Are you feeling the burn of sitting all day and wondering how to stay in shape at a desk job? While at the gym while using the elliptical, I recently I read an article about this. For the life of me I can’t find the same article online but I did find a similar one from Health magazine titled “Is your Desk Job Bad for Your Health?”
The article was about health ailments that can come from that inactivity. Despite spending an hour or two at the gym after work – that won’t make up for the sedentary lifestyle many of us lead during the day. In fact, that lifestyle could put some at a higher risk for Type II diabetes, according to the article.
Stay in Shape
Sitting at a Desk
Right now my work life ebbs and flows. Some days I’m out and about, other days not so much. Either way, on average, I still spend at least a half to three-quarters of my work day at a desk and behind a computer. There are some days I find myself restless from sitting. My low back becomes achey. I also notice I’m hunching my shoulders. I strive to work out on my work days – and in general about five days per week. But I don’t always hit the mark
Standing While Working
I’ve also been on the other side of the coin. My first job kept me standing for four to eight hour shifts. When I was walking around my feet became used to it. But if I was standing in one place I also became restless. When I stood for most of the day I do think I burned more calories, but it was also difficult on my body. I remember having low back aches then and hurting feet and I was much younger at the time. I had these same pains a few years ago when I took a retail job.
Standing and Sitting While Working
The best combination, for me personally, is a job that entails a combination of both standing, sitting and walking. But being I’m a writer the reality is most of my day will continue to be spent sitting behind a computer. I try to do my best to stay in shape while at the desk. Because I work from home I do try to mix up my day and movement with tossing in a load of laundry, watering the plants, getting the mail or other small tasks but when I’m on a hard deadline I often find myself glued to my desk.
How to Stay in Shape at Your Desk Job
Regardless of what type of job you have if you do any sitting for work or at home, there are some ways you can stay in shape and active while at your desk. Even if you have a job where you are standing, you may find yourself sitting a lot in the evenings or on the weekends. We all have bills to pay, grocery lists to make and other tasks that frequently require sitting.
These tips are meant to facilitate not only movement during the day but also health. Each tip is simple and short. Try implementing one, or more, of these tactics and see if they improve your health. If the list is too overwhelming, try making one change at a time.
- Keep Moving. Get up every 30 to 90 minutes and move. You might even find the break makes you a better worker and keeps blood flowing. It could be a quick walk around the office or a trip to the water cooler. If you work from home, take a break and walk your dog around the block. If you forget to get up you can set a timer on your computer or phone to help remind you to get up and move a bit.
- Stay Hydrated. Why not? There is no reason to not be getting your 64 ounces (give or take) while at your desk. I have a glass Lifefactory bottle and have found it to be durable and stylish. Most experts say to try to drink half of your body weight in ounces, per day, to stay hydrated. Add lemon or fresh cut fruit to your water to add flavor, or try kombucha.
- Try to Eat Healthy. Pack healthful snacks to eat at work, and do your best to avoid the baked goods and candy office mates tend to bring in, especially around the holidays. Pack your lunch instead of eating out and you will likely eat healthier and save money, too. If you are frequently hungry, pack a lunch along with a mid-morning snack and perhaps a mid-afternoon snack.
- Take Standing Breaks. Sometimes I have to file papers or make phone calls. I stand up and burn a few more calories when I do these activities. Some people also use a standing desk. I have tried this and found my feet hurt if I stood for too long (see above). Another idea is to sit on an exercise ball, which I found did help me move a bit more and is good for stretching. Experiment with standing breaks to see if they make you feel better.
- Stretch Frequently. During those breaks throughout the day I will try to stretch. I notice my hamstrings and hip flexors become especially tight while sitting. I also sometimes try to massage my shoulders and neck area where I find I tense up. There are many guides online that offer stretching tips for office workers in particular.
- Park Far Away. Get some extra steps in by parking far away from your office door. I practice this same tactic when I run errands. If you drive to off-site meetings for work, do the same upon arrival. By parking far away, I also have noticed an added bonus, I receive fewer of those pesky door dings from other drivers!
Sitting at a desk for work does not have to be a detriment to your health. While it’s true that a lot has changed in our society and many workers find themselves using a desk and computer in order to do their jobs – there are still ways to stay in shape while working at a desk.
Even if you have been sitting at a desk job for many years, these simple tips can help jumpstart your health and put you on a path that includes greater activity, increased movement and mindfulness during the work day.
Do you have an office job? How do you stay in shape at your desk job?
*This post was originally published in 2010 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.