With an eight-hour workday and two-hour commute, by the time I get home, I want a big dose of reality TV, not a five-mile run. The majority of us working Americans spend more awake hours at the office than at home, leaving us very little time and energy to focus on our fitness. Lifestyle choices such as poor nutrition and lack of exercise compete with tobacco as the number one cause of preventable death in the United States. Our busy schedules and deskbound lifestyles can be a deadly combination—literally.
While biking or walking to the office, opting for the stairs, and using your lunch break to power-walk around the block are the most common stay-fit-at-work tips, there is a lot more you can do to maintain and improve your overall health while at the office. Some companies are including programs like yoga at lunch, treadmill desks, and weight-loss competitions to inspire a healthy office environment. Studies show that an active, healthy body helps employees stay mentally energized, stress free, and happy. The University of California has even developed an entire workout series dedicated to workout routines to stay fit at the office—deskercise. Tired of feeling like a lazy lump, I got moving to discover the best ways to stay fit during the nine to five.
Workplace Wellness Programs
Contact human resources to see what discounts your health insurance provides on diet and exercise programs. Insurance companies love healthy clients because in the long run, it saves them money. Generally, even if it’s not heavily advertised, most company policies do offer wellness programs. If this is not the case, rally your coworkers and ask if the office can help sponsor a program like Weight Watchers, gym access, or group exercise classes during lunch. Healthier employees mean more productive employees—music to the bosses’ ears.
Touch the Sky
Stretching is critical to release muscle tension and prevent aches and pains. Some basic stretches you can do right from your seat include:
- Arms: Sit straight at your desk and raise both arms over your head and reach high. Count to ten. Raise the right higher, then the left.
- Shoulders: Sit upright and inhale while you lift your left shoulder to your ear. Exhale as you lower and circle your shoulder around and back. Repeat three times alternating left and right.
- Neck: Try this yoga posture to relieve tension: Sit facing forward, then turn your head to the left and your torso to the right, and hold a few seconds. Repeat fifteen times, alternating sides.
- Back: Cross your arms over your chest and reach for your shoulder blades. Reach as far as you can, hold for fifteen seconds and release.
- Legs: Push your chair away from your desk and put your left heel up on the desk. Sit up straight, and bend forward just until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your leg. Flex your foot for a few seconds, and then point it, hold for ten seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Attention Core! Attention Buns!
Keep your core muscle active by doing leg lifts. While seated straight at your desk, lift your legs to a ninety degree angle. Hold for five seconds, release and repeat. Keep repeating until you feel the burn (and trust me you will; I just tried it, ouch!). Also, tighten your buns, hold for five seconds and release—try these for a few weeks and you’ll be on your way to a tighter lower half.
Be Fit While You Sit
Work your abs and back by bringing an exercise ball to work and using it as a seat for a few hours a day. While sitting on the ball your body is constantly engaged and making adjustments to your gluts, legs, abdominal, and postural muscles—much more active then slouching over your keyboard on a chair.
Keep Exercise Equipment at Your Desk
Keep resistance bands or hand weights within reach of your desk. Do bicep curls and tricep lifts between meetings or tasks. Yes, your coworkers might look at you funny, but your ripped arms will speak for themselves.
You Are What You Eat
We know to opt for apples over Ruffles and cucumbers over cookies, but when stressed or strapped for time, basic nutrition is one of the first things we kick to the curb. Make healthy eating a habit by planning ahead and stocking your desk and office refrigerator with healthy snacks. Avoid complex carbs and sugars and opt for fresh fruit and nuts for all-day-long energy. I always keep a piece of fruit within arm’s distance to stave off the mid-day munchies.
OD on H20
The majority of Americans do not drink enough water. Oftentimes, we mistakenly identify dehydration as hunger. Getting up to fill your cup not only gives your body a chance to move, but it also keeps you hydrated and focused.
Create a Community
The best way to reach your fitness goals—whether at work or at home—is to enlist the help of those around you. Round up coworkers for an afternoon walk, a healthy lunch pot-luck, and group fitness classes. Whenever possible, conduct meetings and brainstorming sessions on the go. Instead of emailing, create an office culture where you walk over to get answers. This will not only tighten your buns, but your relationships, too.
While a more intense cardio and fitness routine is necessary for serious weight-loss, getting your heart pumping and legs moving will keep your body and mind active all day long.