Work It


By John Parker
Photos by Brevin Blach

Technology has streamlined the workplace, making legions of workers more efficient-not to mention deskbound and Kit Kat-and-coffee-fueled.

Within a single generation, the average American is burning far fewer calories per day, and our sedentary work practices have led to an increase in chronic lower back pain, carpel tunnel syndrome, obesity and diabetes.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans are consuming almost 500 calories more per day than they were 30 years ago. More calories plus more time seated in front of the computer equals a country of mouse potatoes, pudgy automatons with decreased flexibility and sluggish performance.

Healthy employees are good for business, taking fewer sick days and remaining mentally alert. And given the rising cost of health insurance, it’s critical that employers encourage workers to reduce their waist-bandwidth.

That’s why innovative companies like Qualcomm offer their employees access to free, on-site gyms, kick-boxing classes and tennis lessons. Encinitas watch manufacturer, Nixon, encourages its employees to stay active with open office floor plans, long weekends and exercise reward programs.

Seasoned office jocks may have no trouble tackling some cardio at lunch or after work. For those with more hectic schedules, here are some ways to keep fit on the job by applying simple dietary tips and quick, covert office exercises throughout the workday.

Boost Productivity, Blast Fat, Achieve Balance

Inactivity is health’s kryptonite. Meet on the move instead of in the conference room. Propose the idea of having a meeting while walking around your office building or while engaging in yoga to burn up to 10 times more calories. Standing while talking on the phone, typing or firing returning e-mails allows your body to stretch, and your spine to realign.

To increase circulation for a mental and physical boost, stretch three times a day, holding each position for 10-20 seconds.

Mouse Potato Fitness
Here are a few exercises you can perform at the office without disturbing coworkers (at the risk of ridicule or reprimand by corpulent bosses). Perform two sets of 15-20 repetitions for each exercise three times a day and mix it up with your own favorite moves.

LEGS-Chair Squats: From a seated position, with your feet on the floor and shoulder-width apart, stand slowly. Next, descend back to the chair, slowly, concentrating on good form. Repeat.

ARMS/CHEST-Desk Pushups: Standing in front of your desk, grasp the edge of the desk with your hands at shoulder width. Step back so that your body forms a 45-degree angle with desk. Keeping the glutes and abdominals tight, slowly lower your body toward the desk, and then push back up to the starting position and repeat.

ABS/CHEST-Office Planks: Lie on the floor facing down. While flexing the abdominals and glutes to keep your body in-line, use your forearms and hands (with elbows shoulder width apart) to support your weight such that only your forearms, hands and toes are touching the ground. Raise the body 8 to 10-inches from the ground, maintaining good form for 30-60 seconds. Repeat.

-John Parker is a certified strength and conditioning specialist who trains clients at FIT Athletic Club downtown.