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Don't Let Work Time Sabotage Your Waistline

Trash Can

One hundred years ago, sixty percent of Americans lived in rural communities. Jobs generally involved some physical labor. Gyms as we know them today were virtually non-existent. Who needed to exercise when work was so physically demanding?

In 2008, it's an entirely different world. According to the United States Census, a little over three and a half million people are employed in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations. More than one hundred million are in management, sales and service occupations. Far fewer jobs require physical labor and many people are sitting at a desk watching their waistlines explode.

It's time to start doing something about it. Here are some things you can do to make your work a fitter place to be.

Start with the way you get to work. Are you close enough to walk, jog or ride a bike? If you are, and it's a safe commute, why aren't you? Map out the course on your day off. Time yourself to see how long it will take. Then factor in how much time you need to change clothes or clean up once you get to work.

When you walk, you're burning calories. You don't have to deal with rising gas prices, traffic or worry about a place to park. If you ride a bike, make sure you've got all the appropriate protective gear, including lights and a helmet. Also, make sure you've got someplace secure to lock it up. If you don't, ask your employer to install secure bike racks. In bigger cities, some employers offer cash or extra benefits if you don't drive a car to work.

Trash Can Once you're at work, make small changes to your workspace. An easy one is to move your wastebasket. The simple act of moving your trash can away from your desk can help you burn 25 calories a day. Instead of throwing things in the bin with a simple flick of the wrist, move it across the room, so you're forced to get up, stretch, walk over and throw things out. That small act, repeated several times daily, burns calories.

Kitchen Timer Put a kitchen timer on your desk. Set it for 1 hour. Every time it goes off, get up and have a drink of water. It'll keep you hydrated since many office environments are dry, so you don't get as hungry. Plus, the cold water will help you burn more calories.

Engage your co-workers in a friendly competition. Either individually or in teams, start tracking the time you spend walking. Have contests to see which person or team walks the longest amount of time. (You generally want to track time and not miles to give both slow and fast walkers an equal chance.) To get the most benefit, make this an ongoing program that you re-energize people with every two or three months.

Beware the vending machines. If you work in a larger office building, there's a good chance vending machines full of unhealthy treats are close at hand. Don't allow yourself to be tempted. Instead, bring in a box of snacks to keep handy that won't sabotage your waistline.

Buy some fresh fruit and keep it in a basket near your desk. Store healthy shakes, low-fat frozen meals, and fat-free milk in a break room refrigerator or freezer. In the cupboards, put boxes of high fiber cereal, protein bars and salt-free dry roasted nuts or pretzels.

While you're at it, ask the people in your human resources department if they support a healthy workplace. If they do, see if they'll adopt a policy that at least 20% of the items for sale in any vending machine are lower in sugars, sodium and fats. Better yet, ask if they'll install machines that sell fruit or sandwiches that are good for you.

Use your vacation. People who take vacations are less likely to get sick. Take some time off to relax, unwind and lower your stress levels. Something as quick as a long weekend can refresh you enough so you'll go back to work with renewed enthusiasm.

If you want to get your entire office involved, cut out this article and post it on a bulletin board for your co-workers to see. Share it on social media. The more people that participate, the easier it'll be for you to get (and stay) on the fitness track.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

Updated 12/29/2020