There has been a dramatic increase in obesity over the past 20 years. Increases in America’s gross national product have also resulted in increases in America’s gross weight. Research conducted at Louisiana State University showed that in the 1960s, moderate physical activity was required in almost half of U.S. private industry jobs. Over the past 50 years, the percentage of jobs requiring moderate activity slipped to 20%.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, and this number continues to grow. It is predicted that by 2030, 42% of Americans will be obese and 11% will be severely obese. This increase in our “bottom line” can be attributed to any number of factors including a reliance on processed foods, a dependence on automobiles, and a sedentary lifestyle that is supported by advances in technology and jobs that keep us in our seat for hours at a time.
Even if you vigorously work out for an hour a day, if you sit for 40 – 60 hours a week, you are still likely to experience imbalances in your metabolism, posture and body structure. Breaking down a 24-hour period, if you spend 8 hours at your desk, 2 hours in front of the TV at night and 8 hours sleeping, that is 18 hours of inactivity. This sedentary period accounts for more than 2/3 of your day.
What this means is that, even with regular workouts, we need to try to find additional ways to incorporate physical activity into our work day. If you are stuck at your desk for hours on end, there are still many ways that you can avoid prolonged inactivity.
Here are eight tips that can help you get exercise at work:
- Use an exercise ball, rather than a desk chair. Sitting on an exercise ball forces you to sit up straight, which strengthens your abdominal muscles and improves your posture;
- Get up and walk around every 45 minutes, even if it’s a walk around your desk. Get your circulation flowing again after sitting. Better yet, walk down the hall and grab a glass of water or go talk with a co-worker directly, versus sending an email;
- Set up an adjustable resistance pedal exerciser at your desk and pedal while you work at your computer or talk on the phone;
- Shorten your meal time and use 15 – 30 minutes of your lunch break to walk around the building;
- Forego the elevator and take the stairs;
- Keep elastic bands or wrist weights in a desk drawer and use them when you are on a conference call or need a moment to stretch your arms or back;
- Get a treadmill desk. These upright desks allow you to walk at a slow pace (typically 1 mile per hour) while working at your desk. This speed is slow enough to allow you to type, talk on the phone or take notes, while logging miles per day;
- Make your meetings walking meetings. Don’t just sit in a conference room; take your meeting mobile. Not only will you get exercise, but a walking meeting will help clear your head and may help you brainstorm the perfect solution.