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I could ask you to go live in a small cave and eat organic berries and do yoga 3 times a day to achieve optimal health and wellness, but how realistic would that be?

(well, unless you had cable tv and a good wireless internet connection – then we’re talking, right?)

We all know there are certain things we should do, but what steps can we take to get the greatest return in investment for a possible change in lifestyle?

Since most of us spend a good chunk of our day sitting at our desk in the office, here is a quick breakdown of the six best things you can do right now to help decrease the impact of the cubicle prison:

#1 Stand By Me:

When sitting down we limit our breathing capacity, shorten our chest muscles and place stress on our neck and upper back, not to mention the tightened hip muscles at the front.

We all sit down too much compared to our chairless ancestors – when not at the desk do your best to stand, stretch, expand your lungs and loosen the tightness in the chest, hip and abdominal muscles. This will help undo the 8 hours of sitting you are likely to do.

#2 Frankie Says ‘Relax’:

Take a short break or two every day to seize a quiet moment. Get outside if just for a moment.

Notice your breathing, your environment, colors and smells around you. Take the opportunity to clear your mind, sharpen your senses and reset your mental machinery before heading back into the fray.

#3 Here Comes the Sun:

Photosynthesize – try to expose yourself to the sun for between 10-15 minutes a day to switch on multiple hormone regulating systems and produce vitamin D for healthy bones and skin.

It’s just plain good for you – If your dermatologist gets on your case ask what the cavemen did to protect their skin 10,000 years ago… cover up with bearskin umbrellas?

#4 Get Up, Stand Up. Stand Up for your Rights:

Invest in yourself! Outside of the office (or perhaps during your lunch break) Don’t underestimate the benefit of a knowledgeable personal trainer, massage therapist or acupuncture session to recharge the body, mind and spirit.

Treats such as these can pay dividends in more productive work hours with less pain and more energy and satisfaction in your life and work!

A workout that leaves your body more stressed is not necessarily the solution. A balance of working hard in the gym and relaxing hard in the stretching area or hot tub is a great way to achieve best results.

If you are overstressed and you work out too hard your body may actually store even more fat in an ‘overtraining’ response to the increased total stress.

Make sure you are making yourself the priority – whether your work realizes it or not, the better your stress level the better you produce.

#5 Twist and Shout:

Don’t tell your personal trainer this, but working out is an inexact science – the most important thing to you, mister/ms dedicated desk jockey, is to get you out of the sitting position and standing upright like your fellow homo sapiens.

Try to loosen and strengthen muscles in multiple directions in conjunction with other body parts. That means front to back, side to side and in rotation (like this woodchop below)


A simple exercise that uses your rotational muscles (great for the abs as well!)

Try to do movements that encourage your body to get out of a seated position and into a position of lengthening while strengthening. Ask the hottest trainer in the gym for a minute of help if you need advice (hey, you gotta get your value for money out of that membership, right?)

#6 Climb Every Mountain:

No seriously - we can all learn something from Julie AndrewsAim for small manageable continuous improvement. Ever meet the guy who lost 60 pounds in three weeks, only to yo-yo it back on and then some? The body will respond best to gradual changes to its dimensions.

Push it too hard and it may push back in the form of joint pain, bad technique or injury. So take your time making the changes in your schedule – but dont take lightly the massive potential these small changes can have over time.

The most important thing to remember is that our bodies are not designed to sit at desks for 8 hours. We must take every opportunity to stand and move – Did I mention hydration? Take your first step to change right now and go get a drink from that office water cooler.

If you see someone else at the water cooler, ask if they were reading this post and were just following directions… If they say “yes” then give them a high five from me 🙂 Then talk about Julie Andrews and ask if they think that last picture of the Nun costume makes her look fatter or more alluring.

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  • […] I could ask you to go live in a small cave and eat organic berries and do yoga 3 times a day to achieve optimal health and wellness, but how realistic would that be? (well, unless you had cable tv and a good wireless internet connection … Continue here: Six ways to stop your office job from killing you […]

  • me May 27, 2009 Reply

    you are amazing. you always make me smile

  • JoanVoight Jun 12, 2009 Reply

    Jamie…great attitude as well as smart advice.
    Here’s my real-life approach.
    Along with my work reading and writing. Mostly what I do is sweep. Actually sweep, mop and vacuum. Blame it on Voodoo-the-dog, a black dalmatian-mix, Waldo-the-cat, who is huge and fuzzy; and a family fixation for renovating furniture, gadgets, barbecues, decks and whatever.
    But over time I’ve found the sweeping motion has become a therapy for a back and shoulders aching from the computer crouch. Plus, the Cajun jazz I play during the task seems to refresh my buzzing mind. How ironic, that I used to pay a housekeeper to come every week to do the exercise that is helping me keep flexible.

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