If you have a sedentary job, you have to keep active throughout the day, even when you’re not doing a workout. Here’s how to stop your job from holding you back…
Do you enjoy your exercise routine? If you’ve found a regular workout plan you enjoy, you’re ahead of people who find exercise a chore. However, apart from following your workout plan, it’s important not to sit still for the rest of the time. You can’t expect one hour of working out to undo all of the sitting down and inactivity that may occur for the remaining 23 hours of your day.
It’s important to think of exercise as part of your lifestyle and not just an activity that you make time to do for 20 or 30 minutes a day. Try to be as active as possible during the day so that you can burn as many calories as possible. Here’s how to ensure your job doesn’t get in the way of your fitness goals…
A job that’s largely sedentary
This may sound like a challenge if you have a sedentary job that involves sitting still most of the time, but there are things you can do to not only increase calorie burn and break up the amount of time you spend sitting. And it’s worth making an effort to move around as much as you can, for health reasons, as well as for the benefit of your waistline.
There have been many articles written describing how a sedentary working life is to blame for a whole host of medical issues, from musculoskeletal complaints to cardiovascular problems. It’s also not going to help your weight efforts.
Long periods without moving
The main thing to look out for is sitting for prolonged periods without moving. It might sound overly simple to say, ‘Remember to move,’ but it’s all too easy to get so stuck into a task with the result that hours can pass before you notice you haven’t moved.
Too much time in one position will lead to short and tight hip flexors and hamstrings, which can create a tilt in your pelvis when you stand, move and exercise. This can lead to lower back pain. It’s also likely that prolonged sitting may lead to you slouching forwards, resulting in tight chest muscles and a weakness around the mid back. This slouched position isn’t ideal for working, as it restricts oxygen flow to the lungs and brain, and if you become conditioned to adopting this position and it creeps into your running, you’ll begin to notice you’re not breathing as easily during exercise, so try to get yourself into a more upright position, with your shoulders back and your chest open.
There are three quick and simple steps you can follow to balance a life of sitting down. Firstly, avoid slouching. Secondly, move as much as you can during every day. Finally, take up a regular yoga class and incorporate a few yoga stretches into your daily routine.
A job that’s largely standing still
Although standing is generally better for you than sitting, it’s unfortunately all too easy to miss out on the advantages that working in this type of environment, such as in a shop, can bring.
Back injuries are common among standing workers, often due to the fact that, because they’re standing but not moving around much, they tend to adopt some unusual positions in an attempt to stay comfortable.
Best standing posture
The ideal standing posture is to have your feet hip-width apart, toes forwards, knees slightly flexed with an imaginary straight line moving from your ear lobes through your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. Shoulders should be back and relaxed, and your chin tucked in a little.
Unfortunately, this position doesn’t feel very natural, so we don’t maintain it for very long, instead shifting our weight from side to side, slouching into our hips, swaying our lower back or dropping our shoulders forward. None of these positions are great for the skeletal system and can create muscle weaknesses or imbalances.
If you find yourself standing still a lot as part of your job, you must make the effort to maintain good posture and incorporate as many micro movements into your routine as you can. This means gently transferring your weight from side to side and forwards and backwards, as well as trying out a few mini squats and calf raises, to keep the blood flowing.
Torso twists and side bends will keep your top half mobile and shoulder rolls will prevent tension building in your neck. Adding Pilates to your training schedule will help strengthen the areas of your body that will keep you standing correctly each day, so that your posture is better when you exercise.
Coping with being desk-bound
If you are largely desk-bound during the day, it’s going to make exercise in the evening a tough thing to do, as you’ll be tight and stiff. Set reminders on your phone to get up and walk around and stretch, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Get a headset to use while you’re on the phone and take calls standing up. Do meetings on the move – ask your colleagues if they will walk and talk with you and do a walk around the block instead of sitting in a meeting room. If you don’t get a full one-hour for lunch, take two or three 15-minute breaks during the day to go out for a walk and burn some calories.
Finally, make sure you burn at least 10,000 calories every day, without fail. You can top up your activity levels gradually during the day – three ten minute walks throughout the day will all add up and will enable you to incorporate regular activity into your day.