I got asked by a reader if I could provide some exercise tips for people whose job involves sitting in front of the desk all day long. I understand that most jobs contribute to a sedentary way of life but there are some things you could do in order to be more active in spite of your work
First of all I want to share with you a story I read some time ago.It is about a Dutch study where researchers created a historical theme park and gathered actors to play 1850s Australian settlers for a week. So for the next week they did everything that our ancestors did-from cutting trees to planting. Their activity levels were compared to those of modern office workers. It turned out that 160years ago people did the equivalent of walking 3 to 8 miles more every single day than what office workers do today. And the paradox is that with the unhealthy life we lead today-full of fast food and other processed food, probably we would need that activity much more than they needed it in the 1800s.
But the reality is that most of us spend their whole day sitting, so I will start by trying to put some light on the fact what sitting does to your body and then I will provide you with some tips that will possibly help you move more. But before that let’s have a quick anatomy lesson. Your muscles are covered by a tough connective tissue that is called fascia. Unfortunately the fascia sets in the position that your muscles tend to be most often. So in our case, when you sit for a long time, your fascia will adapt to this position. That causes a lot of stiffness in your muscles, and leads to imbalanced posture and a lot of pain. Besides that when you are sitting your hips and thighs are bend and that leads to the shortening of your hip flexors. And the more you sit the more they will shorten! And if you are not scared for your health yet, I won’t stop here! Let’s move on to the glutes(the muscles on your butt). These are the largest muscle group. When you sit too much, they let’s say it become inactive and weak. Weak glutes in combination with tight hip flexors force your pelvis to go forward. And guess what? All that reflects on the lumbar spine– and that is where that terrible lower-back pain comes from!
So what could you do to prevent this happening to you? First of all, you should get up every hour and do some stretching!Here are some
Next you should think about a more active way of life.Let’s first start with the easiest things you could change and thus increase your activity:
1.The easiest thing to do is instead of taking the elevator- go ahead and take the stairs. It doesn’t sound like too much but believe me it makes a lot of difference. It really hurts my feelings when I am at the University, and I see somebody taking the elevator to the second floor.Please, don’t do it!
2.If you go to work by car- park it a little further from the building and walk a little more.
3.Deliver documents or messages to co- workers in person rather than by e-mail. It is not a big activity, but when you sit on a chair the whole day, standing up every one or two hours is really important.
4.After work, instead of grabbing some junk food and sitting on the couch the whole night watching TV shows, call a friend and meet up in the park. Have one hour walk and a nice chat with them. I know that after a heavy day at the office, physical activity seems like the hardest thing to do, but give it a chance- it will make you feel so much better. People are meant to spend their time among the nature-not prisoned by walls.
Now after I suggested the easiest changes you could make I am gonna become more specific. Either you think you do not have time to workout when you are busy with work, or not, I am going to persuade you that you just do not know how to do it or worse you are not willing to do it!
There is a workout called Tabata. The basis of Tabata training is 4 minutes of intense interval training. What you are doing is taking an exercise, let’s say squats. What you do is squat as hard as you can for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds You repeat this for eight intervals. It takes only four minutes but it is pretty good to pump up your blood. You could do it with every single exercise– thrusters, push ups, pull ups, sprints and so on. What do you think now? Don’t tell me you don’t have four minutes to workout!!! You could even do it a couple times a day- once in the morning, in your lunch time and after work. That adds up to 12 minutes of intensive working out and I assure you that you will feel the difference! And here is a Tabata clock.
For the people that are a little more extreme I will give another idea. It may seem crazy but it is a way to have some fun in the office and workout a little bit. This is an exercise I read about in another blog. It is called a desk chair thruster. What you do is grab the armsets and bring the chair overhead. Drop in a squat position and do a thruster. Sounds funny but I’ve done it in a hotel room while I was on a vacation and it works out pretty good.
Another exercise could be to look around for a box. Use it to do some deadlifts. You could also do some push ups, some squats and of course let’s not forget about the burpees. Simple and easy exercises that need only your body weight.
And last but not least, I will give you a couple workouts that are fast and that could be done before and after work.
10 push ups
10 sit ups
10 walking lunges
30 sit ups
For people that want challenges not only at work but also at home try a hundred burpees for time. It is a lot of fun! I could go on like this forever but I will stop. If you want more workouts just write me and I will give you tons.