How to Exercise at Work

STACK Expert Z Altug offers practical suggestions on staying active at work to prevent harmful effects of prolonged sitting.

Researchers are finding that prolonged sitting can be hazardous to your health. Exercise at work can help you reduce pain and feel refreshed at the end of the day for your workouts and leisure activities.

A study showed that 30-second micro-breaks at work—e.g., getting up and walking away from your workstation—had a positive effect on reducing discomfort in the neck, shoulder, back and hand muscles while working at a computer, particularly when breaks were taken at 20-minute intervals. A practical recommendation: take a one- to two-minute stretch break away from your computer in a standing position every 20 to 30 minutes.

These same suggestions can be applied when you are doing homework for school. Whether you sit at work or at home doing homework, the result is stiffness and pain.

To get a little more exercise or activity during your workday and homework sessions, try the following three simple tricks to prevent the harmful effects of prolonged sitting.

RELATED: Prevent Injuries With Corrective Exercises

Exercise Before Work

After you arrive at work and park your car, plan a safe walking route that will take you an extra 5 to 10 minutes to get to your office.

Exercise During Work

Take 10 to 15 minutes of your lunch break and go for a walk, preferably outdoors in bright sunlight and fresh air. Of course, this is after you have eaten a nutritious lunch while letting your brain relax. Avoid eating your lunch while you work. During your lunch break, focus on relaxing,

RELATED: How to Make the Most of Your Rest Days

Exercise During Homework

Apply the same guidelines when you do homework. Get off your computer, tablet or smartphone and walk around. Or, periodically get up, look out the window, pet your dog or get some water. Bringing oxygen to your brain through activity may even help you think more clearly and get better grades. Studies have shown that being physically fit can help you in school.

Exercise After Work

Walk back to your car on a route that takes an extra five to 10 minutes.

If you add up all the walking, you have been active anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes while at work. If you want to burn more calories, try fidgeting. Yes, this is the exact thing we all got scolded for in elementary school, but fidgeting burns calories. Fidgeting can simply mean changing positions frequently, tapping  your feet periodically, or moving your shoulders while you work at your computer. The point is not to sit there like a potted plant. Researchers actually studied this and found that people who fidget burned more calories than those who didn't fidget as much.

Another key point to remember is that after you have been sitting for awhile, avoid performing stretches where you bend forward at the trunk. The discs between your vertebrae may be in a compromised situation from prolonged sitting and bending forward (such as toe touching). These movements may lead to injury or aggravate a back condition. Skip the seated exercises while you're at work, especially if your work involves prolonged sitting. Instead, get out of your chair and walk around or do some stretches while standing.

RELATED: 2 Exercises You Should Do Every Day

References:

  • Fedewa, A. L., & Ahn, S. "The effects of physical activity and physical fitness on children's achievement and cognitive outcomes: A meta-analysis." Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 2011:82(3), 521-535
  • Galinsky T, Swanson N, Sauter S, et al."Supplementary breaks and stretching exercises for data entry operators: a follow-up field study." American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 2007;50(7):519-527.
  • Henning RA, Jacques P, Kissel GV, et al. "Frequent short rest breaks from computer work: effects on productivity and well-being at two field sites." Ergonomics. 1997;40(1):78-91.
  • Levine JA, Schleusner SJ, Jensen MD. "Energy expenditure of nonexercise activity." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2000;72(6):1451-1454.
  • McGill SM. Low Back Disorders, 2nd ed. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics, 2007.
  • Mclean L, Tingley M, Scott RN, et al. "Computer terminal work and the benefit of micro breaks." Applied Ergonomics. 2001;32(3):225-237.
  • Nachemson AL. "Disc pressure measurements." Spine (Philadelphia, 1976. 1981;6(1):93-97.
  • Nachemson AL. The lumbar spine: An orthopaedic challenge. Spine. 1976;1(1):59-71.
  • Nachemson AL. Towards a better understanding of low-back pain: a review of the mechanics of the lumbar disc. Rheumatology and Rehabilitation. 1975;14(3):129-143.


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Topics: STRETCHING | CALORIES | EXERCISE | LUNCH