of chinups I ever did so far on that bar – 19 fast ones. I did 19 chinups and a “twentieth” when I could just get my face at bar level since but not as fast. It takes dedication. I used to do about 10, maybe 12 chinups every school morning before showering, just after waking up, and somehow that, gym class, and football and rugby made… Read more »
AustinGirl
AustinGirl
3 years 7 months ago

I built a stand-up desk using IKEA parts (easy to find with a google search). Now at least one person has one on my floor, and I know some others are thinking about it. It took me about a week to get used to, but after that, I wouldn’t go back to a sitting desk if I don’t have to. I’m pregger though (new development) so hopefully this kiddo will let me keep the stand up desk going for a long time!

Alexander
3 years 7 months ago

I use a standing desk throughout the day too. For me, it doesn’t really fix my back pain, it just helps a bit. I like to alternate between sitting and standing though.

Elliott
Elliott
3 years 7 months ago

After two months of a haphazard stand-up desk of books and boxes I finally got the IKEA model. Now that people in the office have seen that it looks good 5 others have jumped on the standing band wagon. It’s awesome and the boss likes it because he can look out of his office and see who’s at their desk!!
Standing at work is really one of the best things I have done for health and productivity.

Kristen
Kristen
3 years 7 months ago

I work from home but at a desk most of the day. I couldn’t justify spending money on a new standing desk so finally it hit me to take some paint cans and prop my current desk on top of those…perfect height for me!!! HAHA!

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

My probation officer has an excercise ball beside her regular chair. I respect that.

Stephanieocnj
3 years 7 months ago

rotflmao

Suzanne
Suzanne
3 years 7 months ago

Hi Mark,
What is the best lighting for an office without windows?

James
James
3 years 7 months ago

AustinGirl – I’d recommend a height adjustable lamp of some kind with “daylight bulbs”, you can get them cheap on-line and they come as long life energy saving bulbs too!

I have one over my screens at work and it definitely makes a difference, especially during winter. The lamp itself is an £8 Ikea desk lamp with a clamp.

Wayne Atwell
3 years 7 months ago

I love this article. These suggestions are pretty awesome, especially the plants, standing desk and equipment lying around the office. I wish I could do walking meetings more often but it is tough to walk and write at the same time.

Sam Smith
Sam Smith
3 years 7 months ago

Dictaphone?

Heather
Heather
3 years 7 months ago

Smart phone with voice recording?

Susie
3 years 7 months ago
LOVE IT! Printing out and sharing with my (health-conscious) boss. I am working on the plans for my own standing desk!! (I’ve gotten approval for making one, but it has to match the rest of our classy office furniture). I also love the “lead by quiet example”. I get lots of comments on my weird breakfasts (meat and veggies), but those usually lead to some good questions where I can share some resources. I try to let the questions come to me, rather than push it on people. Every time you put yourself out there, you could be planting a… Read more »
Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 7 months ago

You eat breakfast at work? Just curious why you (or anyone else) do not eat before coming to work. Unless you are a chef.

Wayne Atwell
3 years 7 months ago

I don’t eat breakfast at all. Intermittent fast every day, only question is whether it is 15 hours or 24 hours.

Graham
Graham
3 years 7 months ago

I’m with you. Doesn’t matter what’s on the agenda—skiing, lifting, hiking, whatever—I don’t eat till it’s been 16 hrs minimum, and Fridays I work out and then eat after 26.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

You’re still doing that? Nice dedication.

Elizabeth
3 years 7 months ago
I eat breakfast at work most days, but it’s a communal thing. I work at a power plant, staffed 24/7/365. We have a full kitchen and someone cooks breakfast nearly every day. If you want to eat, you kick in a few bucks to the Breakfast Fund. When you leave for work at 6AM, it’s nice to not have to worry about prepping/fixing something beforehand when you can just get some bacon and eggs at the office. That being said, I do keep nuts or a bag of coconut flakes on hand for the rare days when they make pancakes… Read more »
Amber B
Amber B
3 years 7 months ago

I eat breakfast at work every day as well. We have a fully loaded kitchen (everything you’d need except your actual food) and I have to leave my house by 6am every morning. Why -wouldn’t- I eat breakfast at work? 🙂

michael
michael
3 years 7 months ago

I eat breakfast at work while I go through my morning email, because it allows me to get more sleep! Of course, I eat dried meat and some nuts for breakfast (and I’m not even all that primal).

