Our sedentary office jobs aren’t helping our health or lifestyles. Sitting at a desk all day limits our opportunities to gain incidental exercise. Research has shown that small amounts of exercise throughout the day is more beneficial than one long session once per day. There are opportunities to get some exercise without leaving your desk, so there's no excuse.
Problems Caused by Sitting all Day
Spending the majority of your working day sitting down can have long and short term health problems. You need strong leg and glute muscles to keep you stable on your feet and avoid injuries. By sitting for hours at a time, you aren’t using these muscles. Your hips flexors can also shorten, and your spine can degenerate prematurely from sitting too long. You are also likely to gain weight gain and are at risk of metabolic syndrome.
Stand Up to Work
Stand up desks have become popular in workplaces around Australia in recent years. Workers want to burn more calories by standing rather than sitting all day in a chair to do their work. By standing for one hour, you burn 50 calories more than sitting. Just a few hours of standing every day will add up to 750 calories per year.
Some desks provide the flexibility to choose to sit part of the day to give your legs a rest when you have had enough standing. If standing isn’t an option, try swapping your office chair for an exercise ball. Having to keep your balance on the ball will help improve your core muscles.
Exercises at your Desk
Try a few exercises at your desk to keep your body active throughout the day. Some of the exercises are so subtle that colleagues won't even know you are doing them while others aren’t but don’t let that stop you. Instead, encourage your workmates to join you in a quick exercise session. If you want to get serious, you can all keep a yoga mat under your desk which you can roll out and find your zen.
Shoulder blade squeezes
Reduce some of the tension in your shoulders by pretending you're holding a small object between your shoulder blades by squeezing them together for 10 seconds before releasing and repeating.
Raise your shoulders and hold for 5 seconds before releasing.
With arms out in front of you lower yourself onto your chair before quickly standing again.
Tricep Desk Dips
Stand with your back to your desk and place both hands at shoulder width length around the desk edge. Bend your arms then straighten keeping tension on your triceps muscles.
Working your abdomin can easily be done throughout the day from the comfort of your chair. Take a deep breath, tighten your abdominal muscles and hold for 5-10 seconds.
While sitting in your chair, extend one leg to a horizontal position, hold for a few seconds before lowering back to the starting position.
Move around the Office
You aren’t glued to your chair so find reasons to leave your desk occasionally. Rather than picking up the phone or sending an email, go and see a colleague at their desk.
Of course, during break times leave your desk and get your body moving. If you are going out of the building, take the stairs rather than the lift or escalator whenever possible.
During the day reward your productivity with a quick walk around the block to get your blood circulating and heart pumping so you are ready for another session of work.