Working full-time in an office can take its toll on your health. Sitting for 8 hours a day, colleagues bringing sweet treats and other temptations into the office, and going out for work drinks can all mean it feels impossible to be healthy. We give you all the tips and advice you need to stay healthy when you work an office job.
Workout at work
There are lots of creative ways you can workout at work without affecting your performance (or ticking off your boss!) You could go for a run or a brisk walk at lunchtime or do exercises at your desk. If you can burn more calories at work, you stand a good chance of living an overall healthier lifestyle as chances are you spend most of your day at the office.
There are a lot of reasons to workout at work and living a sedentary lifestyle by sitting at a desk all day can be very bad for you, even if you regularly exercise outside of work. Incorporating it into your day can make a huge difference to your lifestyle.
Bring homemade lunches
One of the most difficult parts of staying healthy while working an office job is all the temptation. If it's someone's birthday, you can expect cake and treats, and then there are working lunches and meetings. If you're hungry, this means you are far more likely to cave so being prepared and taking your own homemade healthy lunch and snacks will stop you over-indulging.
Don't drink your calories
One of the easiest ways to over-indulge without realising is by 'drinking your calories'. What this means is drinking juices, smoothies, sugary teas, and soft drinks throughout the day. Even supposedly healthy drinks like smoothies and diet soda are bad for your health. Try sticking to water by taking a BPA-free, reusable water bottle to work with you which can sit on your desk and remind you to stay hydrated throughout the day.
It's becoming more common for people to work through their lunch break, but this time is precious and you could use it to make a real difference to your health. Instead of staying at your desk, you could burn up to 300 calories doing a quick HIIT workout on your lunch break!
What is HIIT?
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, a training method which involves short bursts of all-out effort exercises followed by short rest periods. The aim is to maximise your calorie burn during a short amount of time by cranking your heart rate up with tough exercises. During HIIT you should be aiming for your heart rate to be in Zone 4 or even Zone 5, breaking the anaerobic threshold.
How does HIIT work?
The reason HIIT works so effectively is that it causes what we call an ‘afterburn’ effect. When you do HIIT, the intensity of the exercise causes an increased need for oxygen so we end up with an oxygen shortage. This means your body has to find more oxygen in order to recover, known as EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). This, in turn, boosts your metabolism and burns more calories.
How long do I need to do HIIT?
A HIIT workout doesn't need to last hours and hours because of the intensity so they're perfect if you're short on time. Typically, a HIIT workout will last around 20-45 minutes to give your body a chance to burn enough calories for it to be worthwhile.
Lunchtime HIIT workout routine
What’s great about HIIT is it can be done using just your bodyweight, which means all you need is a little bit of space. If your office is cramped why not take this circuit outside? It’s intense enough that it will soon warm you up if it’s cold!
Before commencing a HIIT workout, be sure to warm up for 3-5 minutes. This can involve anything from jumping on the spot to star jumps, anything that will raise your heart rate and warm your muscles up so they are limber and protected from injury.
Top Tip: A lot of HIIT bodyweight circuits contain lots of exercises which put strain on the wrists such as planks, pushups and mountain climbers. Be sure to prepare your joints by circling your wrists back and forth before you get stuck in.
For each of the following exercises try 40 seconds of work vs 20 seconds of rest and then repeat from the top:
- Mountain Climbers
- Push Ups
- Jumping Lunges
- High Knees
- Heel Flicks
- Frog Jumps
- Plank Up Downs
- Shadow Boxing Sit Ups
These badboy’s are often given a far less PG name for a reason, they’re tough. A great all over body exercise to elevate your heart rate and kick things off.Burpees
This move fires up your abdominals whilst keeping your heart rate high. Assume a standard pushup position and run each leg in towards your chest as though you were running off the ground as fast as you can.
Another great all over exercise, push ups can be intensified by lifting a leg, or eased up by coming down to your knees. The trick with push ups is to make sure that despite doing as many as you can at speed, you still make the full range of motion – it should look like your nose is near touching the floor.
Adding plyometrics to any move makes it far more of a challenge. Assume your lunge position sinking nice and low, then as you extend through the legs jumps as high as you can and switch legs, so you are alternating the leg you lunge off, land in a lunging position with the other leg now leading the way. These are sure to set your quads on fire, but keep pushing through and use your arms to help drive you up.