BTW, the coffee shop at my work has little signs on all their food with the calories each food contains. The lemon-poppyseed muffins have 800 calories!!

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

Lemon and poppy seeds go well together, but skip the other baking ingredients. Baking soda would reduce the acidity, and a pH of 6.5 or so is best for opiate absorption. Opiates and at least one of their derivatives stunt hunger.

Cindy
Cindy
3 years 7 months ago

I eat breakfast at work mainly because it’s just such a pain getting out of the house in the morning. Between kids and the dogs, it’s easier to put some primal fuel in a baggie and a few hardboiled eggs (and whatever else is laying around) while I put my lunch together and eat in peace once I get to my desk. This wouldn’t have worked with my old job which was “GASP” at Einstein Bagels. This was before I found out I was gluten intolerant and got back into the corporate world.

Goldie
Goldie
3 years 7 months ago

I eat breakfast at work because I have to take medicine on an empty stomach–and I can’t eat or drink anything besides water for 3 hours after. I have to be at work at 5:30am, so I’d have to wake up at 2:00am to take medicine if I wanted to eat breakfast before I go to work. My sleep is more important than the 10 minutes it takes me to heat up my breakfast in the office microwave and eat it!

PhilmontScott
PhilmontScott
3 years 7 months ago

I eat breakfast at work. I prefer to break my fast after my workout, and we have both a full gym and a full cafeteria here. The eggs are semi-local, and I get to watch them fried to order in front of me.

Andie
Andie
3 years 7 months ago

I eat breakfast EVERYDAY at my office, one of the side effects of having to be at the desk at 0700. Hardboiled eggs, avocados and sliced raw veggies are my best friends.

Lea
Lea
3 years 7 months ago
I eat at work too. I start pretty early (8am), but have an hour long commute. In addition to getting myself ready in the morning, I have to cook breakfast for and feed my 4 year old before getting out of the house. It’s sort of a combination of not having the extra time to feed myself, but also I’m just not hungry that early in the morning. I soft boil a batch of eggs that I bring in and around 9/9:30am every morning I peel and eat. It’s really all I need, but I do need something in the… Read more »
Karen
Karen
3 years 7 months ago

I eat at work as well, for a couple of reasons. One (which I don’t seem to be alone in) is that I like to sleep as late as possible in the mornings. The other is that I still don’t love to cook. Rather than prepare each meal one at a time just before I eat it, I cook large batches of food (including a breakfast casserole with meat, eggs, and lots of veggies) each weekend and reheat portions throughout the week.

Egglet
Egglet
3 years 7 months ago
I eat breakfast at work. I need to be there at around 5:30am which means getting up at 4am (3:30 if it’s a workout day), and leaving the house at 5am. I eat at right after our daily 7am meeting, so usually around 8am. It actually works out to the same time that I have breakfast on my days off. I happen to work in a 1 million sq ft facility, so there is ample room for walking, which I do a lot of. In fact, spending lots of time in the office is considered not doing your job. Not… Read more »
Rob
Rob
3 years 7 months ago

I eat breakfast at work (well second breakfast) I have a protein shake on the way to work, around 8, and at 9:30 break I microwave a couple of eggs with some cheese, spinach, meats

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

lol second breakfast. I’ve been amused by the term since The Fellowship of the Ring film came out. I like a second breakfast. In grade 12B after biking to school in the morning I’d normally have a second breakfast of vegetables during my first class.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

Studies have shown that snacking on raw vegetables betters brain function.

Elliott
Elliott
3 years 7 months ago

This model has worked for my office. The light wood color or black matches our office furniture pretty well.

http://iamnotaprogrammer.com/Ikea-Standing-desk-for-22-dollars.html

And it’s cheap!!

Danny
Danny
3 years 7 months ago

Any recommendations on resilient indoor plants? I like the greenery…but am still working on earning my green thumb card.

