A guest post by Jonathan Reggolb
Now that it’s bathing suit season, moms across the country are slimming down, playing outside with their kids and hitting the pool. But what about all those dads – and working moms – who are stuck in offices all day? Are there things they can do to avoid that sedentary, 9 hours of sitting a day that leaves them feeling tired and out of shape?
Fortunately, there are. Perhaps the best option is either to run before the day begins or hit a nearby gym around lunchtime. But we also have to be realistic – with kid chaos in the mornings and evenings and a hectic atmosphere all day at work, many of us just can’t get in a proper workout as often as we like. And science is showing that even gym activity doesn’t counteract the strains that sitting all day puts on our bodies. Moving around while at work not only helps reduce weight, it also strengthens joints, improves circulation and muscle endurance, enhances flexibility, and can heighten mood – and who couldn’t use that this summer?
The key is to begin with small steps. All of us have tried crash fitness programs, only to abandon them within days or weeks. But a bit of change here and there can make a real difference. Everyone knows the basics – take the stairs and not the elevator, etc. Instead of rehashing those, here are some less-well-known hints for moms and dads stuck at work all day while the rest of family is running around outside:
- Stand while talking on the phone. Experts suggest that individuals should stand for two hours or more per day. Carving out additional time from busy parenting lives is very difficult, of course, so I’ve started standing every time I talk on the phone. Not only does this ensure that I’m up and out of my chair, but it also seems to make my conversations shorter!
Stand while reading. Ambitious office workers can look into getting a standing desk, but these can be quite pricey. I’ve found it easier and more convenient to put a box on top of my desk and stand in front of it while reading papers placed on top. It’s a free, automatic standing desk that I can dissemble in ten seconds. (Of course, really ambitious workers can put together a “pedal desk” with a small cycle underneath.)
- Walk, don’t email, around the corner. I find myself emailing coworkers who sit literally next door. If you can spare the inevitable chatting time, it’s worth getting up and strolling by to talk instead of type.
- Park further from the office. If you have reserved parking, ask for a spot at the farthest distance from the office. Not only will you be popular with your colleagues (who will be competing for the closest spots) but you will ensure that you get in a bit of extra walking time morning and evening. If you are dropped off by a spouse or friend, get out of the car a block or two away from work. If you catch a cab during the day, do the same.
- Take a break every two hours. Two hours is plenty to sit in front of a computer without a break. Stop, stand up, focus your eyes on something else to prevent eyestrain, and do a minute or two stretching or take a short walk inside the office.
There are no doubt other hints too, and I’d love for readers to send in their own. Remember – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and making huge lifestyle changes is unlikely to stick. Try to sprinkle in some of these new activities gradually and you might just shake things up – maybe before swimsuit season is over!