The word exercise comes from the Latin exercere, meaning ‘to keep busy’ or ‘at work’.
Unfortunately, the majority of the working population today is chained to a desk 9am-5pm, commutes to and fro sitting down, and spends an evening in front of a television, and hardly finds time to get to the gym amid family responsibilities. This is a recipe for disaster!
It is a well-known fact that sitting all day increases your risk of obesity, bad posture, tense muscles, stiff joints, back pain and cramps, not to mention absolute boredom.
We aren’t structured to be sitting for such long periods of time, and when we do that, our body goes into ‘shutdown’, meaning your muscles are not contracting, and because the major muscles aren’t moving, metabolism slows down.
Factual evidence reveals how detrimental a sedentary lifestyle is, and how beneficial exercise on a regular basis is. Exercise is simply the act of keeping your body busy, using your muscles and bones while your heart keeps pumping. You may feel you have no time to do any such thing amid all the phone calls, emails, meetings and chaos at work, but you are not alone, and there are ways that you can keep your body moving while working long office hours.
Even if your workplace doesn’t engage in routine hourly breaks, there are things you can do, at and away from your desk, to break up a day of inactivity and get moving, even if just for a few minutes.
- Get up from your desk at least every hour, and walk down the hallway as fast as you can. Walks to the vending machine don’t count.
- Take the stairs, 2 at a time, instead of the elevator.
- Park in the furthest corner of the parking lot to get a longer walk to your desk.
- Get up from your desk and go talk to your co-workers instead of emailing them.
- Feeling tired around midday? Sitting compresses the diaphragm, and if you don’t adjust your posture while you sit, you take in less oxygen with each breath. Sit tall and extending one arm towards the ceiling, inhale. Once you reach as far as you can, maintain the reach and slowly exhale, sending your hip and thigh down into your chair. Repeat 2 times on each side. This helps to release tension in your diaphragm.
- Swop your desk chair for a stability ball for 30 minutes a day. Because you’ll have no chair-back to slouch on, you’ll have a constant reminder to sit up straight, forcing you to work your core muscles and improving your posture.
- Grab a few colleagues at lunchtime and take a brisk walk around the block.
- Stretch to relieve tension.
Try the following exercises at your desk; if you feel shy, find an empty boardroom where you can work out in private.
- Sitting in your chair, lift one leg off the seat, extend it out straight, hold for 2 seconds; then lower your foot (don’t touch the floor) and hold for several seconds. Switch, do each leg 15 times.
- Standing, put your hands on the desk. Walk backwards, then do push-ups against the desk. Repeat 15 times.
- Sit facing forward, then turn your head to the left and your torso to the right, and hold a few seconds (think corkscrew). Repeat 15 times, alternating sides.
- In our booty-conscious world, tights buns are mandatory. Tighten your buttocks, hold and then relax. Repeat 15 times.
- Try ab squeezes. Tighten your tummy, hold and release. Repeat 15 times.
- Shadow box. While seated, look up and punch your fists in the air for 30 seconds.
- Imagine jumping rope by hopping up and down.
- Try tricep dips on your chair. First, secure the chair against a wall, then dip away.
Lastly, don’t let the fear of embarrassment keep you from exercising at work. Chances are that your colleagues will admire your efforts and join you! Most of all, don’t be lazy!