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 7 months ago

Offhand I recall a TED talk that makes the case for a specific plant arrangement to improve indoor air quality. [pause while searching]. Kamal Meattle. (inserted the hyperlink below)

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

I read in a newspaper that citronella is supposed to improve mood. There were other plants I can’t remember that were recommended for therapeutic purposes. Mint is good for the brain and vascular system. Catnip, I’ve found through experimentation, makes a great tea when steeped freshly picked in cold water. It’s relaxing, soothing, and increases the body’s propensity to sweat, which gives your pores a good cleaning.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

Catnip is also known as a mosquito repellent. In the summer, if I’m staying in my lair (I expect so), I plan to pick catnip and leave it wherever mosquitos are able to get in.

cTo
3 years 7 months ago
Pothos. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epipremnum_aureum They are a vining plant commonly used for houseplants because they are INDESTRUCTABLE. All they need is a liberal amount of water every other day or so and they go NUTS. If you go on vacation or forget to water or something and they start to wilt, just pick up watering where you left off and theyll come back. I also had a friend who had one accidentally eaten by a bearded dragon of hers, and even though it was eaten completely down to the stubs it grew back. Since they grow as vines, it can be fun… Read more »
raydawg
raydawg
3 years 7 months ago

Pothos is toxic to cats. I realize you don’t have cats in the workplace, but beware if you have pothos at home if you have cats.

Oh and I recently lost a cat to lillies of all things – these cause renal failure. 🙁

Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago

Philodendrons, my friend. My father used to put *coffee* on his at work. Water, fertilizer once a year, and a tiny bit of light is all they need. They can be trimmed with office scissors. I’m about ready to post a link to a bunch of plants that make good office plants. The philodendron is towards the bottom.

Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago
Allynn
Allynn
3 years 7 months ago

Philodendrons come in a variety of leaf sizes and colorations and are known for being good air filters. They prefer indirect light and require watering once a week, if that. We have five plants scattered about our office. Vines can be wrapped around pots or posts to create at ‘tree’.

mamab
mamab
3 years 7 months ago

Aglonema, and diffenbachia are two that I have in my home. They are doing well. The aglonema likes low light and thrives in the basement bathroom. Oh – I have an outdoor gardening green thumb but somehow I manage to kill most houseplants even cacti!

Spiderplants and african violets are a couple more.

RobW
RobW
3 years 7 months ago

You don’t have to have resilient plants…you could take in a plant of your choice, that you like and then change it for a nother one after a week or so; just take the other one home or swap it with a colleague. This way you refresh your desk and cheer up a mate too.

Rocket Jones
Rocket Jones
3 years 7 months ago

We very recently started a walking club. There’s plenty of interest, but only a few of us actually participating every day. We work in a large building, so someone did the measurements and figured out that 5 laps around our floor is about 1 mile. We walk 4 laps, then down the stairs to the lobby (we work on the 7th floor), across the lobby, take the stairs back up to our floor, then do one final lap to cool down. So far, so fun.

Cindy
Cindy
3 years 7 months ago

Our group does a “Biggest Buddy” Loser contest 4x a year. My Buddy and I walk as fast as we can for 10 minutes before we eat lunch every day. Thank goodness there are underground tunnels we can use since it’s pouring rain outside and 60 today, and will be 20 with snow tomorrow!

bjjcaveman
3 years 7 months ago

did you guys do any of the competitive stuff?

cTo
3 years 7 months ago
Over the last few years, at some point literally everyone I work with has come to me to ask more about primal/paleo and said theyre interested in trying it out. 90% of them have shrugged it off, or tried it for a few weeks and then shrugged it off. Its made me a little jaded about sharing my info with people, since its disheartening to pour my heart into sharing this thing im passionate about and know can help people but they only go “meh” about it. I mean, I still share info when they ask, but I dont devote… Read more »
Cindy
Cindy
3 years 7 months ago

I just send people to this website and recommend books like Marks, Wheat Belly, and the Paleo Answer. If they are really interested, they will do the reading. If not, they won’t. You can lead a horse to water…

cTo
3 years 7 months ago
Ara
Ara
3 years 7 months ago

Agreed!

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago
Last year, chilling in a forested small park with a friend and wanting to know the time, I decided to climb a tree to look at a big clock on top of a building. There were some boards nailed into the tree for climbing. I had to jump for the lowest. It came out of the tree and resulted in me landing in the foot-first, squatting, back half-roll cushioning style. I got up as quick as was comfortable, backstepped, then ran at the tree, jumped, pushed off with a foot and gripped the next board. A group of teens walking… Read more »
Paul Matthews
3 years 7 months ago
A book which has some excellent ideas for getting people to change is ‘Switch’. Suggest they do one thing, in fact, don’t even suggest, just take them on a walking meeting ( described in the book as the Critical move). Repeat this to establish the habit, to reduce the change and to gradually allow them to form their new identity of say a Paleo Worker. When they form this new association change becomes easier as it will start to underpin their thinking. Along the way things need to be done to make the path easier. The suggestions in this article… Read more »
Alexander
3 years 7 months ago

Haha yeah I hear that. It’s like anything though, if you come to people acting like you’re an authority… people don’t like it. Even if they do, people don’t need diet advice, they need psychology advice in order to change their habits and deeply understand behavioral change.

