It’s no secret that sitting down too much can be bad for your health – it increases your risk of chronic health problems like heart disease and diabetes, and is thought to slow the metabolism. This affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat. Staying active is incredibly important for those with a desk job as it can help reduce stress and most importantly, help you stay healthy. It’ll also keep you from getting that afternoon slump and avoid bad posture that could have knock-on effects in the future.
Whether you work from home or work in an office, we’ve got some top tips from BLK BOX’s Marketing Manager and Personal Trainer, Catherine McLaughlin, to improve your fitness and keep you healthy for years to come.
Try and work standing up
If you have a stand-up or adjustable desk, try and use it for at least two hours everyday – this can help to improve your posture and circulation. Ideal for helping to alleviate the effects of sitting down for long periods of time.
McLaughlin explains: “Studies have shown that alternating between sitting down and standing up can help reduce upper back and neck pain – common complaints from those who are tied to a desk. It can also lower your risk of weight gain and obesity, as well as lowering blood sugar levels. However, this doesn’t replace exercise so make sure you’re combining this with regular breaks, short walks and moderate exercise. Our portable standing desk is the perfect addition to any space.”
Get those steps in
Try doing as many tasks as you can which allow you to be active throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the lift, schedule outdoor or walking meetings around the building and take your phone calls outside, if you can, to increase your steps for the day. Make sure you take a walk on your lunch break, despite how tempting it is to sit and relax. Invite your co-workers and make a daily routine of it. If you work from home, use that time to walk your dog or meet a friend or family member for a walk.
Taking some time out of your day for a short walk will not only help you burn calories and strengthen your back muscles, it can make you feel more energised for the rest of the day. Your food will digest better too!
Take time away from your desk
Set a timer or calendar reminder to get up from your desk regularly throughout the day. Go for a little walk around the office, go to the bathroom or have a chat with a coworker. It only needs to be a minute or two, but it will help increase your overall health. Sitting for long periods can give you digestion problems and issues with your back and hips later on. So, moving more will alleviate some of these issues. You should aim to get up at least once an hour to make sure it has an impact.
McLaughlin says: “There’s a strong link between increased sitting time and early death, reducing how long we’re sat at our desks can help us live longer. Break up long periods of sitting down with short bursts of activity – including short walks or desk exercises, to help increase life expectancy and reduce the risks of getting a chronic health problem.”
We’re all guilty of not drinking enough water but if you want to keep healthy when tied to your desk, you need to make sure you’re drinking enough H2O. Your body needs it to survive! It regulates body temperature, prevents infections and keeps organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated can also help improve your sleep quality and mood.
Catherine suggests: “You could set up an H20 group at work to keep each other motivated and on track, or pick up a water bottle with times on the side to remind you when you need to have a drink. They’re really handy for keeping you on track.”
Seated leg raises
You can do these easily at your desk and it will help strengthen your hamstrings and glutes. To do this, first sit upright in your chair and straighten one of your legs so that it’s parallel to the floor, holding it in place for ten seconds. Now do this with your other leg. Repeat x15 on each leg. You can do this in the afternoon to help give you a bit of an energy boost and avoid feeling sluggish.
Desk push ups
This is a great exercise for your upper body and core strength. Place your palms at shoulder width at the edge of your desk – making sure your desk is sturdy enough to hold your weight first! Now move your feet away from the desk until you are inclined towards it. Slowly lower your chest towards the desk, then push yourself back up again. Repeat this 20 times. The perfect pre-lunchtime workout!
This is also good for upper-body strength and building up muscle. To complete this exercise, you’ll need a chair that won’t roll away. Move to the front edge of the seat and place both palms flat. Bend your elbows until they’re bent between 45 and 90 degrees and then lower yourself down, ensuring your back is as close to the chair as possible. Finally straighten your arms to finish the movement and repeat this 20 times. You can look at doing this in between meetings or even during your laptop break.
For this exercise, you’ll need to stand up from your chair and lower your body back down just inches from the chair, ensuring that you don’t sit down. Be sure to keep your weight on the heels, not the toes, and stand back up again. Repeat this movement 20 times. If you struggle getting to the gym, these are great for getting you moving, and all you need is a chair.
Chair squats help build up the strength in your leg muscles, reducing the risks of leg issues when you’re older such as weak bones and varicose veins. The chair helps to provide added support as you work your glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
To aid your desk exercises, BLK BOX’s resistance bands can be used for a number of different purposes, including general strength building, conditioning, injury prevention and warm-ups.
Catherine summarises: “Inactivity is also bad for our mental health and productivity, moving more will help you be more productive while keeping your mind happy. These exercises can be performed at any point in the day and, combined with being more active and getting your steps in, will help improve your overall health, reducing the impact of sitting down for long periods of time.”