Q: I work on a computer all day. Are there exercises I can do while working at my desk?
A: Unfortunately, with the advent of modern technology, and as a side effect of living in a high-tech world, comes the sad fact that this advancement comes at a price—it makes our workday conducive to a sedentary lifestyle. The danger in living a sedentary lifestyle is that it predisposes us to creating a caloric imbalance on the calorie expenditure side of the equation. If we expend too few calories on the physical activity side of the equation and overconsume too many calories (a simple task in our high-calorie, high-fat convenience food world) on the calories side, then we gain weight. The lack of enough physical activity is what many health professionals believe is partially responsible for the obesity epidemic in our nation today.
Consider that most Americans are completely sedentary throughout their day. We work sitting at a computer all day; we sit in traffic while driving to and from work and perhaps even driving through the restaurant take-out window for meals; after work we head for the couch, where we sit in front of the TV for relaxation or again at our computers; and then it’s off to sleep. Keep in mind that these are all completely sedentary activities. For better health and weight control we must combat this sedentary behavior by making an attempt to get in some calorie-burning physical activity in our day somewhere, somehow. Thus, your question is a very important one because Americans must learn to become more physically active.
Here are two suggestions for fitting in more physical activity into your day. First off, wear a pedometer (clip it on first thing in the morning and take it off last thing at night) and see how many steps you get in daily. America On the Move Foundation is a national nonprofit organization designed to improve the health and quality of life of Americans. They suggest adding in an extra 2,000 steps to your daily routine to get you on the road to health and fitness. Second, when at your computer, make it a habit to get up and stretch, walk around the room for at least 5 to 10 minutes every hour. Taking a short break and logging in 200 steps every hour would almost give you the extra 2000 steps the America On The Move Foundation recommends.