I wish the problem were simply ignorance, but it’s not… it’s habit change. Which is tough!

Ara
Ara
3 years 7 months ago

Thank you! I’ve become more and more primal over the last 6months in terms of diet but can’t seem to get into the fitness groove. Been trying to get there but my bed is so comfy and warm in the morning I just don’t want to get up to workout. Started taking the stairs at work though… It’s a start.

John
John
3 years 7 months ago

Mark,

I’d be interested to see pictures from around your office of cool things that you implement in your daily work.

John

bjjcaveman
3 years 7 months ago

I always imagined the pictures at the top of the page to be his office!

Rod Hilton
Rod Hilton
3 years 7 months ago

Awesome article Mark…… Am battling with work over our “Broken” fitness facility right now…. I / WE will win!

Nigel
Nigel
3 years 7 months ago

The Integrated Office Exercise Machine!!
Woody Allen got there first, and what a fine primal specimen he is : )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCvtqy4-RS8

IABenz
IABenz
3 years 7 months ago

Yearly at my company we’re required to give a speech. Last year mine was on the fact that sitting all day is killing us. After that speech three other people in the office got standing desks, and they all said it was because of my speech. Public speaking is not my forte, mind you. I love the idea of a pull up bar somewhere in the office, since I can’t even do one. That, and I’m going to buy some plants…

Joe
Joe
3 years 7 months ago

Woo hoo! Not another baby post!

SusynK
SusynK
3 years 7 months ago

I was thinking the same thing. 🙂

Rebekka
Rebekka
3 years 7 months ago

Me, too!

Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago

*laughing*

mamab
mamab
3 years 7 months ago

Awwww whats wrong with babies? 🙂

Sue
Sue
3 years 7 months ago

Although I finally got an “official” standing desk at work, I made my own prior to that my stacking my computer on top of phone books and setting my keyboard on an empty banker’s box. 🙂 It’s so nice getting home at the end of the day knowing that I haven’t been sitting for most of the day! I also stand up at meetings. I am definitely the ONLY one who does this – but for my health, it’s worth it to be the “weird one!” Thanks Mark!

Stan
3 years 7 months ago

If you don’t want to stand at your desk, get an exercise ball and sit on that. I had 15 years of lower back issues disappear without doing anything else. You want to get one size larger than is recommended for your height. It’s easy to do stretches and movements at any time without even getting up.

Helga
Helga
3 years 7 months ago

Here’s an interesting article about exercise balls in the classroom, although I suppose it’s a no-brainer:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-11-02/news/0911010339_1_balls-classrooms-exercise-classes

I wouldn’t fancy a standing work station. I have a regular office chair at my desk and I sit on it on my knees, Japanese-style. Come to think of it, I also kneel on my dining room chair when I’m eating. Thank goodness my family is used to my odd foreign ways!

Dani
3 years 7 months ago

Sweet! Maybe even the stuffy and super conservative law firm I work for can even get on board.

Nick
Nick
3 years 7 months ago

Great article, Mark. I really like your ideas and I’m not trying to be a troll but I count only 9. Is it me? Am I missing it?

1. Walking meetings.
2. Standing workstations.
3. Plants in the office.
4. Start a (healthy) breakfast club.
5. Sponsored gym memberships.
6. Integrated exercise equipment in the office.
7. Fitness challenges.
8. Start a walking club.
9. Lead by quiet example.

Bill C
Bill C
3 years 7 months ago


8. Start a walking club.
9. Office naps.
10. Lead by quiet example.

Kate
Kate
3 years 7 months ago
I stand at work frequently. I put my monitor on a box and prop up my mouse and keyboard on stacks of books. Works great. Co-worker of mine started doing it last year and I picked it up from her. Also find that I do more activity throughout the day this way – I’ll end up doing calf raises, or squats, or just moving more. My office also does a summer walking group & offers workers the chance to track their physical activity and receive prizes if they get to certain goals. While I think the idea of installing pull… Read more »
joe
joe
3 years 7 months ago
Try to lead by example and don’t really indulge anyone in the details of my lifestyle unless they ask me. Over the past 5 years of being primal/paleo people have asked and some really good conversations and friendships resulted. A few eat/live a primal lifestyle and really enjoy the improvements. One of the big things I’ve done for the past 8 yrs at my workplace, is workout during lunch. Everyone knows Wednesday as mountain bike riding day. We also do group workouts right after work, running, cycling, HIIT, or walking. At one point a small group started the work Olympics… Read more »
Nick
Nick
3 years 7 months ago

