You're probably sat down reading this, aren't you? How did I know? Well, I’m no psychic, but with the average adult in the UK spending 7-10 hours sitting, I placed a pretty safe bet. If you’ve stood up now just to prove me wrong, great. It will do you the world of good.
The NHS published findings by Bazin from one of the largest studies in the UK and found that of its 800,000 participants people who sat the longest had:
- 112% increase in risk of diabetes
- 147% increase in cardiovascular events
- 90% increase in death caused by cardiovascular events
- 49% increase in death from any cause
With ⅘ adults working a desk job, the health risks are shocking for the majority of the UK. In response, official health guidelines have been released which suggest we should:
- Break up long periods of sitting time with shorter bouts of activity for one or two minutes
- Take an active break from sitting every 30 minutes
Now if you’re thinking, “I go to the gym every night so this doesn’t apply to me” - sadly you are mistaken. Perhaps the researchers most disturbing find was that despite going to the gym every day if you still spend your working day seated, you are described as having a sedentary lifestyle. All day activity has now become the focus of maintaining good health as well as regular exercise.
So short of quitting your job, or building a time machine and hopping back to the 1960s where 60% of all jobs were physical, what can you actually do to help protect your health whilst you’re making your wealth? Each week we’re going to focus on different ways we can ‘Workout at work’ and try to improve our sedentary lifestyles. This week’s focus: the desk.
Desk Job Exercises
Chair Squat to Sit
Stand up off your chair, push it back slightly and then imagine you are sitting back down. Squat until your bum taps the seat and then stand back up. Keep your head lifted, back straight and try to keep your shoulders, hips and knees in line, parallel like train tracks. The sit to rising test is often used a quick judge of flexibility and it was found that people who could complete 10 lived longer, though the simplicity of the tests allows a lot of room for other influencing factors.
Turn and face away from the pc, place your palms on the desk and get ready to burn those triceps! Lower yourself by bending your arms until they reach a 90° angle and then drive up and extend your arms until they straighten. The further out you take your feet when you’re dipping, the harder the exercise becomes, as your triceps are forced to move more of your bodyweight. If you were feeling daring, you could even use your desk chair to elevate your feet and make the exercise that extra bit tougher, just be careful not to let your boss catch you leaving any footprints on the seat.
Desk Push Ups
These are accessible to all, even if you can’t manage a regular push up. This is because you are effectively doing an incline push up, which are far easier than a regular push up as they put less stress on your elbows and significantly reduce the amount of weight you're lifting. Place both hands on your desk and walk your feet back until your body reaches a 45° angle, try not to hunch over your shoulders or arch your back whilst bringing your chest down towards the desk and then driving back up. Viola. The desk push up.
Heart rate kickstart: Starjumps
Set a timer for 2 minutes and give your heart rate a kickstart with some star jumps, the more explosive the movement, the better, as you want to make the most of this little blast. These are a great cardio exercise which can be done easily in a confined space. If you feel like a lemon, get your colleagues to join in and then if your boss walks in, you’ll be a hit for your amazing team building skills as well as keeping the office healthy, win-win.
For this you're going to perform a sumo squat hold, to get the blood flowing and re-energise your legs. Tuck your chair out of the way and stand with your legs just past shoulder width apart, toes turned out. Sink down as low as you can (into your imaginary chair) and hold. Stay low with your chest lifted and try and keep your head up. Push through the burn in your thighs for as long as possible. Aim to increase your time with every hold.
Given all these a go? You can sit back down now, but not for long! Make sure you break up your day with bursts of activity to avoid becoming one of the above statistics.
If you’re looking for more inspiration on how to keep your working day active, have a read of this post on why being sedentary is bad for your health
Considering most of us spend a minimum of 8 hours of the day at work, it’s time to start racking up some active minutes in the office… and don’t let me catch you sitting again!