21 Tips to Staying Fit with a Desk Job
August 20, 2015
Adjusting to a sedentary desk job can be a challenge. Between your commute, your 8 to 9 hour work day, and parking yourself on the couch after a day filled with stressful meetings, you can find yourself bent at the infamous 90° angle of the hips more than completely vertical. Finding the time to squeeze in some essential exercise is tough and hitting your speed dial for the local Chinese take-out restaurant when you pull in the driveway can become a bit too easy.
Obesity in the United States is becoming a greater concern each and every day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults in the United States are classified as obese. Obesity can lead to heart disease, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes, which are all present on the CDC’s list of the top 10 leading causes of death.
Here is an example: Let’s say you sleep 6 hours a night, on average, and you have a 9 hour work day (including your one hour lunch) and a half hour commute to work and a half hour commute home – that takes up 16 hours of your 24 hour day, or two-thirds. How do you adequately break up those remaining 8 hours? If you’re not a morning person, you can forget about that 5AM wake up call to head to the gym. So maybe you like to shoot to work out once you get home? Generally, by the time you get home you may have errands to run, children to feed, dogs to walk, laundry to fold, a lawn to mow, and you’re just plain exhausted. Eight hours can seem like a lot to accomplish everything you need to tackle, but you can’t forget to acknowledge how much time every adult-like responsibility takes, which can seem extra strenuous when you stumble through the door exhausted. So when do we as a society put our fitness at the top of our priority list so we can combat this epidemic?
Having a job that requires you to sit more than stand doesn’t scream “active lifestyle." How can we turn our ever-so important and critical desk jobs into one that benefits our health and well-being? Even on the days where you can’t find the time to hit the gym, there are ways to maintain a fit and healthy mind and body.
1. Don’t skip breakfast. Eating a well-balanced breakfast kick starts your metabolism for the day and gives you a boost of energy.
2. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep every night. Everyone's magic number is different, but it's an important number to find!
3. Get up once at least once an hour if possible and walk a few laps around the office.
4. Avoid packaged foods with the words “partially hydrogenated” or “fully hydrogenated” – these trans-fats are often hidden within ingredient lists, even if the nutrition facts lists 0g of trans-fats.
5. Try to pack your lunch when you can rather than going out. Going out to lunch tends to end up in higher caloric consumption.
6. Try skim milk in your morning cereal instead of 2%, or low-fat cream cheese on your bagel.
7. Swap out your desk chair for an exercise ball to help improve your balance and posture, while strengthening core muscles.
8. Try to include lean proteins, such as chicken breast, turkey, fish, peanut butter, beans, etc. with at least two meals a day.
9. Bring a set of weights to leave at your desk and rotate through different arm exercises once an hour.
10. If you are a fan of cream and sugar in your coffee, try substituting with green tea one or two days a week. Green tea helps to boost your metabolism and also provides you with a caffeinated kick.
11. Or, try drinking your coffee black.
12. Start a lunch time walking club with some co-workers.
13. If you need a snack throughout the day, try to keep it below 150 calories.
14. If you can afford it, invest in a FitBit or similar product that tracks your steps. Set a reasonable goal each day and you’ll find yourself getting up more often throughout the day to try to hit that target number.
15. Substitute your daily regular or diet soda with a sparkling seltzer water.
16. If you still have work to do when you get home, try working while walking on the treadmill – don’t get off the treadmill until you’ve completed your work for the night.
17. Every time you get up from your desk for whatever reason, do 5 body-weight squats.
18. Every time you return to your desk, do 5 body-weight squats before sitting down.
19. Keep hydrated! If your water bottle is empty, get up and go refill it.
20. If you’re going out to lunch or have to run some work errands, park in the furthest possible parking spot from the door, which will require you to walk more throughout the day.
21. Start each morning with five minutes of mediation. The physical and mental benefits of mediation are incredible.
The American Heart Association suggests vigorous aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes, three times a week, if not more. If you can’t manage that, any duration of exercise is encouraged – something is always better than nothing. Rather than penciling in time to work out every day, sharpie it in. Make your health and exercise a requirement like brushing your teeth, not something to cross off a to-do list.
*These suggestions are not provided by a nutritionist or dietitian - just a PR Coordinator who wants to see the health and wellness of society improve. These tips are in no way guaranteeing weight loss and you should always consult your doctor when changing your diet or altering exercise habits. These tips have been accumulated from friends and family who have found success in staying active while sedentary.