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Workplace Wellness and Cubicle Culture

Most jobs today require you to be stuck at a cubicle. If you are lucky, you have an ergonomic chair that allows you to maintain beautiful posture. As a physically active person I often cringe at the amount of time I spend behind a desk. Entering the workforce definitely took a toll on my body. I went from a campus-walking, rugby-playing, gym-going individual to sitting behind a desk 40+ hours a week. I attempted to adjust my gym routine, only to be inconsistent due to the demands of my job and travel. I struggled to strike a balance between meeting the demands of the job and a lifestyle. At 22, I found myself having aches and pains my grandfather never even complained of and experienced a slight weight gain.

Cubicle culture is often seen as the gateway to a sedentary lifestyle. However, as are most things in life, your level of physical activity is entirely under your control. An article on the evolution of workplace-wellness investments outlines the millions of dollars and countless initiatives taken to encourage a healthy workforce in the U.S. Workplace-wellness investments such as Healthy People 2000 and 2020 campaigns, the building of on-site gyms, full physicals for employees and many more highlight a national affinity with “being healthy.” It is no secret that adopting a culture of health is a pillar of success for any corporation/organization. So what about you? How many years have you been in the workforce? On a level of 1-10 how sedentary is your work life? Have you experienced the same problems I did?

  1. Aches and pains: Improper posture and ignoring ergonomics is the number one cause of aches and pains when it comes to a desk job. Make sure your keyboard, typing style, distance between your arms and your computer all support optimal posture. I found this video to be very helpful.

2. Slight weight gain: Whether the weight gain is from the job, or just life in general it can be cured! Yes, you can easily lose and maintain a healthy weight even if you have a desk job. Most of us do not have hours to spend at the gym. At least not most days. Studies show that even 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per day aids in weight loss and an increase in cardiovascular function, contributing to optimal health. Wake up early to get in your cardio, or take a 20-30 minute walk during your lunch break. Take your co-workers with you! The internet is also a plethora of information for efficient 30 minute at home workouts. Chop up the plan and complete some of these exercises and stretches at your desk when you feel drowsy. 30 minutes a day is all it takes. If you can add strength-training somewhere in the mix that will speed your weight loss process as lean muscle is more efficient at burning fat. Keep 5-10 pound weights at your desk!

Priyanka Oza is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Profile Photo Terrence Hill

Good points! Even with breaks for fitness, sitting is bad for you. That’s why I have transitioned to a standing desk both at work and while teleworking. My next step – a treadmill desk. No matter how ergonomic your chair, it is better for your health to stand and move around as much as possible.

Profile Photo Darrell Hamilton

The slow weight gain certainly hits soon after college. I’ve been out of college 32 years now and at my peak I was 48 lbs higher than my college weight. It was only 1 to 2 pounds per year, but it was every year. Two years ago, I was on yet another travel assignment and found yet another hotel with a promise of a gym — and it was not available. I told my wife that what I needed was an exercise routine that I could do between the beds in a double queen room in a hotel. My wife took that as a personal challenge and found a pseudo-yoga on the internet (its DDP Yoga if you are interested). Most of the routines are in the 20-25 minute range. I have been slowly reversing the weight gain. I have also found that aches have also gone away and my blood pressure has been coming down. I currently have only 20 more lbs to drop to get back to my college weight.

The key to exercise and weight loss is to realize that it took you years to put it on, it will take years to take it off (assuming you want to do it safely). You have to find something that you can do consistently – which is far more important than intesity. I enjoy a brisk walk, but some days it is rainiing or I just don’t feel like it. However, I have found that the short, zero-impact routines that I do now are nearly impossible to come up with an excuse to miss. I still go for walks, but I don’t get stressed if I miss a day due to the weather because I know that I did at least something before I came to work in the first place.

Profile Photo Priyanka R. Oza

Thank you all for the comments! Darrell, I feel you. I am 20 pounds heavier then my high school weight and it has just been five years. However, I have been lifting weights, but the weight has not come down. My diet is fine, but I have been struggling to lose the pounds. It is such a journey isn’t it? With my hectic schedule it is a challenge for me to always hit the gym as well. I have adopted the philosophy that moving is better then not. So, I will do yoga in my apartment, go for a walk, do some push ups, etc. Anything to move! Glad you liked the article.