I recently received an email from NADE asking permission to publish an article I wrote for Instructables on The Complete Desk Job Fitness Guide that I wrote 5 years ago, how time flies! It still has a lot of good info, so here it is!
The Complete Desk Job Fitness Guide
by Bridget Regan Kolek, PT, DPT
Step 1: Control your methods to and from work
Public transit: If you live in an area with accessible public transportation, you may be able to utilize it to also remain less sedentary. Although many stops are very convenient, you will most likely have to walk a bit to your nearest stop and stand to wait, which is more physical activity than driving. Even just a simple 1/2 mile walk to the bus stop would help you burn an extra 80 calories per day! And get you out of the rush hour traffic…If these seem a little hefty, try one of them one day per week to start out . The best thing about using your method to and from work for exercise is that it forces you to do it. If you biked to work, then you will have to bike home whether you feel like it or not.Of course not all of these options are available to everyone. Sometimes you just have to drive. But what about parking a little further and enjoying a stroll or jog to work?
Step 2: Make health-conscience food choices
Bring lunch as often as you can: The easiest way for me to do this was to buy a bunch of bags of ready made salad, low-cal dressing and croutons and a carton of low-sodium soup and fat free yogurt and just leave it at work in the fridge. That way you don’t have to fuss with preparing a meal each day and turning to unhealthy, quick alternatives. Some people really like the health-conscious prepared frozen meals and stock them in the work fridge as well. Just be sure to find ones that you enjoy and will fill you up.Plan for meals out: Just because you want to stay fit doesn’t mean you have to skip lunch out with coworkers. Look up the restaurant you are going to ahead of time. Most places have their nutrition facts online. You may be surprised, for instance a McDonalds McChicken sandwich has more calories and fat than their cheeseburger? If you are going to a sit down restaurant, portions are often unnecessarily large. Ask for a take out box and plan on eating half of the meal and saving the rest for the next day’s lunch.
Skinny your coffee: Many desk job workers are also coffee fanatics. I was surprised to learn my favorite Starbucks drink, the Grande Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha has a whopping 400 calories and 9 grams of fat! (That’s more calories than a McChicken sandwich) But did you know that you can ask for many of your favorite drinks to be “Skinny”? The same sized Skinny Flavored Latte would bring me down to only 180 calories. Better yet, skip the coffee shop all together and brew yourself. Check out the flavored creamer section of your grocery store and you can find fat-free creamer versions of your favorite coffee house selections.
Aquaify with H2O or low-sugar juices: You maybe have heard stories of weight loss when someone simply gives up their daily soda. These drinks can pack lots of hidden calories, so just skip them. Many people opt for juices instead, but also look at the nutrition value on these. Many juices have added sugar or high fructose corn syrup to make them extra sweet. Look for juices that say “100% juice” or “no sugar added”. The best choice to quench your thirst is simply water, but if you need some more flavor in the day, try bringing a jug of your favorite low-cal drink and leave it in the fridge to fight soda machine temptations. I always left a jug of diet green tea in the fridge at work instead of going to the soda machine. Crystal Light also makes low-cal favor packet singles to flavor just one cup of water too.
Prepare for snacking: When you need a little pick-me-up at work, instead of turning to the vending machine snacks, plan ahead with healthier alternatives at your desk. Keep a stash of healthy snacks like pretzels, crackers, fiber bars, or fat-free puddings in your desk. The Snack-Pack Sugar-Free chocolate or caramel puddings are my favorite at only 80 calories for a rich, sweet, healthy, and cheap ($1 for 4 cups) snack.
Step 3: Move during the day
Meet face-to-face: Instead of calling a coworker, emailing, or sending an instant message, why not get up and meet face-to-face? Some things are better said in person anyway. This is an easy way to put a few more steps into your day and unchain you from your desk, and make your face known more around the office.Make trips away from the desk: Send that document to a farther printer to get a few more steps in your day. Use a farther copier. Use a small water cup or coffee mug so you have to make trips to fill it. Don’t use a trash can in your office; force yourself to get up and use a central one.
Stand when you can: Your body burns approximately 100 calories as hour just by standing! Going to be on a long phone call? Why not stand! Better yet, add some steps and pace a bit. If you like to make notes to yourself, position a white board up high so you have to stand up to write on it. Same with your calendar. When visiting with coworkers, stand as well. In a big meeting with not enough chairs? Don’t fight to grab a chair, offer it to a co-worker and stand for the presentation.
Fidget: There have been numerous studies on the benefits of fidgeting. The simple act of fidgeting can burn up to 350 calories a day! So tap your pen, swing your chair back and forth and tap your toes. These little movements add up over time making you a healthier person.
Use your lunch break: Instead of just staying seated during your lunch break, use this time to move freely. Is there a gym close by? Consider joining and using the machines on your lunch break. You can also go for a nice walk or run during lunch. Increasing your time outside in the fresh air will also improve your mood versus staying inside all day. If you are going out to eat, why not recommend somewhere everyone can walk to?
Studies have shown that just increasing your activity at work with these simple ways can significantly improve your long-term health.
Step 4: Stretch at work
1. Grab and Leans (Sitting upper trap stretch): Sitting in your chair in good posture, hold onto the bottom of the seat and lean your body away. You should feel the stretch on the side of your neck of the arm that is holding on.
Step 5: Perform sitting exercise
Step 6: Wrap up
The research concerning the effects of having a sedentary desk job is frightening. But there is definitely hope: make your sedentary job less sedentary . An interesting study performed by Mayo Clinic studied the effects of inactivity with increased calorie intake. Surprisingly, not all subjects gained weight. Those who did not pack on the pounds unconsciously moved around more during the day than those who did. And those little movements added up.What about those who exercise regularly outside of work? Good. Keep it up. But even 3-5 hours a week of exercising is hard to combat ~40 hours of inactivity, don’t you agree? Active people still need to employ these tips because it is the prolonged inactivity that is so dangerous.Regarding what I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Won’t I look silly stretching and moving around during the day?”. Maybe. But the research is out there: looking silly is a lot better than the scary effects of inactivity. If one of your co-workers asks what is up, share with them what you learned. Invite them to join you in your quest to be more active at work. Share this instructable with your coworkers so you can fight the effects of inactivity together. It’s better than being dead , right?
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