Is your desk job killing you? Of the 2000 office workers recently surveyed three of four only leave their desks for cup of coffee or to visit the restroom. Two in five of those same workers even stay at their desks to eat lunch and one in five said they have gained nearly 20 pounds over the year.
We work 40 or more hours each week and only get up from our desks three or four times a day and we often spend four hour stretches sitting without getting up. This sedentary office routine is hazardous to your health!
Those hours at your desk can cause a great deal of neck, shoulder, and back pain. Long hours in front of your computer screen can also result in poor posture. Long periods of sitting have also recently been linked to an increased risks for obesity, diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Improve Your Daily Routine
One simple solution is to find ways to fit more exercise into their daily routine. There are simple and effective exercises that can be done while you work – even at your desk (deskercise). The first step to offset these risks from sitting is to simply stand more. Stand every time you talk on the phone, stand when you check your email, use one of the new sit-stand workstations
Walk more. Find ways to incorporate movement and activity through walking into your daily routine. Start with your routine trips to the office copier or the restroom, find a longer or more challenging route that involves stairs and distance or even laps. If this longer distance interferes with your (job) productivity, then concentrate on completing your new walking route in a shorter amount of time each time, making it a “race” if you will.
Our bodies were designed for movement and activity. Being chained to a desk all day goes against that design but can be addressed by incorporating a few office stretches and seated exercises into your daily office routine to help improve your posture, and increase the range of motion in your neck, back and joints, and stretch those unused muscles.
Stretching and office exercises may also improve your concentration and increase your productivity in the office.
Here are a few stretches that you can perform while seated at your desk followed by a few examples of simple office exercises:
Seated Exercises and Office Stretches
Start with Neck Circles. With your arms at your sides, lower you chin to your chest and turn and tilt your head to the side and make slow deliberate circles. Breathing slowly as you circle for 30 seconds and then change direction for another 30 seconds.
Follow with Shoulder Rolls. Roll both shoulders slowly, lifting your shoulders up, back, down and forward with exaggerated movements. Do a set of ten forward and then ten to the rear.
Now the Neck and Upper Back Stretch. Holding your hands behind your back with palms facing away from your body slowly lower your chin to your chest and take ten deep breaths in and out. Turn your head to the left while pulling your right wrist down with your left and hold. Now turn to the right and pull your left wrist down.
Now push your chair away from your desk and do some Seated Leg Extensions and Single Leg Lifts. Extend one leg in front of you and hold for a count of twenty. Switch legs for another set of twenty. Now extend one leg in front and while keeping it straight lift and hold the extended leg as high as you can for a count of twenty. Do another set of twenty for the opposite leg.
Try some Office Push Ups. Office Push Ups can be done against the wall or against your desk. Lean against your desk at a 45-degree angle and start pushing. Office Push Ups work your chest and triceps. When you are ready to increase the difficulty do your pushups while flat on the floor. Once that becomes too easy do your push ups with your feet elevated on your chair.
Try these very basic office stretches and exercises to help relieve stress, stretch and strengthen your muscles and help improve your posture.
Foods that Keep You Fit
There are also healthy foods that you can eat in the office to maintain (or lose) bodyweight and some may also improve your concentration. Try adding these foods to your diet:
Foods high in antioxidants like blueberries, fruits, and tomatoes. These foods increase blood flow to the brain and protect brain cells from oxidative stress and also decrease the effects of age-related conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s (study on blueberries and Alzheimer). Berries, especially blueberries improve learning and motor skills while delaying memory decline.
Snack on walnuts, flax seeds or try adding slices of avocado to your sandwich or salad at lunch. These foods are high in beneficial fatty acids and are great for improving your concentration.
These same omega-3 fatty acids promote brain function and are even being used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Bananas are a good portable snack and are high in dopamine – a brain chemical shown to increase motivation and concentration. Positive traits at work.
Eggs are a rich source of protein, zinc, vitamins A, D and E and their yolks contain micronutrients plus lecithin and iron which are an important ‘brain foods’ contributing to memory retention and concentration. Add hard boiled eggs to snacks, lunch or sandwiches and salads.
Breakfast has been shown to help with brain function. Children who eat a healthy breakfast score higher on tests than those who skip breakfast. Be careful to avoid high-calorie and high-fat breakfasts loaded with sugar and fat. Frosted cereals and donuts are not good choices.
These healthy foods combined with your new office workout and healthy approach to changing your sedentary lifestyle will increase your overall health, fitness level and improve your mental alertness, concentration and productivity.
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