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Let’s Stay Active At Work Before The Time Comes


Are you hesitant to move, even though it’s just a short distance away? Well, consider this: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a lack of physical activity is a contributing factor to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Engaging in physical activity not only promotes both physical and mental well-being but also lowers the risk of NCDs. In essence, if you neglect physical movement, you may be putting your health at risk.

The 2019 Malaysia National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) revealed that one in four Malaysian adults leads a sedentary lifestyle. A recent study conducted in the Klang Valley region among young employees found that 67.9% of respondents believed they engaged in at least minimal physical activity in their daily lives, yet 68.9% of them spent more than four hours sedentary at work.

How do you determine what’s minimal? According to the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity (GAPPA), an adult is considered physically active when they accumulate a total of 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Have you calculated how much physical activity you engaged in last week?

You may wonder how to incorporate physical activity into your leisure time, whether by heading to the gym for workout sessions or taking a leisurely walk with a partner in the park. However, maintaining an active lifestyle at work can be challenging. So, what can we do to stay active in the workplace?

Here are some tips to help you maintain an active routine at your workplace:

(1) Stretch Away Stress

Spending long hours at your desk, especially when you have demanding work, can lead to muscle stiffness, especially under pressure. Simple stretches from head to toe can help relieve tension from prolonged periods of inactivity and refresh your mind for better focus at work.

(2) Drive, Park, and Walk

Owning a private vehicle is not a problem, as most business centers and commercial areas offer public transportation and Park n Ride services. Take advantage of these facilities and start incorporating more walking into your daily routine.

(3) Move as a Group

The saying “two heads are better than one” holds true for motivation as well. Consider teaming up with a colleague during hours like lunch breaks or after work. You can walk to a nearby restaurant or station together, making it a social and active outing.

(4) Set Fit Watch Alarms or Use Wellness Apps

Allow yourself two short 15-minute breaks during the day. Use this time to do stretches, visit the pantry for a cup of tea, or take a quick walk. Approach each action with intention, even if you have to “fake it till you make it.”

The Malaysian government and local developers have initiated several plans aimed at sustainable community development, including improved public transportation, to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and promote healthier, more active lifestyles within the community. Additionally, the use of wellness digital devices and apps provides ample motivation for staying active in your daily life. Everything you need is readily available; your active involvement is what’s required.

An active lifestyle isn’t a luxury but a necessity. Remember, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Allocate time for active breaks to maintain good health and performance at work.

In conjunction with the International Day of Care and Support on 29 October, let’s look after ourselves and each other a bit more by staying active at work, before the time comes for others to take care of us. 


The authors are from the Department of Science and Technology Studies, Faculty of Science, Universiti Malaya.

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