Working While Moving - Tips From Our Expert, Regina Dawkins

We are lucky to have access to more than one desk treadmill in our workplace. It has become second nature for several of us to walk while working. While It may even seem counter intuitive or strange, anyone can do it by following a few basic tips. In addition, walking at least 20 minutes a day comes with a variety of health benefits. Building up your eye, hand coordination and finding your ideal walking pace at a desk treadmill is imperative. Here are a few basic tips from our expert and super walker Regina Dawkins which will get you started:

-          Start off walking casually at a 1.5 to 2.0 speed, or a select a pace that feels comfortable for you. Keep your strides short and relaxed.

-          Try typing on your keyboard and moving your mouse around. If your hands are little shaky or wobbly, adjust by reducing your speed. Over time as your hands become steady, increase your walking speed.

-          Ensure the desk treadmill is adjusted to your height by checking to see if your bent elbows are perpendicular to the countertop while easily resting on the countertop. Your shoulders should be relaxed.

-          For stability and support while typing, rest your forearms on the countertop.

-          Have a straight body with good posture. Make sure your hips and shoulders are square and facing the countertop at all times. See Regina's great posture, below!

-          Wear comfortable, flat shoes, preferably athletic shoes, that have good traction.

There are great health benefits to walking. It is one of the greatest low-impact cardio exercises, enhancing the level of HDL (good) cholesterol, curbing the production of LDL (bad) cholesterol and it can even lower the risk of cardiovascular problems. If you sit at a desk for hours at a stretch, walk breaks keep your blood circulating and help promote a less sedentary work day. If you wear a fitness tracker, it helps to meet your daily step goals. You may also feel a sense of accomplishment by getting multiple things checked off your list of to dos for the day. It has become a daily routine for many of us and can be for you too!


Get up and get moving!

Like most office jobs our roles are very sedentary.  It would be easy to spend the full day at our desks and even walking to the printer and the rest room and the break room does not add up to many steps.  We do care about the team’s health. Our office has two treadmill desks, which have shown some of us are better at walking while typing than others!  We also have a standing desk, balls instead of chairs, and each new employee gets a Fitbit.  We encourage people to stay healthy and get their steps in.    Northern California is an area with wonderful weather, usually, and many of us take a walk around the block at some point in the day.  We’ve had the chance to meet Bill as he’s on his daily walk, he’s the most energetic 95 year old ever!  Sometimes we see our letter carrier, kids and parents walking home from the nearby school, or the couple who watch their preschool grandchild during the day. We’re anxiously awaiting the opening of a nearby coffee shop too! 

Our office is in an interesting area, commercial on one side and residential on the other.  The walks give us a chance to know the neighborhood and nearby residents better.  Also, importantly, research shows getting up and getting exercise, improves your productivity at work, your overall health, and reduces stress. Not only all that, a study from the Journal of Neurology shows exercise slows brain aging by 10 years!  Read the article here. Just as we encourage our employees to get up and get moving we encourage you to do so as well.  Take a few more steps next week than last!

Pokémon Go has benefits for us

Pokeman Go
Pokeman Go

You’ve probably heard of it.  Pokémon Go is all the rage.  For those of you not familiar with it, the game allows players to interact with virtual Pokémon as if they are in the real environment. When you find one, the game opens up your phone's camera and you flick a Poké Ball toward the creature to capture it. The game has added billions, yes billions, of dollars to Nintendo’s valuation. It’s not without controversy.  Intent on the game, people have fallen or walked into things.  There has been criticism of the use of certain graveyards and memorials as part of the game, and even reports of crime as people were lured with the thought of Pokémon and then robbed.

For us it has been beneficial.  The game gets people up and walking and if you know Referential you know we value health and encourage exercise.  The part of our team that usually walks the least is now up and about at lunch and breaks.  Not only are they getting steps, they are having fun together.  And those of us who don’t play are enjoying it.  We’re learning the lingo and watching the friendly competition as folks move through the stages.  Who knew a game would have such impact on health and camaraderie!

