Get in Shape at Your Desk

Jan. 1, 2008
Employees can become healthier, more productive and more alert by exercising throughout the workday all while remaining at their desks. For many busy

Employees can become healthier, more productive and more alert by exercising throughout the workday — all while remaining at their desks.

For many busy office-bound employees, sitting all day can cause a host of problems: back pain, muscle tightness, headaches, musculoskeletal problems, weight gain, depression, tension and decreased motivation. Because time constraints can prevent workers from engaging in regular exercise, fitness guru Kathy Kaehler proposed that employees engage in office workouts to combat many of those ailments.

For instance, hitting the stairs, running in place, doing lunges or pushups or taking brisk walks around the building are ways for office employees to get their heart rates up. Even if workers feel too desk-bound during the day to get up and move, they can still stretch, strengthen their muscles and engage in short cardiovascular sessions right in their chairs. Employees can place their hands on their desks and walk backwards to get in position for a round of desk pushups, try a set of punching exercises or even “run” in place while remaining in their chairs.

“… An office workout is crucial since many Americans work long hours sitting at desks with very limited physical activity,” Kaehler pointed out.

According to Kaehler, a workplace exercise program like FLOW, fitness software that combines five-minute video exercises, a nutrition center, a virtual coach and automated desktop reminders, can encourage employees to shed their sedentary office lifestyles and begin getting in shape. The program's exercises target various body parts, including the chest, biceps and triceps, shoulders, abdominal muscles, the back, legs and buttocks.

FLOW creator Renee Nasajon stated that such a workplace exercise program “facilitates the circulation of blood, elevates the oxygenation of your brain, releases tension from your muscles, gives you a greater capacity for concentration, creates a better mood and decreases cravings for sweets, caffeine and tobacco.”

A FLOW pilot study shows that employees who exercised at their desks lowered their blood pressure, felt more energetic and alert, experienced less tension and increased their physical activity outside working hours. Employers hoping to see those results in their own workers might encourage staff to step up the activity level in the office — desks or no desks.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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