How to Stay Fit When You Return to the Office
The recent health crisis shook up numerous industries – from banking to food and beverage. While many businesses took a hit, the fitness sector experienced a boom. It was as if people thought the best way to combat a rampaging plague was to build up their constitutions. Besides, with most of us locked down, there wasn’t much to do except to reverse a lifetime of bad habits and work out.
A 2021 Bloomberg article reported that people became more conscientious about their health choices during the quarantines. Virtual fitness classes were booked from 30% to 50% more. It makes sense. Apart from the obvious lack of activity, physical exercise was an accessible answer to combat the glum atmosphere caused by the pandemic.
COVID-19 is here to stay and after two years, people have learned to coexist with it. But as things return to normal, would we sink back to our old ways?
The Effects of a Physical Office on Exercise
According to a 2017 New York Post article, office work discourages people’s will to exercise. Based on a survey of 1,000 workers, only 1 in 10 sweat it out regularly and only one-third exercised frequently. Meanwhile, 6 out of 10 respondents confessed that sitting in a chair all day is their routine.
A year later, another study, the Journal of Novel Physiotherapies, explained that sitting down was becoming a pervasive effect in the workplace. It was kind of like a persistent plague on its own. Its research showed that desk workers sit eight to 12 hours on average a day during workdays. The weekends aren’t much better. Those numbers dip only slightly between seven to nine and a half hours.
While prolonged sitting doesn’t seem as dangerous as motorbike racing or eating crisps, it has been linked to a higher risk for obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, high blood sugar, and more. It’s also connected to shortened life spans.
Apart from that, the busyness and worry accompanying physical office work, such as traffic and deadlines, can lead you to poor dietary choices. Instead of cooking a wholesome breakfast or lunch, you may find yourself rushing to beat the rush-hour traffic. You skip meals or settle for fast food. Are you stress eating from re-entry anxiety or just the massive workload? You could be gorging on sweets or crisps that give a fleeting mirage of happiness.
The return to “normal” may just trigger a return to not-so-good customs.
How to Integrate Exercise at Work
For many years, health organisations have recommended that 150 minutes of moderate exercise is the minimum amount to stay in tip-top shape. Broken down, that’s just 30 minutes for five days. This sounds doable, right? It doesn’t leave room for that “I’m busy excuse.”
Whether you have 30 minutes or eight to spare, here are some ways you can integrate exercise into the office.
1. Use a Standing Desk
Sitting is the new smoking right? This revolutionary invention takes the chair off your butt and forces you to stand up. Based on a 2014 paper in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, a standing desk can help you torch an extra 170 calories a day. This number assumes that you’re just stationary. However, other studies show that a standing desk encourages its users to move and walk around more.
The best part is that most standing desks these days come in a converter mode, allowing a sitting option as well as a standing one. If your office allows you to get a standing desk, then you should definitely grab that opportunity. If not, the next best thing is to use a standing desk or even your kitchen counter during those days when you work from home if you have a hybrid work situation.
2. Walk Some More
You don’t have to walk the whole way to the office if you’re not ready. However, you can add a few steps to your day. If you’re using the bus, Dart, or LUAS, get off at a stop before the office so you have an opportunity to stretch your legs a bit. Do this on the way home, too.
You can also reduce your use of the elevator. Take the stairs, it saves energy and gives you some exercise!
3. Perform Some Desk Workouts
These days, many trainers and fitness experts have managed to create exercises specifically around your desk. You can do desk push-ups, chair tricep dips, and seated leg extensions. It may look silly in the office but at least you’re getting some workout. If this is not possible, you can also do these small exercises when you’re working from home if you have a hybrid work setup.
4. Encourage Community Workouts in the Office
Working from home has changed office culture tremendously. Chances are you haven’t even met some of your colleagues. To jumpstart the much-needed office bond, why don’t you organise group workout sessions after hours? It could be a fun fitness class with an instructor or even a contest. Nothing gets people more motivated than a prize. You can also ask someone from human resources to instigate something similar.
A contest, however, might not be a sustainable way for everyone to stay on a fitness course for the long haul. If you want to avoid falling back into your pre-pandemic habits, sign up for BodySlims. This unique 10-week program trains your mind as much as your body. It includes daily motivational messages, virtual seminars, and live coaching to encourage you into caring for your body long-term. The exercises are also doable and designed for sustainability. After all, you wouldn’t want to exert so much effort for abs only to lose motivation once you get them.
Are you ready to take the first steps to a lifelong fitness journey? Join BodySlims now! Or better yet, invite your office colleagues to join in too!