work and health

Is your job ruining your health?

Do you work in an office job? Are you sitting all day? You could be damaging your health! Let’s find out how you can make a change and exercise right at work!

As part of working in an office environment, employees can spend a large portion of their time sitting at their desk. While this may not pose any risks to office workers throughout the day, long-term sedentary behaviours may be more harmful to your health than you think.

Statistics show that almost 70% of Australians in the workforce engage in either a sedentary lifestyle or very low levels of activity. Sitting for extended periods of time can contribute to increased risk of injury, weight gain and an increased risk of obesity. Over time, these conditions may progress to more serious chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and may even lead to early mortality.

On the up side, regular physical activity can help to improve overall health and wellbeing. Regular exercise can also help to reduce risk for many chronic conditions. Making slight changes to your work routine can make a big difference in reducing risk of chronic disease and may even improve your productivity!

Want to reduce your time spent sitting?

  • Get Outside – Take some time to get outdoors during your lunch break and go for a short walk
  • Increase Incidental Exercise – Take the stairs instead of the lift or walk to another co-workers desk rather than send them an email
  • Move Regularly – Set an alarm on your phone or watch to remind you to move more often
  • Stand-up Desks – Consider investing in a stand-up desk so that you can rotate your standing and siting time

exercise at work

5 exercises you can do without leaving your desk

1. Desk Push ups

Start with your feet together. Place your palms on the desk approximately shoulder width apart. Keeping your body straight, lower yourself to your desk until your chest touches the desk. Push up back to the starting position. Try 2 rounds of 10 repetitions.

2. Forearm Plank

Place forearms on the ground with elbows directly in line with shoulders. Your body should form a straight line from head to toes. Hold position for 30 seconds. Have a rest and repeat 2-3 times.

3. Reverse Lunges

Stand up straight in front of your desk, use the desk for balance if needed. Take a big step backwards with your left foot and slowly lower your hips to the floor until your front (right) knee forms a 90-degree angle. Push yourself back up to starting position using your front leg (right) and repeat the exercise. You can try 10 repetitions on the same leg or alternate until you have complete 20 repetitions in total. Complete 2 rounds of 10 repetitions on each leg.

4. Calf Raises

Stand up straight in front of your desk, use the desk for balance if needed. Raise heels off the ground until you are on your tippy toes. Hold position for a second or two and slowly lower back to the ground. Try 2 round of 15-20 repetitions.

5. Water bottle weights circuit

Grab a couple of water bottles from home and try the following:
Front Raises – begin with arms by your side, palms facing behind you. Keeping your arms straight, slowly raise your arms in front of you to shoulder height. Lower and repeat the exercise.
Side raises – begin with arms by your side, palms facing inwards to your hips. Keeping your arms straight, slowly raise your arms out to the side to shoulder height. Lower and repeat the exercise.
Overhead Press – begin with your hands at shoulder level with palms facing each other and elbows point forward. Slowly raise your arms overhead, towards the roof. Lower and repeat the exercise.
Try 10 repetitions of each exercise and repeat 2 times

If you’d like more advice about being active at work, talk to an expert. To find an exercise professional near you, click here. 

Sam Greentree - exercise physiologist

Sam Greentree is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist