How to move in the office to keep yourself healthy.
If you work in an office, you probably understand the tedium of sitting down for hours at a stretch. Working at a computer, there really isn’t anywhere to go and plus, you’ve got all that work to get through.
However, while the monotony is bad enough, it’s also really unhealthy to literally sit around all day. It can not only cause problems in your neck, shoulder, back and legs, but also serious health issues including colon, uterine and lung cancer.
When you sit down for too long, that lack of movement tells your body it’s time to prepare to die – no, seriously – and so it prepares to shut down.
Some businesses are aware of the health hazards of desksitting, and have created spaces that encourage you to walk around, or use standing desks that immediately improve your health. Sadly, in more traditional offices, they might not take so kindly to your bringing in an exercise ball to sit on, or attempting to raise your desk to eye level.
So short of quitting your job, it’s time to take a few steps towards making your office life a little healthier. Here are some simple suggestions: walk over to speak to colleagues instead of calling or sending an e-mail, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and take a longer route to your desk to get a little more of a walk in.
Personal trainer Filza Dora Sim suggests three exercises – squats, side lunges and glutes kickbacks – that can easily be done in the office. She explains: “Too much sitting makes the hips and glutes stiff and weak. These exercises can be done by your desk and are highly recommended to improve mobility in the hips, opening up the hips and working and stretching the muscles around them, as well as strengthening them.”
Self-conscious? Find a quiet place in the office or an empty room. It might also be worth investing in a little wearable tech. Tools like the Apple Watch are designed to give you notifications when it’s time to stand up and move (at least 10 minutes for every one hour) – and while this might be annoying at first, now that you know the health benefits behind it, this could be a great way to improve your health.
We’re not talking about the ah beng squat, but proper squats that use both your knees and hips and that also give all the muscles in that area a good stretch. Stand with your feet slightly apart with toes pointed outwards; keep your back straight and your body weight on your heels as you go down.
Side lunges work your hips, glutes and thighs a little differently from normal lunges, and are good for the knees because they reduce injury. Keep the leg that’s lunging relatively straight while making sure the other is bent but not beyond your toes.
While usually done lying down, you can do glutes kickbacks standing up. Just stand straight and bring one leg back, bent at the knee in a slow, controlled movement. It’s like you’re kicking backwards but controlled, and is great for your butt.