Long office hours and travelling to work by bus or car can make it hard to find the time to exercise. Nicole McCreedy gives us some fun ways to squeeze it in at work.
It’s no surprise that most people spend too much time each day sitting. These habits are having a negative effect on our long-term health and are increasingly linked to being overweight and obese, the development of Type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and even an early death. How’s that for inspiration to get moving!
Experts say that those of us who work desk-based jobs should aim to stand and do light activity throughout the day. In some countries, workers are encouraged to spend up to half of their eight-hour working day standing. This may not be possible for many of us, but we can all take at least ten minutes here and there at work to fit in some physical activity.
Being active is especially important when you have diabetes. There are many benefits to regular activity, but the biggest one for diabetics is that it makes it easier to control your blood sugar levels. Regular movement can also help you avoid sore wrists, stiffness and repetitive motion injuries.
Use the space available
Making simple adjustments to your routine can help to increase your daily activity. We’ve all been told to take the stairs instead of the lift, but there are many other things you can do to inject some movement into your day. Avoid sitting at your desk during your lunch break, and instead head outside or to the parking lot for a quick stroll. If you need to take a meeting, suggest that you “walk and talk” with your colleagues. Another option is to find an empty office or conference room where you can shadow box, run on the spot or do a few walk-lunges or some yoga poses.
If you have diabetes, it’s obviously important to be aware of your blood sugar levels. Depending on the type of activity you plan to do, carry a snack or eat a 15g portion of carbohydrate beforehand to prevent low blood sugar.
Exercises to do at your desk
We asked biokineticist Ilona Padayachee and podiatrist Anette Thompson for a few exercises you can do while seated at your desk to tone your muscles and lift your heart rate, without breaking a sweat.
Top tip! Remember to repeat the exercise on each side.
- Seated toe raises: Seated upright at your desk with your core pulled in tightly, lift your toes while keeping your heels firmly on the ground. When you lower your toes, push them into the ground and pull them back. Alternate your feet. Complete 3 sets with 10 repetitions in each set.
- Seated straight-leg raises: Keep your back straight, your chest out and your shoulders down. Straighten your right leg out in front of you and tighten the quadricep muscle. Raise the foot off the floor approximately one ruler height (20 to 30 cm). Repeat on the left side.
- Leg extensions: Seated upright at your desk with your core pulled in tightly, sit on the edge of your chair and extend your right leg until it is level with your hip. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then lower your leg slowly. Alternate sides. Complete as many as you can and remember to increase your holding time slightly every week.
- Calf raises: Stand in front of a desk or other piece of furniture you can hold on to for balance. Raise your heels of the floor and slowly lower them.
- Heel raises: These can be done while standing or seated. Lift your heels up as high as possible. Keep the weight on the big toe side of your foot. Hold for two to three seconds at the top, then lower. Repeat 25 times. Heel raises improve circulation and tone the calves.
Ask the expert: Anette Thompson, Podiatrist
“Doing 300 heel raises a day is the same as going for a long walk. People who haven’t done them before should aim for 50 heel raises in a day, then gradually build up the repetitions until you can do them all in your lunchtime.”