Staying in shape with a desk job

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Why is this here?  Well, looking your best is in part finding clothes that fit. The other part is truly being fit. Living a healthy lifestyle plus dressing well is the ultimate combination. More about our trainer at the end of the post.

You swore you were never going to stop working out. But then you got a job that was supposed to be 9 to 5 and it turned out to be more like 7 to 6, or longer. Even worse than the hours, is the amount of time you spend sitting. Whatever the scenario, if you have found yourself struggling with staying in shape and think you just don’t have the time to work out then I have news for you: You can still do a lot for your health without logging hours at the gym.

Below are 10 little things you can do that add up to make a big difference.

1. Change your transportation

How far do you live from work? If you are within 2 miles, it’s reasonable to walk to work. 5-10 miles is a good distance for biking. Walking or biking to and from work gives you time to prepare for the work day as well as time to decompress from it. Studies show that walking and/or biking to work can help with weight management. What about clothes? If you”re worried about your clothes getting wrinkled, you can try leaving pressed garments at the office once a week, for the week. Carefully folding and placing clothes in a messenger bag is also a good option. What if I break a sweat? Well, that would be a good thing but an understandable concern given that you are headed to the office. Perhaps your building has a locker room? If not, make sure to keep deodorant and any other toiletry products in your bag or at your desk to make it easy to freshen up. If walking or biking to work is impossible, then at least do the next step…

Bike to work 2If biking or walking is an option, do it.

2. Park as far away as possible

Everywhere. Take the furthest parking spot away possible everywhere you go. That distance will add up over the day, month and year. Added bonus- your car will be less likely to end up with dings and scratches.

3. Wear a pedometer

10,000 steps are what you should be aiming for. Why? Walking 10,000 steps is roughly 30 minutes of activity. It’s also around 5 miles.

4. Get up to talk to a coworker instead of instant messaging or emailing them

Too many of us are guilty of hiding in our cubicles. But dodging social interaction with your coworkers could be hurting your health. Not to mention that social activity with another person is good for you! Make sure to get up and walk around your office or cubicle at least once an hour. If getting up to go talk to a coworker is too unreasonable, then use your breaks for walking (either around your floor of the building, or around the block).

5. Stretch

Finding yourself hunched over with your neck aching and your back curling? Every hour make a conscience effort to readjust. Stand up, pull your shoulders back and roll your head each way gently. Post a note on your computer that says, “Posture” as a reminder to sit up straight. If you can use a stability ball at work, that will help with your posture as well.

6. Take the stairs

Good for your legs, good for your heart. Do you know where the stairs are in your building? Find them. It’s reasonable to walk up to 10 flights or more. If you are on the top floor of a Sky Scraper, then take the elevator up to 10 flights under your office and hike up from there.

StairsA no brainer, just use them.

7. Do mini workouts at your desk

Try doing each of these exercises every 2 hours:

  • Squat Touches – Stand up in front of your chair (stabilize it if it has wheels), legs shoulder width apart, squat down until you tap your chair (as if you’re going to sit down) and quickly stand up straight again. Do this for one minute.
  • Calf Raises – Stand up and flex your calves. Try doing 20 standard calf raises (toes pointed forward), 20 duck calf raises (toes pointed slightly out) and 20 pigeon calf raises (toes pointed slightly in towards one another).
  • Push Up’s - Using your desk, brace the front or side of it with your palms and do 10-15 pushups.
  • Dip’s – Using a stable chair, fingers facing your toes, use your body weight to work your tri’s and shoulder’s. Do as many as you can until you reach fatigue. Aim for 15 to start.

If doing these exercises seems too conspicuous you can do the following without drawing attention to yourself:

  • Leg extensions – Bring one leg straight out in front of you while sitting. Point and flex your toe. Hold until you tire, or bend the leg and straighten for 15 repetitions. Repeat with your other leg. Try doing leg extensions every couple of hours.
  • Flex your abdominals – Concentrate on sitting up straight and flexing your core. This will also help with your posture. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat throughout the day.

8. Be mindful of what you eat

It is the most impactful thing you can do for weight maintenance. It’s true, you can do a million abdominal workouts, but if your diet is not clean you’ll never see those abs. Eating well can help with stress and promote a general sense of control and wellbeing in your life. Three easy ways to help you stay on track at work are:

  • Pack your lunch! It’s the best way to know exactly what and how much you are eating.
  • Keep healthy snacks at your desk so you don’t binge at the vending machine when you realize you are starving.
  • Keep a water bottle at your desk. Staying hydrated can help boost your metabolism, helps thwart fatigue and can improve cognitive function.

Healthy snacksBrown bag it, and keep it clean. Even that protein bar is a “treat”.

9. Sleep

What all of us know we should be getting and it is still one of the first things to go when life gets hectic. I know that I preform best when I get 9 hours of sleep. Others may not need as much. Make sure you are logging at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Making sure you get enough rest will help you stay alert, give you more energy, boost your metabolism and may help you stay more positive throughout the day to combat whatever your job throws your way.

Try doing all of the above or at least as many as you can to obtain better health. If you do not heed any of the above advice, the least you can do is:

10. Stand up

Seriously, I’m standing as I type this article. Sitting all day may be taking years off of your life. If you work at a place that gives you the option to use a stand up desk, that is your best bet!

Contributor Kelly Sturdy is a Certified Personal Trainer and Specialist in Fitness Nutrition. While not training her clients or competing in Bikini Class body building competitions, Kelly can be found in her organic garden, possibly talking to a chicken or two. For more of her articles, click here.

Top photo credit: Beth Rankin