I raised the desk in my cubicle to standing height and gave away my chair which both have the added benefit of opening up lots of floor space for sitting/squatting/kneeling to work on the floor, stretching, floor exercises, or “Costanza-style” napping. 😉 Sitting too much makes me stiff, sore, tired, and much less productive.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

My “nest” of five blankets and a foam mattress and bags of extra clothes are positioned in a way by the door of the room I dwell in so I have to traverse the pile by lunging to enter or exit the room. That combined with climbing through a window as my access point gets me routine natural exercise. In one campsite there was a fallen tree about waist level blocking my path so I normally got by it by holding onto it and doing the limbo or going over it.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

I’ve realized language doesn’t have a lot of words for bush living, which seems restrictive.
Also jumping or any other form of expending extra energy besides striding in public seems to be looked at with critical scrutiny. I’ve gotten weird looks from people after hopping fences or running across a road and leaping onto the sidewalk. It’s stressful for me when people look at me funny but the more active I am the more I want to move freely and the more jubilant I feel.

Sarah
Sarah
3 years 7 months ago
I gave my boss “The Primal Blueprint” to read after he witnessed my success. (He was actually the first one to comment how “skinny” I was getting and how I looked 10 years younger.) Anyways, not only did he not read it fully, he told me I could NOT tell other people about it while at work because I do not know enough about it. (February 19th is my ONE YEAR PRIMAL ANNIVERSARY!!) He is a true believer in conventional wisdom and I don’t think anyone will change his mind. So I just keep my lips zipped at work. Does… Read more »
Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 7 months ago

I hope you got the book bag to pass on to others who could benefit from reading it.

While I agree there are work appropriate conversations and non work appropriate conversations, I would think talking about food choices during lunch or a break time- especially if asked do to ones weight loss- does not fall under the “non work appropriate” category. Unless you happen to work for Kraft, Pepsi, Monsanto, etc.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

Burn them GM crops!

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

It’s actually been done.

wildgrok
wildgrok
3 years 7 months ago

Hi Sara, I feel your pain!
I am lucky, I am ignored 100%, not discriminated 🙂

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

I’ve been told at least twice that I “eat the weirdest shit.” That was in shelters and I just continued my intake of primal sustenance and metaphorically slapped their faces.

Paul
Paul
3 years 7 months ago
I created a stand up desk at work, but the problem is, if I don’t keep moving my legs will hurt and go numb (prior back injury) and as a result I tended to gravitate away from the standing. I may try again when I have dropped some weight and my injury will hopefully not be so much of an issue. I am a teacher and I try to stay standing and moving as much as possible anyways, but at the computer s a no go. I did get some students to start an unoffical fitness club at school! Hoping… Read more »
Steve Gardner
Steve Gardner
3 years 7 months ago
I have also crafted a bastard standup desk, for office and when I work in the home office. My back will hurt if I stand too long, so while standing, I do a lot of rocking, shifting weight from one foot to the other. I also have a kneeling chair that can be a minute-to-minute support on which to rest my knee while standing. I also go from standing to sitting. And when I sit, I use the kneeling chair so I am strengthening my back. I usually stand for the first 2-3 hours, sit for an hour, stand a… Read more »
Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

Teachers impress me by writing on blackboards. I’ve always found that to quickly turn into a strenuous activity.

Carol
Carol
3 years 7 months ago
I’m very lucky in that my office has it’s own gym. It’s small, but I’ve been able to help pick out some of the equipment. Tomorrow ends our January 3000 push-up in 30 Days challenge. Thinking February might be 3000 sit-ups??? I’ll admit, not very many people participated in the challenge, but it got them talking! I’m also very lucky that I work in an office where there are quite a few people that eat Primal/Paleo (that’s how I found out about it) and every once and I while I hear about someone else going Primal – I love it!!… Read more »
Conny
Conny
3 years 7 months ago

Our law office provides bagels, muffins and donuts every Friday. After reading the suggestions I think I’ll subversively bring in a dozen hard-boiled eggs and place them on the same table this Friday and check back to see how many of them are still there.

