If you have a desk job, you might think that spending an hour at the gym every morning is enough to offset the negative effects of a full day of sitting at a desk. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
While gym time does burn calories and build muscle, if you want a lasting impact on your health and body, you still need to make a point to get up and move throughout the day. If you’re not sure where to start, try the following.
Maximize Your Gym Workout
If you’re focused on weight loss the obvious answer might seem like dedicating your entire gym workout to cardio. However, you’re going to see better results if you also dedicate time to strength training. While it might be tempting to use a machine for the latter, stick to free weights as they engage more muscle groups.
What you eat before and after a workout can impact its success as well. Before hitting the gym you should eat complex carbs, like whole grain toast, to fuel your workout. After, you should eat a source of casein protein such as Greek yogurt to help repair and build muscle.
If you want to build bulk rather than just lose weight or maintain your current fitness, you should consult a body building supplements guide to ensure you’re giving your body what it needs to refuel and rebuild after workouts.
Take a Break From Sitting
It’s recommended by most doctors that every half hour of sitting should be interrupted by five minutes of activity. If every half an hour isn’t viable, try to get up at least once an hour. If you can’t leave your desk, just stand and do a couple of leg stretches or squats to get blood flowing.
When you have a ten-minute break or go on lunch, don’t just sit at your desk or in the kitchenette. If you can’t find the floor space to fit in a quick stretch or yoga routine, spend as much of your break as you can taking a walk.
Do It the Hard Way
If you have to go up or down floor levels, make a point of using the stairs when you’re able. When it comes to bathroom breaks, visit restrooms far away from your workstation. If your work takes you to another department or part of the building, be sure to take the long way around so you can get those steps in.
If you work within walking distance of your home, leave your car in the driveway and set out on foot during warmer months. A distance of three miles takes the average person about an hour to walk, depending on weather and environmental factors, so be sure to plan ahead.
If you live too far away to walk, park your car as far away from your place of employment as you are safely able to. This way you can have a couple of minutes to stretch your legs before and after your work day.
Turn Your Desk Into a Gym
You might not want to power lift in the office, but keeping a desk bike or step machine next to your chair is a subtle way to exercise while you answer phone calls and emails. Some people have switched out their chairs for balance balls so they can work on their posture and core strength, while others have said goodbye to sitting entirely with standing desks.
Pilates is a workout system that focuses on both flexibility and strength, and many exercises can be modified to be done from the comfort of your chair. There are also associated pieces of equipment such as resistance bands and pilates rings that can add oomph to exercises and increase their impact.
If you stay sitting throughout the day, it tells your body that your muscles aren’t needed, and it starts breaking them down. By making opportunities to be active throughout the day, you won’t just look better, but will also feel better.