How To Get Enough Exercise, Even With A Desk Job

Melanie Thomassian Health Pro
  • We've become a nation of desk potatoes, wouldn't you agree? When was the last time you had to wash your clothes by hand, or even had to get up from your armchair to change the television channel?

    To add to this, very few of us are involved in intense physical labor in our day jobs. In fact, many occupations involve standing at retail desks, or sitting behind a computer desk all day, with virtually no movement.

    In the 2006 Canadian report Physical Activity Among Canadians Workers, 85% said they "strongly agree" that physical activity helps people complete their work more effectively.

    This is good news, right? Yet, many of us still don't take the time out to exercise.

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    Studies have shown that what you do at your place of work influences how active you are overall. Therefore, almost everyone would benefit from being more physically active in there working life.

    To add to this, increasing physical activity will not only make your day more enjoyable, and less stressful, but your heart will also be stronger as a result.

    So, are you active enough?

    Ask yourself these questions:

    • Do you take the stairs whenever possible?
    • Do you frequently walk over to your colleagues desk, rather than calling or emailing them?
    • Do you take 10,000 steps each day? Try using a pedometer to find out.
    • Do your work shoes show any sign of wear after a year?
    • Are your clothes fitting tighter than they were last year?

    Many of us find it difficult to fit exercise into our busy lives, and exercise always seems to be one thing we can easily put on the back burner!

    The great news is, however, you don't have to exercise in one long session to see benefits. By simply working out 10 - 15 minutes at a time you can achieve a workout, which is just as effective. This is good news!

    Could you manage three or four of these 10 - 15 minute slots every day? If you can, you'll be well on your way to reaching the recommended amount of exercise.

    Here are a 6 simple tips to help you on your way:

    1. Get off the bus a few stops earlier and walk 10 minutes to get to work.
    2. Swap your chair for an exercise ball to encourage a healthier sitting position and work your abs at the same time - just take care though, you could end up in an embarrassing heap on the floor!
    3. Take one 5-minute power walk in the morning, and one in the afternoon around the corridors of your workplace.
    4. Squeeze in 10 minutes at lunchtime for a brisk walk. You'll feel so much better for getting outside in the fresh air.
    5. Visit the toilet on a different floor each time, using the stairs, and taking them two at a time to work your legs, and get your heart rate pumping.
    6. At home put the annoying advert breaks to good use by doing a few push-up, sit-ups, or weightlifting exercises.

    Journal your exercise progress

    Keeping an exercise journal will help highlight how you're progressing over time. I suggest noting down:

    • Day and date
    • Activity
    • Exertion level - low, medium, or high intensity
    • Time spend

    So, for example you may say:

    • "Jogging, high-intensity, 25 minutes"
    • "Pilates, medium-intensity, 1 hour"
    • "Sit-ups, medium-intensity, 15 x 2 reps"

    After a couple of weeks take a look back over your log - have you remained on the same level of intensity over the weeks? For maximum benefit, keep upping the pace of your workout on a steady, consistent basis.

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    Most importantly, have fun with your exercise; it should be something you look forward to, so find activities that suit you personally!


    Related posts:

    Boost Your Metabolism for Better Heart Health

    Make Your Metabolism Work for You (and Your Heart)

    Know Your Metabolism Quiz

    Melanie Thomassian is a professional dietitian, and author of the award winning

Published On: October 15, 2008