August Step Challenge

Although large employers have been expanding wellness programs in recent years, small businesses have not. As small businesses employ nearly 50% of all private-sector workers, any expansion of wellness and prevention programs can really be beneficial. We are doing our part and even have someone designated as our Wellness Officer. With this in mind here at Referential we have kicked off an August step challenge. Armed with our Fitbits and Jawbones everyone has committed to an average of either 7, 10, or 15 thousand steps a day for the month.   And if we all meet the challenge we will be treated to a nice team lunch.   And it will be a healthy lunch!

Often small groups will take a walk or a slower saunter around the block once or twice a day. We make good use of our treadmill desks and are encouraging walking, rather than sitting, meetings where appropriate. Meet a friend for a walk, instead of lunch, on the weekend.   Those of us with dogs are taking them a bit farther each day. I’m sure there will be lots of creative ideas this month and I hope to see us all meet the challenge!

2,000,000 steps and counting!

FitbitWe’ve been wearing our Fitbits and counting our steps.  We created a company group and as a team we have exceeded 2,000,000 steps for the month.  The contribution to that total did vary somewhat.  Two people consistently exceed 10,000 steps per day – sometimes get closer to 20,000 steps.  And then there are those that don’t consistently wear their tracker or who’s exercise isn’t the type to add steps- like the heavy duty core workout favored by one.  Whether at the low end or the high end of our step total, we have seen everyone more active than they were before.  The Fitbits were a great investment in terms of getting people up and moving more, which is great for health, but also have been great for team building.  We’ve compared step totals, talked about fitness, collected just about every color of band, and there’s been some teasing now and again too!  Fun and healthy, what more could want from a team reward for a job well done!

Have you done 10,000 steps today?

Yesterday Fitbits for the team arrived.  Many office workers, us included, have very sedentary jobs.  We try to get out and do a quick walk each day and thought Fitbits for all would be a good reward for a great quarter as well as an incentive to get moving.  Fitbits will track steps, distance, calories burned, how many minutes you’re truly active and even monitor your sleep.  They are motivational.  There’s quite a race among us to be the first to get to 10,000 steps today! There are many choices for wearable activity trackers and we did research to narrow down our choices.  In the end key factors were wristband size and phone support.  We have two folks with very large wrists, the device had to fit.  And we needed Android support.  Luckily we were also able to accommodate someone’s strong desire for a pretty color too!

There’s a huge range of normal activity levels between us.  We haven’t yet figured out how to best structure some sort of competition.  But we’re monitoring away and being more active than before.  While more activity is the goal, the fun we’re having as a team with this is a great side benefit.

Couldn't have chosen a better location

It’s hard to believe but we moved into our offices a full year ago.  We knew the location was good, but didn’t know how nice it would be.  We focused our office search on Campbell as most of us live nearby.  Besides an easy commute, it’s a short walk to a grocery store, our bank, an office supply store, several restaurants, and not one but our choice of two Starbucks!  We’re right across the street from Ebay and have walked over to the food trucks parked on the nearby street on more than one occasion.  Finally the Los Gatos Creek Trail is just up the road, a nearly 10 mile paved path great for walkers, runners, and bikers.  We try to get out on the path for a 30 minute walk mid-day, so much better than sitting at our desks for a full day. We’ve had the space to easily accommodate our growing team and a wonderful location.  If you’re in the Bay Area stop by for a visit!

13.1 miles later, still smiling!

Over 16,000 people lined up Sunday for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon.  One was our very own David Feber!  Congratulations David, it takes a lot of time and commitment to train for 13.1 miles.  It’s quite an accomplishment, we’re very proud.  With bands, local cheer teams, and tons of residents lining the course it was a morning full of energy and excitement.   David was cheered on by others from Referential, Inc.  and completed the race with his daughter.  The photo is from the finish line.Half Marathon finish, still smiling!  Maybe next year we’ll join him, could be quite the company team building quest!

Helen gets the boot, literally

Helen's bootWell one of our finest is in a boot. She was injured while clearing debris for fire safety at her home and will be in this thing for several weeks. Here's to hoping her bones heal quickly! For now no more afternoon walks for Helen. Not only are we across the street from Ebay but the City of Campbell has a great walking trail very nearby. Miles of paved path, largely level. It's a very popular area for groups like Team in Training to hold practices on the weekend. Knowing we sit way too much all day many of us regularly walk after work or even run in the mornings. What healthy habits does your workplace encourage?