If you work in an office, sitting at a desk all day, then like thousands of others in your position, you are not getting enough exercise throughout the day.
Every year fit and healthy young graduates and school leavers start their first job in an office, taking their first step on the corporate ladder, brimming with enthusiasm as they finally start the career they have been working towards for their academic life.
However, for many, a year down the line, they are no longer the slim, healthy and fit individual that they started out as. In fact, many people start to look more like David Brent after a few years of number crunching, administration or coding.
Why Do Office Workers Get So Fat?
People that do not work in an office environment are often surprised at how quickly people get out of shape. It is a sad fact that for most people, working is a very unhealthy way to spend the day. The average office worker is expected to work at least 7 hours a day, although many temps and contractors work much more than this. Most of this time is sitting down at a desk. Once you add up the time spent sleeping, eating, sitting on a train commuting, or sitting in front of the television in the evening, the average office worker spends about 20 hours every day completely inactive.
Many people either skip lunch, eating at their desks. Some even have car parks in the basement of their office building, and take a lift to their floor. Few take advantage of the corporate gym membership. Many large offices, especially in the banking sector, have their own restaurants. All of this increases inactivity, and slowly the waist line expands.
IT contractors are sometimes the worse for putting on weight. Many people that work in IT are avid computer users, and after spending a day in the office at their desks, they go home to their home pc and continue developing, surfing the net or playing games with friends. For many the only time that their heart rate increases in when there is a security breach on their server, or their World of Warcraft character gets ganked.
How to Stay in Shape in the Office
Quick tips, these will be expanded upon in future articles:
Take the stairs – many people rely too heavily on elevators, even when they only work on the first or second floor. If this is you, then walk up the stairs. If you do not need take the stairs, then you can still use them as part of your office fitness plan. Once every hour, get up, and take a stroll. Grab a piece of paper, people will think that you are on important businesses. Avoid walking to the canteen though.
Stress Balls – Simple but effective. Squeeze a stress ball repeatedly for a minute in each hand. Aim to form a tight fist each time. This will increase forearm strength and joint strength in the hands. Gets the blood flowing too, good for heavy keyboard users.
Water – Water is the best thing to drink throughout the day – avoid those sugar drinks. Do not fill a large bottle each day, instead use a glass, and walk to the water fountain whenever you need a refill.
Aeroplane exercise! – If you have travelled on an aeroplane, then the air stewards may have demonstrated some simple exercises to aid circulation. These can of course also be done while at your desk. So if you cannot leave your desk to stretch your legs, perform some ankle circles and stretches. Simple, but gets the blood flowing.
1. Ankle Circles
Lift feet off the floor. Draw a circle with the toes, simultaneously moving one foot clockwise and the other foot counter-clockwise. Reverse circles. Rotate in each direction for 15 seconds. Alternatively, write each letter of the alphabet with your big toe. This increases the range of motion and strengthens the joint.
2. Foot Pumps
- Start with both heels on the floor and point feet upward as high as you can.
- Put both feet flat on the floor.
- Lift heels high, keeping balls of feet on the floor.
- Repeat these three stages in a continuous motion and in 30-second intervals.
3. Knee Lifts
- Lift leg with knee bent while contracting your thigh muscle. Alternate legs. Repeat 20 to 30 times for each leg.
4. Neck Roll
- With shoulders relaxed, drop ear to shoulder and gently roll neck forward and back, holding each position about five seconds. Repeat five times.
5. Knee to Chest
- Bend forward slightly. Clasp hands around the left knee and hug it to your chest. Hold stretch for 15 seconds. Keeping hands around the knee, slowly let it down. Alternate legs. Repeat 10 times.
6. Forward Flex
- With both feet on the floor and stomach held in, slowly bend forward and walk your hands down the front of your legs toward your ankles. Hold stretch for 15 seconds and slowly sit back up.
7. Shoulder Roll
- Hunch shoulders forward, then upward, then backward, and downward, using a gentle circular motion.