Hucksters have been selling snake oil for centuries, putting things in bottles or pretty packages that will cure your ills, make you beautiful or otherwise change things for the better. And when it comes to the concept of office fitness, in some ways it sounds a bit like snake oil. Exercises you can do at your desk while you work to get in shape? Maybe you’ve got some magic beans you’d like to sell, too. Does office fitness actually work?
Sitting down for 40 hours per week contributes to a sedentary lifestyle that increases your risk of obesity, depression, diabetes and other health complications. It is possible to add some activity into your workday to get your blood flowing, your heart beating and your body feeling a lot healthier. But in office fitness, there are some things that work…and a whole lot that just don’t.
Exercise and Standing Desks
Standing desks are a big thing now that people are realizing how bad sitting all day can be. However, standing all day isn’t great, either. Standing for long periods at a time is bad for your back and can cause varicose veins.
Exercise desks aren’t very practical, either. Desks that allow you to work your legs (such as treadmill desks and elliptical desks) can help you burn calories. However, they can also destroy your focus. If you’re pedaling, you’re not putting all of your brain power into your work. Ultimately, your work is likely to suffer because you’re not working as efficiently or maintaining your focus.
These specialized desks are also pretty expensive, and you may spend a lot of money finding out that you actually hate having a treadmill desk.
Medical experts say that any amount of exercise is beneficial to your body. Even if you’re active for 10 minutes a day, it’s better than doing absolutely nothing. So when it comes to taking the stairs, doing jumping jacks, standing up to stretch or getting active in any way when you’re at the office…the short answer is yes, it does work. But it takes willingness and effort, which is important if you’re spending 8 or more hours sitting to do your work.
Exercises You Can Do
But let’s get serious: how much exercise can you do when you’re working? Not much, that’s true, but probably still more than you think. You’re at work, so you’re probably looking at the clock every now and then anyway (or maybe every 10 minutes on some days). So try to stand up every hour or so and take a little walk around the room. Walk for two to five minutes, or run in place for one minute. You should also spend about 30 seconds stretching. Bend down and try to touch the floor. Stretch your arms over your head. Arch your back. Just get in some good stretches to loosen up your muscles and stimulate your blood flow.
Take advantage of your breaks by not sitting down. Walk to lunch, use the stairs, or lightly jog. Even pacing around for 10 minutes is good for your body after you’ve been at your desk for 5 hours. Office fitness can work, and it will likely work better all on your own. It will be worth it to find ways to add it into your daily routines to make your body healthier and happier.