Do you sit at your desk for long periods of the day? Have you ever experienced back, neck or shoulder pain after a long day at the office? Perhaps you put on a few pounds after taking a desk job. Research has shown that people who work desk jobs are likely to lose muscle tone, experience back pain, gain weight and suffer from increased stress. That’s because inactivity, poor posture and bad eating habits tend to plague those who sit at a desk throughout the day.
One study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) showed that those whose jobs require them to sit at least six hours a day are twice as likely to be overweight as those who sit for less than 45 minutes a day at work. So what can you do to stay fit but keep your desk job? Check out these tips.
- Take a 15-20 minute walk. Instead of a coffee break, take an exercise break twice a day. It will perk you up just as much as a cup of coffee, plus it will get your blood pumping. According to ACE, everyone should walk at least 10,000 steps a day. Consider using a pedometer to keep track of your activity throughout the day.
- Get out of your chair at least once an hour. Simply standing up while taking a phone call can give your body a needed break from sitting. Consider pacing your office or walking in place to re-energize your body.
- Rid yourself of excuses by being equipped. Keep an extra pair of tennis shoes and a rain jacket at your desk so you can go for a walk any time. Bring a small pair of leg weights and stow them under your desk to get even more out of your walks throughout the day.
Get the right equipment.
- Invest in a comfortable desk chair. Consider purchasing a specialized chair to foster back, spine and neck health. Or look into a unique alternative such as an exercise ball or kneeling chair to sit in for a portion of the day.
- Utilize ergonomic tools. There are numerous tools designed to help desk workers. Many of these, such as keyboards, wrist cushions, mouse pads, document holders and foot rests are inexpensive investments in your overall health. They can also help you avoid repetitive strain injury.
Protect your back.
- Sit up straight while working. You can passively work out muscles by sitting with proper posture and engaging your abs.
- Adjust your seat properly. Make sure you are sitting in your chair so your feet can rest flat on the floor. Adjust the lumbar support according to your height and shape.
- Do stretches at your desk. Place your hands behind your lower back while sitting up straight. Move your right ear toward your right shoulder and then slowly move your left ear toward your left shoulder. Then, look down at your desk while pulling in your stomach muscles and straighten your back. Then look up at the ceiling. These and other stretches can help protect your back during the work day.
Watch what goes in.
- Don’t snack on junk food. The office is often a great place to find free food and most of it is unhealthy. Another popular choice for snacks is the vending machine, usually stocked with high calorie products. Avoid these options by bringing healthy snacks such as fresh fruits and vegetables or fat-free popcorn to snack on when you feel hungry.
- Avoid sodas and coffee. Though you may crave the caffeine of a soda or coffee, other things come with it such as extra calories and sodium. Instead of reaching for one of these drinks, make water your choice. Bring a case of bottled water to keep at your desk if you don’t like water from the tap.
- Make healthy meal choices. Whether you’re bringing your lunch to work, grabbing fast food while running errands or going on an elaborate business lunch, make smart food choices. People tend to overlook what they eat during the workday, but each calorie you consume will ultimately impact your bottom line.
Making a conscious effort to stay active, developing good habits and watching what you eat can help you fight the desk-bound bulge. Try sharing these tips with your staff to encourage them to remember their health throughout the day.