Jog on the spot bringing your knees up as high as you can in front of you, tilt your pelvis forward and lean back slightly to get more abdominal activation.
Now reverse! Jog on the spot flicking your heels up to your bottom as fast as you can to keep that heart rate up.
Start with your legs together and feet facing out, squat down allowing your knees to turn out and then explode up straightening the legs before returning to start. Ribbit.Ribbet.
Start in a slight squat, so your legs are loaded with power, then jump sideways to the left and land on your left leg, with your right leg lifted off the ground. Now jump leading with your right leg and land on the right leg, with your left leg away from the floor. Use your arms to propel you further, opposite arm to opposite leg.
Plank Up Downs
Start in a plank off your hands, keeping your bum down and shoulder blades squeezed together to ensure your spine stays in neutral alignment. Bring you right hand down to an elbow plank position and then follow it with the left, now bring the right arm back up to a hand plank and follow it with the left. Avoid looking up as it puts extra strain on the neck.
Shadow Boxing Sit Ups
Lie on you back with your knees bent ready for a sit up, but this time as you brace your abs and bring your upper body up, throw a jab and a cross, punching towards the opposite knee. This adds some extra oblique engagement and makes the exercise a little bit more of a challenge. Breathe out as you lift up and punch.
What are the benefits of HIIT?
As well as the obvious benefits of keeping you busy during your lunch break and generally more active, HIIT also boasts these benefits:
- Training anaerobically increases your VO2 max.
- HIIT is anabolic, meaning you lose weight from fat and not muscle.
- HIIT increases Human Growth Hormone by up to 450% during the first 24 hours after your workout, which repairs damaged tissue and helps build muscle and burn fat.
- Evidence suggests HIIT can actually help suppress your appetite. Research in The International Journal of Obesity found those who participated in HIIT style exercise consumed on average 200 calories less and had lower levels of ghrelin which is your hunger hormone.
So next time your lunch hour strikes, why not grab your colleagues and challenge them to this anytime, anyplace workout. Don’t forget to pack your deodorant!
Workout at work, How to workout at work, Lunchtime workout routine, HIIT workout routine, What are the benefits of HIIT, How long do I need to do HIIT?
Being chained to a desk for 8 or more hours every day isn't great for our health. So what can we do to be more healthy at work? Here are some tips on how to burn more calories at work and make the most of your precious time.
Split up your lunch break
You should be entitled to a one-hour lunch break during your work day, so use this to your advantage. You could eat your lunch at your desk and use the one-hour break to go for a brisk walk or even a run. You could do a 30-minute run and still have 30 minutes to freshen up and get changed and get ready to go back to work. You could even do a 30-minute lunchtime HIIT session to get your heart rate up and burn some calories!
Better still, if you are allowed to, breaking up your 60 minutes into 10 minute breaks is even better. This will mean you spend less time sitting and staring at a screen and could even improve your concentration and work output. During these 10 minutes you could go for a walk or do some light stretching. Of course, it all depends on your office set-up and your boss. At Sundried, we have a philosophy called EHOH whereby we do some sort of activity every hour on the hour by splitting up our 60 minute break into 10 minute breaks.
Walk and talk
If you talk on the phone a lot in your job, use this as an excuse to walk around. If you can get a headset or already have one, this is the best way to achieve this so that you can walk freely without being chained to your desk. This is an easy way to burn more calories throughout the day and limit your time being sedentary.
Utilise your commute
If you have a long commute, this only adds to your time sitting down and will reduce the amount of time you have to exercise or hit the gym. One option is to run or cycle to work. Of course, it can be difficult to freshen up after cycling to work but there are plenty ways you can do this and it will soon become part of your routine.
If you live too far to run or cycle to work, you could still make use of your commute to burn more calories throughout the day. If you take public transport, try getting off a few stops before the one you need and walk the rest of the way. Similarly, if you drive, you could park further away and walk the rest of the way to the office.
While it's true that standing too long can be bad for you, sitting at a desk all day is far worse and could increase your risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. If you are able, get yourself a standing desk so that you can spend at least part of the day standing. If this is not an option for you, make excuses to walk around by visiting colleagues instead of talking to them on the phone and standing up while doing tasks like filing. By standing more, you will naturally burn more calories throughout the day and it will prevent other health issues such as shortened muscles and muscular dystrophy which are both associated with sitting all day.