Also, I thought of putting a pull-up bar in my doorway but you know there’d be a few attorneys who’d have to prove themselves by using it – HR probably wouldn’t approve.

joe
joe
3 years 7 months ago

If you want better response, make some deviled eggs. Every time, I’ve make them for work there is never enough and they gone in a couple mins.

W. J. Purifoy
W. J. Purifoy
3 years 7 months ago

Go see HR – it never hurts to ask. They might say yes – you won’t know until you ask.

Andrew
Andrew
3 years 7 months ago

Best office toy: Bongo Board!

http://www.fitter1.com/Catalog/Items/BONGO.aspx

Wear a helmet.

William
William
3 years 7 months ago

I’m wondering what everyone’s thoughts are on full spectrum lighting. I work at home and just recently bought some full spectrum CFL bulbs for my home office.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

A 45 watt bulb is supposed to be a decent simulation of moonlight.

Dagmar
3 years 7 months ago
Excellent suggestions. Even for people who work from home and are already convinced paleo-life-stylists. We’ve bought stand-up desks for the whole family by now. We even got a stand-up desk for our teenage son now and there’s a huge difference already. None of us have headaches anymore, which were a result of bad posture, we have all lost weight (not because of stand-up desks alone, but because of going primal in general), and I can only agree that standing over sitting has so many health benefits, they are too many to recite here. Mark is so right about just doing… Read more »
Rebekka
Rebekka
3 years 7 months ago

Totally OT, but my little girl’s name is Dagmar and I’ve never seen anyone called that on American interwebz before. (I’m in Scandinavia.) Awesome! Cool name. 😉

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago

That sounds like a powerful name.

Nate Anglin
3 years 7 months ago

I’ve been debating on a standing workstation for months now. It sounds crazy but I have an office that clients come in to and I don’t want it to look tacky since impression is everything. I’ve opted for a stability ball instead, even though the benefits aren’t as great.

wildgrok
wildgrok
3 years 7 months ago

Hey I use both, spend half the time on each. I think it is better than full time on either. and in the ball you can do a lot of mobility exercises while doing your office work. I understand the clients issue

Janine
Janine
3 years 7 months ago
I work in a professional office and my standing workstation looks totally professional. Why would you think that a standing workstation looks tacky? I have a lovely tall desk with a tall chair beside it for times when I just need to ocassionally sit down. If I am meeting clients, we go into an adjacent meeting room, or have a small regular height table and chairs in the office. So, most of the time, I can stand and do my work (and I pace around while taking calls so always moving..take most of my calls in the file room!), but… Read more »
fifer
fifer
3 years 7 months ago

I work from home, and my standing desk is the same as my previous siting desk – an antique drop-front bureau. I can sit with the flap down, or I can rest my laptop on the top with the flap up and stand very comfortably. I don’t think you can get a more professional look than one of these old bureaux – I think Ikea do a modern one as well.

wildgrok
wildgrok
3 years 7 months ago

I am ok in this area, including the standing workstation. I think I am a good example, but I noticed that when asked about what I eat and I mention that most of my calories come from fat (preferably saturated animal fat) the questioners disappear! My conversion rate is a big zero.
My immediate action item is:
I need to add the plants!

Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago
I love this! I have been known for awhile now as the “crazy soup girl” in my office. I make tons of bone broth and find it easier for me to feel satified with a bowl of soup for lunch than a salad. I love salads for breakfast and dinenr, but for some reason soup with tons of veggies and some meat really does the trick for me at lunch. Several of my co-workers check my lunch daily to see what soup I’ve concocted. Now, on a regular basis people will bring in a crock pot full of soup to… Read more »
John
John
3 years 7 months ago
Lead by example. I have been primal/paleo for three years and had already lost my weight before joining my current company. However people do notice what I eat and frequently ask about it. I have no issues telling them and without exception every person who has looked into primal or paleo eating agrees that it REALLY makes sense. What is interesting is that this is a drug development company full of people who practice science every day. Each year after the holidays there is a 60 day “biggest loser” contest based on a percent of body weight lost. Weigh ins… Read more »
JB
JB
3 years 7 months ago
When I went primal about 2.5 years ago I often had the unwanted urge to shout it from the rooftops like I’d just found jesus or something. I found myself talking about it wayy too much at work. I could even see people go somewhere else while crazy guy talks but couldn’t stop. I hated that. I slowly learned to shut it off and avoid the topic when it comes up. I see most of my peers a couple times a year at compnay meetings. They all ask how but now most are amazed that I’ve been able to keep… Read more »
Tim
Tim
3 years 7 months ago
I have the same issue but for different reasons. See, I’m an artist and writer who’s employed as a software developer. Often I’ll kill time doing art on my white board and everyone says they enjoy the art but nobody talks to me about anything else (I don’t care about sports much and I have no interest in cars/machines) save an occasional conversation about the weather. So long story short: I’ve been here for six years, three of which I was obese and the last three of which I’ve slimmed down to nearly ripped (just a tiny tricycle tire remains)… Read more »
Ara
Ara
3 years 7 months ago

