December is the time people begin to formulate their resolutions for the coming year, and February is when those resolutions are broken. By the time fall rolls around, we've changed this year's failed resolutions into next year's hopeful ones. Cigarettes are purchased, soda and alcohol is imbibed, and expletives fly like migrating birds. Bad habits are difficult to break, and good habits are just as difficult to form. Like anything worth working for, though, it takes a bit of practice and a lot of perseverance to make sure you don't break down and revert to negative actions.
Many broken resolutions involve exercising and losing weight. Eating healthy and working out can be difficult habits to continue as we work longer hours and head home tired. Losing weight is also harder than putting it on, and who wants to spend another hour working hard after a workday that can run anywhere from eight to 12 hours, particularly for those working in the bustling health care field?
Working out does not have to simply be an after-work activity. There are a number of things you can do during your workday to exercise, alleviate pain, and potentially help shed some pounds.
Walk (or bike) to work
Part of the drawback of having a desk job (and for some, part of the allure) is sitting all day. This can be alleviated by walking to and from work. If that's not feasible, park somewhere near your place of work and walk from there. All it takes to begin improving your health is getting 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise, as AlliedHealthWorld.com learned from a previous interview with Dr. Liz Applegate, the director of sports nutrition at the University of California, Davis. So, if you can include some biking or walking on your journey to work it could help you to start reducing your weight.
Ask for a standing desk
This may not seem like much, but it can have health benefits. Studies have linked increased risk for Type 2 diabetes and heart failure to sitting too much throughout the day and getting little exercise. The American Heart Association reported findings from a Kaiser Permanente study about sedentary lifestyles and their effect on the human body. They found that risk for heart failure was double for people who sat for five hours outside of work. Imagine the rates for people who also have a desk job.
The potential solution may be to request a standing desk at work. In an article on USA Today, James Levine, the co-director of Obesity Studies at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, said that we have to break up the amount of time that we sit while at work. What better way to do that than by removing the opportunity to sit?
Stretch while at your desk
Whether you get a standing desk or have a chair, you can do a number of different stretches. These include:
- Stand up and sit down without using your hands -- This might not sound that difficult, but try doing it a few times in a row. Not so easy, huh? You can do this as you take a break from working on that report, or while you are on the phone with a client.
- Loosen up your back -- No matter how comfortable a chair is, it will eventually begin to make your back stiff. You can stretch your back by grabbing the back of your chair with your right hand, the arm of your chair with your left hand, and slowly twisting your torso to the right while keeping your feet facing forward. Switch directions.
- Extend and stretch your legs -- In addition to a stiff back, sitting all day may also lead to sore legs. You can remedy this by doing leg stretches. While sitting down, grab the bottom of your chair and extend your legs straight ahead. Hold this position for a 10 count. You can also rotate your ankles to loosen them up, or point your toes dead ahead and then pull them back.
Replace your chair with a stability ball
It may not seem like it at first, but a stability ball might give you the best workout while you are at your desk. The effort it takes to remain upright on the ball could help you work your core muscles, and improve your balance and posture. You can even do modified sit-ups on the ball while working. Plus, the ability to bounce up and down while bored is a great added bonus to this switch!
Habits are hard to make
Some people may think it takes more time to exercise than they have during the day. The truth is we may have the time to work out, and all we have to do is take advantage of it. These techniques will not burn an extraordinary amount of calories, but they can help you maintain your weight and lower your susceptibility to other health risks. You might also build better habits, and start to find time for more substantive exercise outside of work. Most importantly, don't wait until next January to start fitting fitness into your daily work routine.
"Are you sitting down? Your heart failure risk is higher," USA Today, Nanci Hellmich, January 21, 2014, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/01/21/sitting-disease-heart-failure/4661431/
"Benefits of Using a Stability Ball as a Chair," Livestrong.com, Amanda White, August 19, 2013, http://www.livestrong.com/article/290341-the-benefits-of-using-a-stability-ball-as-a-chair/
"Get Up. Get Out. Don't Sit," The New York Times, Gretchen Reynolds, October 17, 2012, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/get-up-get-out-dont-sit/