Exercise at your desk
There are lots of reasons to workout at work, especially as sitting for prolonged periods of time is proven to be very detrimental to our health. There are lots of easy exercises you can do at your desk, such as chair squats and desk dips.
Functional training is all about movements not muscles. Instead of focusing on a muscle in isolation, functional training looks at how the muscles work together to improve the way we “function” in everyday movement.
What is Functional Movement?
Author, speaker, and pro trainer Nick Tuminello explains what is meant by functional movement. “Many personal trainers define “functional training” as exercises using three-dimensional movements or standing on unstable surfaces. Many strength coaches feel that “functional training” has to do with just getting stronger in the basic lifts. Many physical therapists and corrective exercise-oriented trainers think that “functional training” is about regaining your muscle balance and fundamental movement ability before you begin doing either 3D exercises or the basic lifts.”
In truth, functional training is a combination of all these skills. Functional training is training to improve for a purpose. What this means is that functional training will differ slightly for every individual, however there are principles of movement which mimic the way the body is built to move, and these tend to apply to almost everyone.
Functional Movement Patterns
Exercise, at its very simplest, is just movement. These movements are primal; our bodies are designed to move. There are 7 basic movement patterns, which most exercises will fall into. Practising exercises which develop and master these movement patterns will build functional strength which can be transferred into all other aspects of your life, from sport to daily function. If you watch a child, they will naturally learn these moves as they develop their range of movement.
The squat is one of our most primal movements, we are designed to be able to move in this position, which is why you will see many toddlers playing in a squat.
To complete a squat, your head should remain facing forward to keep your spine in a neutral position and you should sink your weight back into your heels and lower towards the floor. There are many arguments as to how low you should go. Your range of motion will depend on your flexibility, but it can (and should) be worked on.
The lunge is a single leg exercise, where one leg takes the lead and the second leg bends as it remains stationary. Originally we’d use this movement for functions such as stepping over obstacles or as we threw a spear to catch our dinner. Now the move is popular for building leg strength as well as to improve sports performance.
When lunging, you should keep your front knee tracking over your foot, but not in front of it. Hold your head high and make sure your back stays straight (try sticking your chest out if your shoulders arch).
The push range of movement requires you to move something away from your body, or move your body away from a force, ie the ground. We have two primary pushing movements, the vertical and horizontal push. A vertical push lifts something above your head and a horizontal press pushes it forward.
The top tip for correcting your push up is to keep your back straight and not let your chest drop; you can do this by squeezing your shoulder blades together. If you can’t keep straight, drop to your knees to make the exercise easier.
Pushups - Indoors or outdoors. Take them anywhere.
Pulling is the opposite movement to a push, bringing an object towards you. Much like with the push up we have two pulling motions, horizontal and vertical.
An example of the pull motion is a pull up. If you can’t do a full pull up you can start with negatives and work your way up.
This is where our third plane of motion gets involved and the movements become more functional. Here we involve the transverse plane.
If you think about lunging down and reaching across your body, or throwing a ball, running, or even walking, most human movement has some element of a rotation involved.
You bend your torso by hinging at the hips. This is one of the most commonly used movements; think of how many times you may bend throughout the day, to open a drawer, pick up your bag, tie your shoes.
Taking the weight through your hips, glutes, and legs is the key to lifting weight in a bent over position. This is done by keeping your low back in a neutral, to slightly arched position, as you bend over to lift an object off the ground.
Arch your back and you're prone to all sorts of injuries, in particular a herniated disk. Ouch.
Walking, jogging, running and sprinting all require a combination of movement patterns which we define as gait. This covers all our movement patterns required to keep the body in motion.
In order for our bodies to move in these particular ranges of motion, our muscles have to work together to create movement. Where bodybuilding isolates muscle groups, functional training brings them together in what we call muscle slings.
Anterior Oblique System:
External and internal oblique with the opposing leg’s adductors and intervening anterior abdominal fascia.
Posterior Oblique System:
The lat and opposing gluteus maximus.
Deep Longitudinal System:
Erectors, the innervating fascia and biceps femoris.
Glute medius and minimus and the opposing adductors of the thigh.
The systems tell us which muscles work together, and help us to analyses how to notice gaps in the sling to develop improved movement.
