So, you’ve made it through the holidays and made some resolutions to get back into shape / maintain your progress / start fresh in fitness. And then you get to work and BAM! 10,000 emails need your attention, your VM box is full, and you’ve got deadlines looming already. That’s what happened to me! I ended up working late almost every day this week and when I got home I had just enough energy to eat some dinner, chill with the husband for about an hour and say hello for the first time that day, and get ready for bed to do it all over again! Exercise happened only once this week. It felt good, and I was glad to be starting on the right track and sticking to my goals. But it was daunting to squeeze another obligation into my already busy day. I am ashamed to say that one day I didn’t even have the energy to eat a proper dinner, and was so hungry by the time I got home at 7:00pm I just ate junk that was fast, easy, and filled the hole in my stomach. I was passed out in bed before 9:00pm, feeling like crap. Bye bye resolutions! You made it 48 hours before you died. At least it was quick. Happily, I’ve been mulling over the issue and came to some fixes I think will work. I just need to make sure that on busy work days, I have to get in some exercise during the day when I can. There’s a few easy ways I (and you!) can accomplish that.
Cubii: First of all, I have this thing called a Cubii Under Desk Elliptical. It’s exactly what you’d think from the name, a mini elliptical that you can put under your desk and just pedal while you type. The elliptical motion keeps you from knocking your knees under your desk, as opposed to the up-down motion you get when you pedal on a bike. It’s got 8 resistance settings, so you can pedal casually on setting 1, or if you really want to burn some extra calories and a bit of a challenge, set it to 8. It’s not so hard that you’ll work up a sweat in your office attire, but if you go on setting 8 for several minutes you’ll feel it in your legs a little for sure. Here is what mine looks like:
You can see it’s pretty discreet and when you are using it, it’s very quiet. Although I will admit when people pop in my office and I’m using it, they’re very curious as to what the hell I’m doing, haha! And I forget it’s even there or that I’m pedaling honestly, so that always gives me a chuckle. But when I tell them what it is they all think it’s pretty cool and want to know where to get one! Now mostly everyone is used to it so I don’t get as many questions. It’s also got an accompanying app which connects to the elliptical via Bluetooth, and so you can use that to set goals, track your usage, and keep you accountable by creating challenges for the day.
Pretty cool. It’s pricey, I’m not gonna lie. BUT, if you have a desk job like me, when you think about all those hours, day after day, that you spend sedentary at your desk, it’s definitely a good investment. (Health is always a good investment in my opinion). I bought this last year, but have been slack about using it other than in little spurts here and there. Now I have made a promise to myself to make sure to use my app and meet my goals every day.
Walking: Another thing I promised myself is that I would make it a point to get out of the office and take a little walk every day. I brought some spare sneakers to work that I leave in my office, and I have a couple of walking buddies who will go with me. Weather permitting, we plan to get together and take a stroll around the parking lot or down the street for about 20-30 minutes, most likely after lunch sometime. We’ve all agreed that we’ll consistently unplug and have a short stroll together, because there is simply nothing that can’t wait for 20-30 minutes so you can take small but critical measures to keep yourself healthy. An investment in health is ultimately an investment in your ability to do good work. And even if no one is available on a particular day, I’ll still go myself. It’s a lot easier to do this in nice weather I’ll grant you, and I live in the south where we never really get any snow, however the summers can be brutally hot and muggy. But, if you can’t get outside or don’t have a good / safe place to walk, maybe your office building has some long halls or stairs you can walk a couple of times a day. Just walk around for 10 minutes twice a day, looking busy. 😉 There are ways to get in some movement, sometimes you just have to get creative. The main point is you HAVE to get your butt out of that chair!!
Try Different Working Postures: One other thing that I do is stand up while I work. I’m standing and typing right now, actually. It’s getting to be more and more common for offices to provide desks that are height adjustable, so you have the option to sit or stand while you work. This lets you stretch out those muscles and get your blood flowing. Maybe you can do some calf-raises while you type, or stretch your quads. If you don’t have an adjustable desk, talk with your supervisor, office manager, or whomever is in charge of these kinds of things and see if that might be an option. See if it’s something your co-workers would want. If a demand is created, perhaps the powers that be will respond. Employees at my company enjoy them so much every single person has an adjustable desk, and it’s not uncommon to walk down the hall and see 90% of the people standing at their monitors, happily typing away!
Try Sitting On An Exercise Ball: In addition to standing, if you don’t have an adjustable desk, try bringing in an exercise ball to sit on. I used one of those for the longest time, and found it really helped with my back issues. You can roll it around underneath you, stretching out your abdominal muscles and your legs, or even break into a quick ab or yoga routine anytime it strikes your fancy. A few crunches in between emails is always fun! I wouldn’t use it exclusively, at least in my experience I found it to be a bit distracting as I would constantly be bouncing and rolling around on it, especially after drinking coffee. But you can keep it in your office and switch out to it from your regular chair for a few hours. WARNING: You can totally fall over sitting on an exercise ball. I have done it and, although I didn’t hurt myself, it was not very graceful. And if you find yourself bouncing on it a lot, just remember you’re burning more calories than you would just sitting in a chair! The only other downside to sitting on an exercise ball is that some might not find if very “professional” looking. If you’re a VP or CEO, you may find it hard to be taken seriously when it looks like you just blew a bubble out of your butt… This image from “Portlandia” is a hilarious example.
Also, if you’re in an open office environment, you may be a distraction to others. Dwight Schrute found that out the hard way on “The Office”:
But, if that was something that bothered you, you could always get a chair version, like this one:
For more info, here is a great article I found written by a chiropractor that outlines 10 good reasons to use an exercise ball as your chair.
I hope this information was helpful to anyone fighting the desk job blerch like me. When you have a busy job it’s easy to let your commitments to fitness slide, and put your goals on the back burner to “more important” priorities. YOUR HEALTH IS A PRIORITY! Always remember that. Little tricks like these can help you meet demanding work obligations without your health needs being left ignored.
What kinds of things do you do to stay active in the office? Let me know in the comments!