You’ve done your crunches. Been jogging for months. And even pumped your fair share of iron at the gym. You’re officially ready for the beach. But how ready are you for the office?
Yep, though it’s something many of us rarely think about, getting in shape for the office is just as, if not more important, than getting in shape for the gym. After all, we spend the majority of our waking hours at work, moving — or not moving — around our workspaces. Though these movements may not seem as significant as those we employ during athletics, they add up over the course of the day. In order to prevent potentially career-derailing Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs) like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it’s important to move around your workspace in the most ideal way. And for that, it’s time to start getting in shape, ergonomic style. Here’s how to do just that.
1. Stand While You Work
If you think that your chair is in the end all be all in workstation technology, think again. Sitting all day is bad for your health. Not only can it lead to hunching, which in turn can cause musculoskeletal problems for your neck, shoulders, and back, but some evidence shows it may also increase your risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers. Just another fun set of consequences of that sedentary lifestyle. And why getting in shape at the office is even more crucial.
There’s an easy way to improve your fitness while you work: stand up. With the help of a standing or adjustable desk, try standing for just little bit at a time, building up to half or full days of standing as you increase your fitness. Standing will pump up those calves, but more importantly it will help keep your back and entire upper body in alignment so you’re not hunching.
You’ll also move around more naturally as your muscles work to keep you upright. This means you’ll burn more calories as you go, and you’ll keep your blood flowing to essential regions. As a result, you’ll be more engaged, alert, and ready to brainstorm brilliant new ideas.
2. Stretch at Your Desk
Not only does desk work require too sedentary of a lifestyle, but it also relies heavily on repetitive motions like typing and mousing. Even holding your back upright in a still position — or worse yet, in a hunched one — draws on singular sets of muscles. The result is that some muscles grow strong, while the muscles that complement them grow weak, since they’re rarely drawn upon. Not only can this cause fatigue in the overused muscles, but it’s also likely to lead to injury around the region.
Weightlifting at the gym can help address this, but so, too, can stretching at your desk in order to engage the muscles that are normally sitting there unused. Even better: do a little office yoga. From seated twists and
backbends to neck stretches, you’ll engage a wider range of muscles and increase blood flow all around. Who said getting in shape had to be strenuous?
3. Take a Hike
Overall, one of the best things you can do to improve your health around the office is to sneak more movement into your day. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Stay well hydrated so you’re more motivated to get up for bathroom breaks. Hold walking meetings. Take the long route to your next meeting. Walk, run, or bike to and from work. You’ll burn more calories no matter what approach you take, strengthening your office muscles along the way.
4. Insist on Ergonomics
Of course, getting in shape — whether in the gym or in the office — is only as good as the equipment you are using. A rickety, thirty-year old upright bike at the gym isn’t going to be nearly as effective as a brand new one that’s been remodeled to suit the latest fitness research. The same goes for office equipment.
Working on a traditional, flat keyboard all day can increase your risk of developing a painful Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The same goes for mousing all day on a non-ergonomic mouse, and for hunching over a laptop. In contrast, a Goldtouch split ergonomic keyboard pulls apart in the middle and tents vertically, allowing you to find the perfect fit for you — one that will put no strain on your wrists and hands. Similarly, Goldtouch mice support your wrists and hands as you type. And a monitor arm or a tablet and laptop stand will bring the height of your devices up to the right level, so your neck remains in a neutral position.
Together, ergonomic products can improve the health of your musculoskeletal system. Not only does this prevent pain in both the short and long term, but it also helps increase your efficiency, productivity, and even the quality of the work and ideas you produce, as you’ll have more of your mind free to concentrate on something other than your pain.
This summer, don’t just think about your beach bod — it’s time to think about your health around the office, too. So pump that iron at the gym, sure — but also go ergonomic, get standing, and get moving too!