We have A LOT of members at the gym that have jobs where they are sitting for large parts of the day on their butts while staring into a computer screen and not exercising! As human beings this isn’t a very natural thing for us to be doing! Typically, we’d be walking to find water, hunting and gathering food, climbing trees, playing with children, laying in the sun, milking cows, mending fences, gathering wood, etc..
Nowadays, we’re not nearly as active as humans traditionally were and our bodies are paying the price!
Only recently have we adopted such a sedentary lifestyle and being sedentary…..
- Leads to gaining weight – Think about how many more calories a person burns over the course of one week if they’re walking to work and have an active job versus the person that drives everywhere and sits down all day! The average American, that drives everywhere and has an office job, walks around 3km per day. The average person that doesn’t drive a car and has an active job can walk around double that! Considering that walking 1km burns roughly your body weight in calories, the more active male that walks everywhere can expect to burn 1785 more calories per week. That’s nearly one full day of food! This can add up to gaining kilos over the months and explains why people lose weight when they move to Prague without changing their diets at all!
- Causes joint pain and decreased range of motion – I very much believe in the saying, “if you don’t use it, you lose it”, especially, when it comes to movement and joint health. If you don’t exercise, sit all day and drive everywhere your body is not going to be accustomed to taking its joints through their full range of motion and then things like full range of motion squats become difficult and painful so, you do them less and then they get worse and so, the cycle continues!!
- Leads to muscle loss – Your muscles need resistance to grow. They need work! Another example of “if you don’t use it, you lose it”. It’s difficult for our bodies to maintain muscle mass. Our bodies want to be as efficient as possible and lugging around lots of heavy muscle that require a lot of energy isn’t very efficient. That’s why’ll you’ll notice your strength quickly deteriorate if you stop lifting weights for a period of time. Your body realizes that you’re not using that strength and will reduce it in order to require less calories.
So, what can we do to be less sedentary outside of the gym during our normal work week?
Well, considering that many people spend a majority of their time sitting let’s talk about what you can do during that time to incorporate some more movement into your daily routine.
Here’s a little total body routine that you can do a few times a day while you’re sitting at your desk
Sit up nice and tall and then slowly drop your shoulders and round your spine as much as you can. Repeat this slowly for 10 repetitions.
Taking your hips and knees through a big range of motion is super important. Many people that don’t exercise never squat at all! Help to protect those joints with this little exercise.
Hug one knee to your chest and hold that for five seconds. Then, extend your leg, point your toe and hold that position for five seconds. Repeat 5 times and then do the same on the other leg 5 times.
Think that you can only work your core by lying on your back? Nope! There are lots of options and one easy way to work it at your desk is to work on isometric holds or holding a position for a certain amount of time.
Start by pushing your thumbs into your belly as far as you can (your belly should be soft and relaxed) then, aggressively, push your belly out as hard as you can and hold for 2 sec. Repeat that 10 times.
Upper body pulling movements are not super easy to replicate in the office environment but one way that it can be done is to hold onto your desk, lay down underneath it and then with straight arms pull yourself up as high as you can. Try and get between 5-10 repetitions.
This one requires that you have a strong, stable desk!
Push ups on your desk are another great exercise which also require a strong, stable desk.
Start by placing your hands on your desk and then stepping back until your body is about at 45 degrees. From there you’ll lower yourself down until your chest touches the desk and then push yourself up. Again, try and get between 5-10. If you get 10 easily then it’s time to move down to the floor!
And there you have it! Start easily and do all of these movements the recommended amount of times once every 2 hours. Once you’re comfortable with that you can try increasing to once every 90min and with that you’ll be accumulating a fair bit of exercise volume throughout the day!
Set a timer for 2 hours or 90 min and stick to it!
Is this going to turn you into a super strong Greek god with chiseled abs? Definitely not. Will you look a bit silly while doing it? Most likely. But hey, it will help to keep your sedentary lifestyle at bay until you get back to the gym!
Try these exercises out and see if it makes a difference for you:)