January 4th, 2012 Archive

Working Out at Work

January 4th, 2012 by Adaire in Lifestyle

We spend five days a week sitting in our offices, glued in front of our computers, and unmindful of the hours that pass. We scarf down takeaway Chinese or club sandwiches (my favorite!) on days when we have pressing deadlines. Before we know it, it’s already close to six pm. We get up, do what is probably the only real stretch we ever do in a day, rub our lower backs and head home.

We get home, have dinner by our lonesome or with loved ones, and if it’s still too early to retire, we flop down on our comfy chair and watch TV.

Now pause right there and think of the last ten hours of your day. Were you kind to your spine?

If that strikes you as a funny question, I’d like to point out right away that it was asked in all seriousness. You see, I just finished reading a Healthy Wealthy nWise article by Jon Bjarnason called “Proper Sitting Positions and Your Spine”. It got me thinking and agreeing that we ought to be always aware of our postures at work lest we suffer the consequences to our spine.

Busy office workers who sit in unhealthy poses and don’t take time to stretch every now and then are putting their spine and ligaments at risk for joint injuries. When your ligaments are damaged, your muscles won’t work properly and you will become weak and tired. According to Bjarnason, “Sitting properly helps keep the ligaments strong, reduces muscle fatigue, the muscles use less energy and do not get tired as easily.”

He then shares five helpful tips on how to sit correctly to minimize back pain and spine injury:

“It is very important to take a break at least every hour.” No matter how busy you are, you need to set aside a minute or two to stand and stretch. If you really can’t stand up – like if you’re in the middle of a marathon meeting with the top bosses – then, at the very least, shift your position in your seat.

My friend Kate has a funny way of incorporating little workouts and stretches in the office. When she wants to “wake up” her circulation, she heads to the corporate pantry, grabs a couple of unopened bottles of juice and does squats and arm raises, using them as light weights. :) She assures me that she does this when no one is around, and wouldn’t mind at all if someone saw her. “I might inspire them to do the same thing, and then we’ll have to stock up on more juice bottles!” she laughed.

“Always make sure that your knees are lower than your hips.” Don’t let the back of your knees touch the seat.

“You should always keep both feet firmly on the floor.” If you happen to be petite and your feet don’t touch the floor at all when you’re seated, get a footrest.

“Never cross your legs while you are sitting.” Ladies, I know this makes us look attractive but it’s not good for our posture. Instead, keep your ankles in front of your knees.

“Having a chair with an adjustable backrest is crucial.” Adjust it to support that arch in the lower back. Bjarnason recommends asking your employer to provide you with one. If this is not possible, you will need to purchase it yourself.

If you’re already feeling the small effects of bad posture over the years, it’s time to visit your friendly local chiropractor. He or she can provide you more tips on how to maintain good posture and change bad habits.

Now what if you’re a business traveler who is always on the go? You may not be stuck at your desk the whole day but you’re also prone to health issues. In fact, in Suzy Buglewicz’s Healthy Wealthy nWise article, “5 Secrets of Healthy Road Warriors”, it is pointed out that business travelers have higher obesity rates than those who don’t travel as often. Chalk it up to all that heavy airplane food, hotel and diner meals, business cocktails, and sampling the local cuisine of the state or country you’re visiting.

So how do you combat weight gain on your next business trip? Follow these five tips that Buglewicz shares in her article.

“Choose meals wisely”. At a hotel buffet, keep in mind that no one is forcing you to sample everything. Pick the healthiest fare you see and choose more vegetables than meat. That doesn’t mean you can pile on the dressing though!

“Fit in fitness time.” Bugelwicz says that a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of dying from cancer and heart disease by more than 30%. Compensate for all those hours sitting in a plane and in meetings by using the exercise facilities in your hotel gym. If the hotel doesn’t have one, jog around the city. Don’t forget to pack your exercise gear.

“Sleep like you’re at home.” Lack of sleep will prevent you from being alert and productive. At night, forget about your paperwork and tuck yourself in early. Switch off all lights and electronic devices. Resist the urge to answer that one last business email. It can wait the next day.

“Keep germs at arms length.” Airplane bathrooms, drinking fountains, and ATM buttons have the highest concentration of germs. Wash your hands frequently and carry a hand sanitizer with you always.

“Take charge of your health care.” Pack your insurance card, vitamins and medicines in the event you catch a cold, get a tummy ache, or suffer an allergy from exotic foods.

Keep fit and healthy wherever your job takes you. When you feel the urge to sneak in a little exercise during the day, go for it and grab those juice bottles! :)


Image by: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net