Saturday, November 24, 2012

Do You Train for Work?

I remember mentioning this concept to a colleague once. We were talking about our tiring 10-hour-a-day desk jobs. So I said that I “trained for work.” He gave me a sideways smirk, as if to say, “Yeah right. Like there’s a workout routine designed for someone who sits like a rock in a chair all day.”

But I was actually serious.

It’s not that you have to train to be able to do nothing but wiggle your fingers over a keyboard. It’s that you have to train to counteract the deleterious effects of doing nothing, for such long periods, but wiggling your fingers over a keyboard.

Sitting can be poisonous for our bodies, which were designed for movement. Doug Kelsey at Sports Center in Austin once wrote that an old teacher said something to the effect that sitting does for your spine what putting a plastic bag over your head does for your breathing.

So I actually do train for work. Every workday morning I do this “bird dog” exercise for three and a half minutes, to keep my back muscles strong. I also do this “rock ‘n roll” exercise (another great recommendation by Kelsey) for five minutes, for my neck, which is a little crackly and has given me minor problems in the past.

What about my knees?

Actually, what I do for my knees probably benefits my neck and back too. First, on the way to work, I walk a good three-quarters of a mile to my subway stop (bypassing two closer stops, just so I can get in some beneficial movement). During daily snack breaks (Bloomberg has lots of free food on the premises), I eat while slowly strolling the floor. And at lunch, after a quick, light meal, I head for the exits and walk the streets for a good 10 or 15 minutes.

So, in sum: I move as much as possible during work breaks, to try to negate the effect of all the toxic sitting. And early in the morning, I do various exercises to help prepare me to withstand all that sitting without discomfort.

Our bodies need movement. Our 21st-century jobs often don’t accommodate that need so well. So a little special effort is required to keep all our body parts running smoothly.

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