Taking office work to heart – part 2: movement and strength

A healthy start for a healthy heart in the office.

Physical activity is an important part of our overall health. It provides a wealth of benefits for our bodies and our wellbeing, including weight loss, reducing stress and enhancing better moods. However research is showing that while 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week is recommended for better health, that is not the only type of activity you need to be aware of. While a total of 150 minutes a week of physical activity is recommended, that is not the only activity needed, according to a recent research study. Adults who sat for long periods of time without getting up were at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, increased triglycerides, higher cholesterol levels, increased risk for diabetes and larger waist sizes. If you are sitting for the majority of your waking hours each day due to your job or a sedentary activity, you will want to rethink how your daily routine plays an important part in your overall health.

When we sit for long periods of time, our large muscles are not contracting, which assists with decreasing our metabolism. A lower metabolism challenges the body when burning calories by slowing the process. Moving helps to increase metabolism and burns more calories. A sedentary job or lifestyle needs to have daily activity included above the recommended physical activity of 30 minutes most days. Below, you will find some ideas that can be added into your work day at your desk or in your home to increase your daily activity.

Whether you have an office or a cubicle, there are desk activities that can give you five minutes of needed movement to get your heart rate increased and use some of those larger groups of muscles. The chair squat, chair push-up, lateral sit up and simple stretches can be found right on your computer. Try to take five minutes each hour to move your body for better health.

An article called Deskercise! 33 Smart Ways to Exercise at Work details descriptions of activities you can do at your desk or at home on the days that you are not moving very much. Below are some of the suggestions.

  • A little dance – don’t be afraid to do a little dance in your chair to release some stress and gain some energy to continue your work.
  • Wall sit – stand with your back against the wall and bend your knees down into a sitting position. Hold this for 30-60 seconds. This is a great strength builder for your legs.
  • Tighten the bum – while sitting in your chair, tighten your glutes and hold for five to 10 seconds and release. Do this until the phone call or meeting has ended or your favorite show is done.
  • Inner thigh strength – find a ream of paper or unopened copy paper and squeeze that between your knees for 30-60 seconds. Do this while you are sorting through the mail.
  • Static arm strength – in a sitting position, push your palms together in a praying motion in front of you. Push them together with power and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat. Now connect your hands together like you are shaking hands with one thumb pointing upwards. Pull your hands, holding for 10 seconds and repeat. You will feel this work in your biceps and shoulders.
  • Take a few jabs – shadowbox throwing out a few jabs, uppercuts and hooks to help relieve stress and get your heart rate up a little. Make sure everything is out of the way before you throw any punches, especially co-workers.
  • Movement in place – don’t forget about marching in place, jogging in place, jumping jacks, lunges and kicks that can all be done while standing in one place. Do each of these for 30-60 seconds to increase your heart rate and bring a bit of energy.

Before adding any type of physical activity into your day, Michigan State Uninversity Extension advises to check with your health care professional to prevent injuries. The idea is to better your health, not become injured and unable to give yourself this important gift of creative movement. For more information on healthy behaviors and lifestyles read Taking office work to heart – part 1: increasing activity.

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