by Aby League
It is a waste of time asking office workers if they hit the gym or exercise at home. Expect most of them to answer: “I don’t have the time.” In case you don’t know yet (or refused to know), there are ways on how to become fit at work.
Obesity among working adults is on the rise globally. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every three American adults is affected by obesity or having a body mass index of 30 or higher. Another 40 percent of the adult population is affected by excess weight. In the UK, the Office of National Statistics noted that 24 percent or nearly one in four adults is affected by obesity. This is unfortunate because obesity exposes a person to a variety of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and certain kinds of cancer. It also has an economic impact as far as medical resources of a country are concerned. In the U.S. for example, the government spends an estimated amount of $147-billion to treat obesity-related diseases.
On the average, employees spend 40 hours a week in the office. They brave the rush hour traffic to get home and wake up early the next day to prepare for work. So they say: how can we find time to work out? Well, there are work exercises you can do and you don’t even have to leave your desk. Stop complaining and get started at living a healthier life.
Exercise comes from the Latin word “exercere” which means keep busy or at work. In short, to exercise means to keep your body busy and use your muscles. You don’t need a treadmill nearby or lift weight to get fit. You can start by:
- Standing as much as you can and taking a stroll down the hall.
- Make it a habit to breathe deep to tighten the abdominal muscles every so often.
- When parking, choose the furthest slot so you will be forced to walk a few more meters.
- If your office is just on the third floor, take the stairs. And when you need to tell your coworker something, walk up to them instead of sending them an e-mail.
In an interview with Forbes magazine, Jason Queiros, a chiropractor at Stamford Sports & Spine in Connecticut says it is easy to stay fit while at work. You don’t even have to leave your desk. Try the neck stretch by touching your ear to your shoulder and holding it there. For your back, hold your hips and gently bend backward.
Always stuck at the keyboard? Try to stand, arms straight, place your palms at your desk with fingers pointed toward you. Lower your body slowly and hold for 15 seconds. You may also throw your closed fists into the air for a complete unit whenever you feel tension in your hands and arms. Another office work out for the upper arms is casually leaning on a wall with the forearm supporting your body. Lean until the upper arm almost touches it then push back out.
Queiros’ “magic carpet ride” will also do magic for your core and arms. Sit with your legs crossed and your feet on the seat. Place your hands on the armrest and raise yourself a few inches above the seat using your belly, muscles, and hands. Hold to 10 seconds and repeat five times in between a 30-second rest.
If you feel that your lower body is feeling the strain, do the “wooden leg.” Sit and extend one leg straight and hold for two seconds then raise it up again. You can also stand in front of your desk, bend your knees slightly, raise your arms straight up and assume this position for 15 seconds.
Work as a Team
Getting fit is better when done together. To combat obesity in the workplace, it is better to work out as a team. Encourage your officemates to walk when going to a restaurant during lunch time, have “walking meetings,” do simple stretches before lunch or before and after a meeting, or arrange a weekly tennis or basketball game after office hours.
The Role of Employers
The goal for a healthy workforce cannot be done in isolation. Everyone should be involved, including the employers. An estimated 139 million Americans spend one third of their time in the workplace, but a recent survey by the National Worksite Health Promotion reveals that there has been a decline in “health offerings” by employers despite the alarming rise in obesity statistics. The survey reports that only 21 percent of employers offer weight management programs due to lack of resources and lack of support. Lack of employee interest is also a factor.
Even without an official and comprehensive program, employers can help their employees to achieve work fitness. Employers can start by encouraging employees to take their full lunch hour outside or in the cafeteria instead of eating at their desk. Provide weighing scales and pedometers so the employees can measure their physical activity. For the company’s events, have a fun run or mini-Olympics instead of a concert. Try not to serve soda and pizza during meetings.
Fighting obesity in the workplace is a millennial challenge. It takes government action, participation, and lifestyle change among workers. This is not about vanity or looking good, it is about the employees’ health and wellness. Aside from improving confidence and the sense of self-worth among employees, getting fit and staying fit also contribute to general productivity. Not having the time is an easy (and annoying) excuse, but who said you need two hours to exercise? Consistently performing “deskercises” and taking to heart healthy habits will help every employee achieve a healthier body and mind.
About the Author:
Aby League is a qualitative researcher and a passionate writer. She is an innovator and technology enthusiast. She has been writing about health, psychology, home improvement and technology. To know her more, follow @abyleague on Twitter.
Disclaimer: This blog post does not reflect the views of the OAC, the National Board of Directors or staff. Information contained in this blog post is not based on scientific research and has not been validated. The OAC does not endorse or support any merchandise, program or hyperlink mentioned in this blog post.