Anterior Oblique System
The obliques help provide stability and mobility in gait. They are both important in providing that initial stability during the stance phase of gait (running etc.) and then contribute to pulling the leg through during the swing phase. This system is important in helping the body create more stability as speed increases in activities such as sprinting, but also as important as the body tries to decelerate during change of direction.
Posterior Oblique System
This is most commonly used during gait movements where the glute max of one hip works with the lat of the opposing side to create tension in the thoracolumbar fascia. The action of these muscles along with the fascial system is thought to fight the rotation of the pelvis that would occur during gait as well as store energy to create more efficient movement.
Deep Longitudinal System
This system uses both the thoracolumbar fascia and paraspinal system to create kinetic energy above the pelvis, while the biceps femoris acts as a relay between the pelvis and leg. What is also important to note is the relationship between the biceps femoris and anterior tibialis, which creates stability and helps build as well as release kinetic energy to help more efficient movement.
The lateral system provides lateral stability. The lateral system is often used to create stability in the pelvis during walking, stepping, etc.
Squats - a pulse-raising exercise you can do anywhere
Functional Training is training for life
If you haven’t tried functional movements or training slings, try adding moves which challenge these areas into your routine to improve your training.
Cycling to work is a fantastic habit and should be encouraged wherever possible. Cycling to work is great for your health, it's great for the environment, it allows you to incorporate more exercise into your busy day, and will save you on commuting costs! Unfortunately, if your commute is uphill or a good few miles away, chances are you'll get to work a sweaty mess and feeling rotten all day. Follow these tips to freshen up after cycling to work and for all your cycling to work essentials.
How to clean up at work after a commute
Some people are lucky enough to have a shower at work. If this is the case for you, this is probably your best option. Of course, you'll need to make sure you have enough time to get ready and that you have everything you need like a towel and change of clothes. However, if you plan on cycling to work and have no shower, there are plenty of other options.
Whether you are cycling 3 miles to work or cycling 30 miles to work, you might end up getting sweaty. The best thing you can do to instantly feel better is to change your clothes when you get to work. Change out of your cycling to work clothes into something dry and clean. Freshen up with baby wipes and a fresh spritz of deodorant to control any odour.
Thankfully nowadays there are active tops you can wear which will prevent any sweat patches forming and even prevent odour. The Sundried Olperer t-shirt is made from highly functional recycled fabrics which block odour and prevent sweat marks so that you will still feel super fresh when you get to work.
Cycling to work essentials
Cycling to work clothes
Wearing a separate set of clothes for your commute is paramount for being comfortable throughout the rest of the day. There's nothing worse than sitting in sweaty clothes as you cool down and then start to feel cold! Make sure you have an outfit with sweat-wicking technical tops and flexible trousers or leggings so that you can be comfortable on the ride and then change into your smart work clothes when you get to the office.
It goes without saying that an extra dose of deodorant when you get to the office will go a long way.
These will be your best friend if you don't have a shower at work. You can wipe your face and underarms with baby wipes or any type of sanitary wipe in order to freshen up and remove any sweat. Taking a towel will then also allow you to wipe away any moisture and make you feel more comfortable. Scented wipes may also be even better, depending on your preference.
Bike rack with panniers
But how do you transport your lunch and work clothes on the bike? Taking a saddlebag or two is the best way, and if you roll your work clothes in the right way, they won't get wrinkled. You could also put a dryer sheet in with your work clothes so that they don't smell stale when you get them out to put on.
Top tips to make your commute (and work day) more bearable
Save the sweat for the way home
When cycling to work, you are not on a mission to improve your VO2 max and get a new power PR. Take it easy and really take your time. If you go slow enough and keep your heart rate low, you may not even break a sweat. If you do want to use this as time to add exercise into your day, push hard on the way home when you know you can shower as soon as you get in.
Give yourself plenty of time
As above, you need to be able to take it slow, so allowing yourself plenty of time is important. You will also need time once you arrive to freshen yourself up. If you are rushing, you will just end up more flustered and sweaty.
Respect the weather
If it is raining or very hot, you know you will be more of a mess when you arrive. A crisp, dry spring or autumn day is the perfect time to commute by bike, not the height of summer. If it gets particularly hot in your city, just bear this in mind and plan accordingly.