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By now we're sure you've heard all the hype about having a sedentary lifestyle. It wasn't too long ago that people wanted an office job with a fancy title and business cards. Now it seems that these positions may be at least partially responsible for our nation's decline in health. If you are one of the millions of people stuck behind a desk for 40+ hours every week, this article is for you. Here are 10 ways you can stay fit at work if you have a desk job. Number 8 is a great way to build strength and raise money for a good cause.
Sitting too long is as dangerous to your health as smoking!
According to the CDC, prolonged sitting is associated with premature mortality, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. In contrast, those same studies show that simply breaking up the time you spend in a chair can lower or even reverse all these risks.
1. Use a standing desk
Obviously, the best way to break up a long day of sitting is by standing, but how can you stay productive? In an ideal situation, you would walk into your boss's office and ask for a standing desk. He would say, yes, and everyone would live forever. Some companies are already ahead of the game and offer these desks to their employees.
Other companies feel that the cost is too high. If you're able to move your computer and workspace to a taller area, you will burn more calories, increase circulation, and reduce disease risk. Standing while you work will help you stay fit with a desk job. There are also inexpensive products you can buy that will convert any workspace to a standing desk. This one will work with most desks, and it is easily adjustable for when you need a break.
2. Sit on an exercise ball
One of the biggest problems with sitting is the lack of movement in the core. Over time this can cause poor posture and reduced circulation. Sitting on a balance ball, also known as a yoga ball or exercise ball can help fix this problem.
When we sit on an exercise ball, our balance is immediately tested. This causes our core muscles to engage automatically. If you are stuck sitting at a desk for hours on end, think about buying a yoga ball to help you stay fit at work. This exercise ball is the right height for most desks.
3. Chair yoga to stay limber
Sometimes sitting at a desk all day can cause stiffness and fatigue. This is especially hard for people that need to use a computer all day. When we are hunched over a keyboard for hours, we might not realize just how tight our muscles and tendons are getting. Then we stand up and feel sharp pain shooting from our neck to our feet.
Chair yoga is a great way to fix this sedentary problem. You can get a good stretch at your desk without breaking a sweat. If you are in your own area or office, you can check out YouTube for some free chair yoga workouts. You can also purchase this book, At Office Yoga, by Julie Schoen and Little Pearl.
4. Meditate every day for lower stress
If you have ever felt stressed out, angry, or overwhelmed at work, you could benefit from a little meditation during your workday. Chronic stress is a real problem for people, especially people with chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
If you want to improve your health and stay fit with a desk job, think about taking a ten-minute break just to sit and breathe. Focussing on your breath will help you get back in the moment. More importantly, it will stop your brain from worrying and lower your stress levels. If you find it hard to focus in the beginning, you could try this app to help guide you through the process.
5. Walking meetings to increase your steps
This one might be tricky. In order for you to have walking meetings, you will have to get everyone else on board. The good news is that more and more studies show that walking during meetings is not only good for your health but great for business.
If you want to get your blood pumping, take your meetings on the go. According to Stanford, you can even boost your creativity, which can be great for the bottom line and your waistline. The best news about walking meetings is that it is easy to start and free to do.
6. Take the stairs
Here is another free way to stay fit at work if you have a desk job. Simply take the stairs. Why cram into a crowded elevator, when you can take the stairs? If you work in a very tall building, you may want to plan your time and your footwear appropriately. Other than that, it is an easy and effective way to burn fat and build muscle.
7. Pedal the pounds off
If sitting at a desk all day long is leaving you feeling tired and causing weight gain, you may want to consider using a mini exercise bike. They are made to be discrete enough to get work done and still deliver a great workout. If you prefer the elliptical machine they make those for under the desk too. Make sure that you get one that will keep track of your distance and speed. You will also want one that can adjust to different tension levels.
8. Use resistance bands while you work
Of all the different types of exercise a person can do at work, strength training is by far the most beneficial. When we sit all day long, our muscles start to give up and die. It's called atrophy, and it is a huge problem for our health. Strength training throughout the day can help reverse this problem. Another benefit of building muscle is the increase in your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day.
Keep a bag of resistance bands in your desk drawer to help you build muscle. Simply place one side of the band around the arm of your desk chair pull-up and out to work out your arms. You can place a band around your ankles, and practice sidesteps under your desk to build lower body strength.
If you decide to buy these ActiveDiabetics resistance bands, a portion of each sale will go to diabetes-related research and charities.
9. Make health a competition and a priority
If you really want to make the biggest impact on your health, you may want to include the whole office. Get all your co-workers on the road to health with friendly competitions. Who can do the most push-ups challenge? Try to get a team for a 5K fun-run or find a diabetes run and try to raise money while getting into shape as a group. This will not only help you stay fit at work if you have a desk job, but it will act as a team-building exercise too.
10. Have weekly salad bars instead of potlucks
Our last tip for staying fit and healthy at work when you have a desk job is to change your eating habits. Work functions like birthdays, celebrations, and Monday meetings often come with donuts, muffins, and cake. If you already have a sedentary work-life, adding tons of sugar and carbs into the mix is a deadly combo.
Next time you hear about a potluck, make the suggestion to have a salad bar instead. Maybe your lunch room needs a salad bar for employees to use. Someone can be in charge of dressings, others can bring in the fixings. Salads can be filling, tasty, and healthy. If you are tired of the same old unhealthy foods, chances are your co-workers are feeling the same way.
We don't always have a chance to work outside or get plenty of exercises, but we can make the best of what we do have. If you are stuck in an office all week long, you may need to think outside the box or cubicle. If you can find a way to get in more activity, your future self will thank you for it.
Let us know in the comments below if we forgot anything. What do you do for a living, and how do you stay active? Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for a growing community of health-conscious people.