There is hardly a day that goes by without the medical profession increasing its estimation of the dangerous effects on the human body of stress and inactivity combined.
There are all sorts of reasons for this including the fact that mother nature never engineered us to sit down for eight or ten hours a day and do nothing, whilst at the same time our body is frantically pumping adrenalin around trying to deal with the fact that we are mentally if not physically hyper-active.
Of course, the fact of the matter is that this is a difficult problem to deal with even if you’re using easy to navigate sites like wonga that are designed to make stressful tasks easier and more relaxing – or simply taking a quick break and reading the newspapers online. Keeping fit at your desk can be hard to achieve.
Frankly, if you are in a professional environment, telling your boss that you are off for a 15 minute brisk walk every hour might not exactly move you to the top of the list of those considered most suitable for promotion!
So, if your job does entail you staying in one location for lengthy periods and being physically inactive, here are a few ideas that might help.
Please remember though that this is not qualified medical advice and if you are concerned about your fitness or health as a result of your occupation, you should consult a doctor sooner rather than later. You should also do so before starting any exercise regime:
- stand up regularly. It’s perfectly possible to take a telephone call whilst standing up and moving around your desk or even to use your PC. Try to avoid sitting for hours on end in your office chair;
- make the effort to do some regular leg exercises and flexing under your desk. Remember that thrombosis in the legs can be an issue and exercise may help to reduce the risks;
- consider buying some sort of desk weight and using it to get some arm exercises while you sit at your desk. Granted, this won’t be easy as sometimes both hands are needed to drive the PC and speak on the phone etc. but with a little bit of effort, it should be possible;
- regularly do some gentle neck stretching and shoulder exercises. This is quite effective at stress relief;
- do some breathing exercises, concentrating on occasionally doing a series of deep breaths to oxygenate the blood. Be careful not to hyper-ventilate and don’t get carried away!
- above all, eat properly too! It is all too easy to snack at your desk, or grab a quick and maybe not so healthy lunch! If you can, encourage your employer to have fresh fruit delivered to your office, or bring in your own fruit and (healthy!) packed lunches.
Not many of even the most enthusiastic desk exercise practitioners will argue that some of the above things will never be a suitable substitute for rather more demanding and longer-duration exercises.
So, useful as gentle desk exercises are, make sure that you do things like trying to get a 30-45 minute walk each day, whether that is at lunchtime or on your commute to and from your office. That should be supplemented by rather more significant exercise at the weekends when hopefully you will be away from your desk!