Hi Tim, you just can’t help people who want to follow their doctors orders, even if those solutions aren’t working. I’ve seen it over and over again. Lead by example. When this woman’s son hits rock bottom she’ll ask you…

Janine
Janine
3 years 7 months ago
I must say…that since I have been using a stand-up workstation, my core strength is really great and much superior to many of the other people (at a similiar fitness level) in my fitness class (which I discovered when they were all dying doing the stomach crunches and other core exercises and I was “meh”…no problem there!!) Just from having a standing workstation I can “out plank” almost any of my equal age and equal fitness colleagues!! I have also started having walking meetings with certain colleagues. In the good weather, we walk outside, just around the block. This is… Read more »
Nocona
Nocona
3 years 7 months ago
I got my little brother on the Primal Blueprint. He then held a competition at his work place to see who could lose the most weight. Everyone had to put in $50 bucks. My brother walked away with the money and all his co-workers wanted to know how he beat the crap outta all of them by a longshot. So he shared with them all how to do it. Most thought he was crazy for eating fat and said forget it (and of course these were fat people). Fortunately, a few are now on board, but my brother was just… Read more »
Debbie
Debbie
3 years 7 months ago
My partner’s made a real difference at the school where he works. He was running a couple of Kilometers in his lunch break to stay sane then some of the ‘bad kids’ started running with him (‘cos it was cool to be seen out with Mr Murray!), then some of the sports kids started up and this year, which has just started in NZ, some of the teachers have said they want to join him. Most of his enjoyment comes from seeing the ‘bad kids’ do something better than smoke behind the bike sheds at lunch time – and a… Read more »
Nancy
Nancy
3 years 7 months ago
When I’m not on the road doing software training, I work from home. I recently acquired a Trek Desk (you can search for them on Amazon.com or Google them). It fits over my treadmill at home and I walk at 1 mph/1% incline while I work. Yesterday I logged about 5 miles. I’m hoping to get to the point where I can easily spend an 8 hour + day walking and working, and hoping to maybe be able to increase both incline and speed just a bit as I become more accustomed to working in this manner. You adjust very… Read more »
Anon
3 years 7 months ago

When I worked in an office I would always walk on my lunch breaks. I would eat at my desk then take a walk as it would help digest my food and it allowed me to get outside.

I also used to chug a ton of water then go to the bathroom and do squats, wall push ups, lunges, etc to get my blood flowing.

mars
mars
3 years 7 months ago

“I also used to chug a ton of water then go to the bathroom and do squats, wall push ups, lunges, etc to get my blood flowing.”

+1 I do this too! I use the wheelchair access stall for more room and do jump squats, lunges and wall pushups 🙂

Heather
Heather
3 years 7 months ago

I asked about a standing workstation for my cubicle last year. I was told I had to have a medical reason to get one. (???) So, I have a lap tray I’m going to put my monitor on and I’m making something for my keyboard and mouse. I try to move around a lot (long hallways) but when I’m busy I’m glued to my desk. I can’t leave.

Cledbo
Cledbo
3 years 7 months ago

You need to tell your work a standing desk is meant to prevent medical problems!

Rozska
Rozska
3 years 7 months ago

Something I know people at the office do — the 11:00 stretch. They’ve set up a 5 minute meeting invite for everyone on the aisle. At 11:00, everyone stands up and stretches together, arms, legs, etc. A couple of people have also organized a 5 PM yoga class in one of the big conference rooms once a week.

