Get Fit While You Sit

By: Cassie Vanderwall, MS, RD, LDN, CPT

The average American works a 46-hour work week and 38% of our fellow Americans work over 50 hours each week (National Sleep Foundation, 2011). This means that if you have a sedentary, or “desk job,” you could be seated for approximately 9 hours every day.  When pursuing a healthier lifestyle, it is important to capture every minute and get fit while you sit!

There are 4 types of exercise that are equally important:

  • Cardiovascular (Aerobic) exercise
  • Resistance (Anaerobic) exercise
  • Balance
  • Flexibility or Stretching

The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that everyone strive for 60 minutes of physical activity and/or exercise every day.  Most of this time should be spent on aerobic exercises.  It is also recommended that individuals perform 4 resistance exercises at least 2 days per week. These can be lofty goals if you are just starting out. Read on to find out how you can achieve 60 minutes per day with small bouts of exercise while at work.

Cardiovascular (Aerobic) Exercise: These heart pumping activities keep our heart and lungs healthy. Try to perform these activities for at least 30 minutes every day, or for 10 minutes 3 times per day.

  • Power-walk to your next meeting, or during your lunch break.
  • Take the stairs up and down.
  • Park further away from your office, Bike to work, or get off of public transportation a stop or 2 early and walk.
  • Wear a pedometer and work your way up to 10,000 steps per day.
  • Kick your legs for 1 to 5 minutes, while you sit at your computer; rest and repeat.
  • Take a break every 3 hours and perform 5 to 10-minutes of calisthenics (i.e.: Jumping jacks or marching)

Resistance (Anaerobic) Exercise: Resistance exercises keep our muscles and bones strong. It is best to choose 4 exercises of various muscle groups from head-to-toe to work-out. Try to perform 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions for these exercises.

  • Squat up and down 12 times in a row; Rest and then repeat this set 2 more times.
  • Keep an exercise band at work and perform 3 sets of biceps curls or tricep extensions one time per day.
  • Work your calves by rising up and down on the balls of your feet.
  • Lean forward against the wall and perform push-ups.
  • Keep a mat in your office, perform abdominal crunches or hold yourself straight in a plank position for 30 seconds.

Balance Exercise: Practice balance-training everyday to prevent falls. These exercises will help to keep your ankles and hips strong.

  • While utilizing a sturdy object (desk, 4-legged chair, etc) stand on one leg and raise the other leg in front of your body at a right-angle. Practice balancing on 1-leg for 10 seconds or more.
  • Place your hands on your hips, practice balancing on 1-leg for 10 seconds or more.
  • Rise on to your toes and hold for 10 seconds or more. Then, try one-leg at a time.
  • Perform 10 one-legged squats on both legs.
  • Sit-up straight, tilt your hips backwards and roll your shoulders back; Hold this posture.

Flexibility Exercise: Stretching keeps our muscles long and promotes good blood flow throughout the body.  Often times stretching can be combined with breathing exercises to relax the body (i.e.: yoga).

  • While sitting up straight, lean forward in your chair and reach for the ground; hold for 10 seconds.
  • Extend your legs in your chair with your toes in the air, lean forward and reach for your toes; hold for 10 seconds. Then, point your toes and use your hands to push them to the ground; hold for 10 more seconds.
  • Extend your arms overhead and grasp on wrist with the opposite hand. Lean to one-side and hold for 10 seconds and then lean to the other-side.
  • Clasp your hands in front of you and push your palms out away from your chest; hold for 10 seconds. Then, lift your clasped hands over head and stretch upwards for 10 seconds.
  • While sitting up straight, place one hand behind your body on the floor or seat of a chair. Tilt your head to the opposite shoulder of the hand behind you. Use the other hand to gently push your head to your shoulder. Relax your head and shoulders and hold for 10 seconds, then perform on the other side.

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