By Kristen Lotze
It’s no secret that sitting at a desk for eight or more hours a day isn’t going to grant you six-pack abs, but there are things you can do in your office and around your workplace that will greatly contribute to your overall health efforts.
Joseph Quatrochi, Ph.D., of MSU Denver’s Human Performance and Sport Department offers some ways to stay fit and healthy on the job:
This cannot be stressed enough. There are scads of literature showing the detrimental effects prolonged sitting can have on the human body. So first, move as much as you can throughout the day: Get up and take a five- to 10-minute walk; go refill your water bottle; walk the steps a couple of times – anything you can do to get out of that chair and get your blood flowing.
A big reason why many people have trouble starting and maintaining an exercise lifestyle is lack of planning. Like anything worth doing, being fit takes some dedication, and the best way to help yourself stay on track toward your fitness goals is to plan as much as you can. Plan activities/exercises to do within your day; plan your meals; plan to get some activity during your breaks. The more organized and planned out you can be, the more likely you are to reach your goals.
The hour(s) before work can be a little hectic, but if you can figure out a way to get some exercise before you even get there, you’re starting your day off on the right foot. Some of the things Quatrochi suggests are biking all or part of the way to work, taking public transportation whenever possible and exiting a stop or two early, parking your car farther from the building to make yourself walk the extra distance and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Building some physical activity into your commute is an easy way to burn some calories before you get to the office.
Humans are social creatures, so it stands to reason that adding a social element to your fitness routine would pan out nicely. One way would be to form a walking group with your colleagues and walk trails or circle the parking lot a few times during your lunch break.
Quatrochi emphasizes the importance of just getting started with some kind of physical movement: “Doing something is always better than doing nothing when it comes to exercise; the body is made to move, and all movement is good.” He also points out that while there are many forms of exercise that might seem intimidating (e.g., high-intensity interval training classes or boot camps), it’s important not to become paralyzed by the idea that you won’t be able to do enough. Quatrochi’s suggestion: “Start slowly, progress gradually, but just get started.”
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