FredS
FredS
3 years 7 months ago
People notice my weight loss and comment about it. That opens the door to how I did it and the health benefits I’ve reaped. And it progresses from there with the Primal/Paleo being brought up. They usually say something like I need to check it out. I work for a city (and most of them do too), so I ask for their work email (if I don’t know it already), telling them I will send them some links to the places I read almost every day (marksdailyapple.com being the first on the list, of course ;P) I just tell them… Read more »
Ellane
Ellane
3 years 7 months ago

Love the idea of plants in the office! I already have a standing work station that I alternate with sitting on a 75cm exercise ball, works great. What I really want is a treadmill to add to the setup. Don’t know if I’ll end up buying a Trekdesk or just make my own, but the idea is brilliant and they have proven that you can indeed walk all day and still be productive – likely much more so than just sitting.

Charlotte
3 years 7 months ago

Great article. A few months ago, I started using a pedal exerciser under my desk at work for an average of 3 hours a day. I’ve noticed that my concentration has improved greatly and so has my overall quality of work.

Paleo-curious
3 years 7 months ago

Could you give more details about this device? It might be just the ticket for me as a standing set-up is seemingly too much for my feet for long hours.

Bill C
Bill C
3 years 7 months ago

I think she means bicycle pedals. Just Google images “cycle desk”, “bicycle desk”, or “pedal desk”.

Paleo-curious
3 years 7 months ago

Thanks so much, Charlotte & Bill! I just ordered one! I’m so excited– I’m fidgety & hate sitting still for hours on end but my deadline work often makes it necessary. I can & do stand up for some of it but this will give me a wonderful new option!!

Fred Timm
Fred Timm
3 years 7 months ago

my wife’s problem:
She stands all day, then comes home and becomes horizontal in front of the TV.
So, my question is, too much standing? comments?

I have no problem (I try to stick to 80/20rule) I do yoga twice a week, and walk 1377 meters, and sprint 70.
I just had to punch a new hole in my belt,
I’ve gone from 211 lb down to 172 over the last few years.

Jen Marie
3 years 7 months ago
My workplace happens to be a kitchen. I have quite a different set of problems than those in an office setting. I’m a kitchen manager/”chef” at a bar and grill where there is plenty of movement, lifting heavy things, walking, etc, but I get to have food around me all day. Talk about self control (or lack thereof every so often on a bad day)! I constantly am watching my coworkers cram huge sandwiches and fried food in their mouths. Luckily, I can make myself whatever I want which usually involves the coworkers asking “so what weird concoction did Jen… Read more »
Denise
Denise
3 years 7 months ago

I have been walking on a treadmill desk for a year in my home office. Yesterday, while working, I walked at a slow pace-1.2 mph for 3.5 hrs. and burned an extra 300 calories…I am SO happy not sitting. Even if I am not walking I am standing for the whole workday. No sitting, no stiffness, no back pain! Here’s the TD I have: http://www.lifespanfitness.com…Changed my life and made my home office job doable!

Agustín
3 years 7 months ago

“Healthier” and “more productive” in the same sentence is quite rare…

Oliver
Oliver
3 years 7 months ago

Hey Mark

I was really interested in which if these suggests you follow yourself?

Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago
Just a note about the taxes. First, the usual disclaimer: This info maybe dated and the tax code is hideously complex, so look it up before acting on the info below and getting a nasty surprise. A sponsored gym membership is deductible to the company, but only in the way paying your wages are. From the point of view of the tax code, it’s simply salary paid in a slightly different form. Therefore, you, the worker, will be taxed (both payroll and income) taxes on it. It also means the business has to kick their share of the payroll taxes… Read more »
Jz
Jz
3 years 7 months ago

Oooh, oooh… Don’t forget the disc tossing session at lunch or break time!

Kim
Kim
3 years 7 months ago

I just got a standing desk this past week. My office chair broke and I figured I could get another chair that would annoy me, or pay a little more for the new desk.

Anyway…since I often listen to music while I work, I’ve found that I spend a lot of my day dancing while typing. Awesome! I should mention that I work from home where only the cats can see me. Probably less awesome to be dancing if I was in an office environment.

Han
Han
3 years 7 months ago

Myself and two colleagues have recently introduced Ladies’ Lunchtime Fitness Club. We spend the first 30 mins of our lunchbreak doing exercises in an empty meeting room (with the blinds down!). We do things that don’t require any equipment, such as squats, pushups, lunges, tricep dips, situps, Russian twists. Next week we will be getting on to the burpees and bastards! But yes, other colleagues that have seen us heading off to work out are becoming interested so hopefully it will catch on! We are certainly more productive in the afternoons now.

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