How to Stay Fit with a Desk Job
Let’s get real: sitting at a desk sucks.
It sucks the life out of you. It sucks energy. It just plain old SUCKS.
Are you doing it right now while you’re reading this? Tsk tsk…. Let’s fix that, shall we?
Sitting can affect your posture, create muscle imbalances, create a bigger wardrobe, and if you spend enough time sitting you usually just keep doing it …
Sometimes it’s on the couch in front of the TV or in a recliner with a good book, but often it’s at work…in your tiny cubicle, at your boring desk. We feel your pain.
It’s tough to pin down the exact number of desk workers, but a recent occupational physical activity study found that less than 20% of jobs in the private industry require moderate activity. Just to give you some perspective: in the 1960s, that number was almost 50%!
If you’re one of those poor souls stuck in a chair all day, don’t panic – you can still stay fit with a desk job. No, scratch that, fit friend, you will stay fit, and we’re going to give you what you need to make it happen.
Step Away From the Desk
You’re not chained to your desk so don’t act like it (if you are, comment in morse code below and we’ll send help.)
It’s totally okay to get up and move around during the day, regardless of how much work you’re slammed with—unless you’re on a final for not staying at your desk enough—you should skip this part and go to the next section, you rebel, you.
Set a timer for 30 to 60 minutes. Every time it goes off, do a quick lap around the office. Gets your blood flowing and if you do it long enough, it will become a habit. A good one, indeed.
Think Inside the Box
If walking just isn’t enough, start subbing in bodyweight exercises like pushups and squats. You’re probably going to be the topic at the water cooler, but at least it’ll help keep your muscles active during the work day.
If you’re too shy to drop and give em’ 20, get some exercise bands. Put them around your knees and do some resistance exercises. Grab them while you’re on the conference call and step on the middle and get some bi, tri and shoulder exercises in. Stretch them outward like you’re Mufasa showing Simba his vast lands to hit the chest.
And hey while you’re caring for your body—maybe you’ll inspire others. Go you.
Sit Your Bum on a Ball
Don’t be embarrassed to bring in a big ol’ exercise ball to work. When you sit on it, your back will instantly straighten to balance. Also, while you move during the day, your muscles will adjust with your body, movement you would otherwise not have if you’re slumped like finely fed zombie in your chair. Bonus—tighten your core for a few minutes every hour to get exercise in without stepping out.
Get a Standing Desk
There are inexpensive options to turn your sitting desk into a standing desk. You can buy an apparatus that can unfold and turn your cubicle into your standing grounds. Sitting for long periods affects blood flow and increases risks for blood clots, so if you can’t walk on lunch, stand and type!
Wear a Pedometer
With the meteoric rise of fitness trackers, wearing a pedometer isn’t that goofy anymore. And heck, if you don’t want to buy one – just use your phone. Set a goal of 5,000 to 10,000 steps per day and do your best to hit it. Most phones will send you a gentle nudge like “HEY—It’s been 50 minutes, GET UP! You won’t get the butt you want by sitting on it!! ” Or, well, something like that. You get the pic. Now get some motivation from that phone.
Take the Hard Route
There’s only so much you can do at your desk to stay fit. But away from it? The sky’s the limit. With a little effort, you can push yourself towards more active options of daily activities. Try these:
- Make yourself walk more by parking as far away from your building as you can. It’ll seem like a great idea in the morning and once you make the decision, you’re stuck with it.
- You have a new enemy: the elevator. Don’t give it any satisfaction. Get your legs working and your heart pumping by always taking the stairs. S.T.A.I.R.S—yes, they still exist and they are calling your name.
Go Long at Lunch
If you can take a longer lunch break, just do it. Don’t fight it. You can use an extended lunch break to go for a walk in the beautiful outdoors, or if you’re close to a gym or have a facility where you work, you can even sneak a short workout in.
Focus on Weak Points
Finally, keep working on the weak points when you’re off work. Being desk-bound wreaks havoc on two big areas: your upper back and your hip complex. Hunching forward staring at a computer screen pulls your upper back and head forward, while sitting in a chair bunches your hips up, creating tightness in your hip flexors and inhibiting your glutes.
It sounds bad, but both areas are easy to target in the gym. Clear the upper back stiffness with thoracic spine stretches and give your hips some love with hip flexor stretches. As for your booty, embrace hip-based exercises like deadlifts and hip thrusts.
Don’t Just Sit, Get Fit
So now that you know the secrets, you have no excuses. What was that?
*NO EXCUSES, SIR!* That’s right.
Take advantage of these tips for a month and before you know it you’ll have a line of co-workers at your desk either asking for tips or taking pics. Yeah, baby-paparazzi–you’re famous, now.
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