Fit despite an office job – these 6 steps really help

What to expect in this article:

  • Scientifically researched – Why office workers urgently need to be more active
  • Muscles, bones, fascia – What sitting does to your body
  • Sluggish and lethargic – How sitting disturbs your motivation and inhibits the desire to move
  • Complete program – 6 steps for more fitness and mobility, increased strength output, realignment of the joints and to finally eliminate back pain

Millions of people work in the office – and struggle with the side effects. The human body is not made to sit for 8 hours or more a day. Instead of fresh air and varied movement, it is chained to the desk. The consequences can no longer be overlooked:

  • According to the AOK Absence Report, one-fifth of absenteeism in 2017 was due to diseases of the musculoskeletal system.
  • According to a statistical survey from 2010, Chronic back pain caused economic damage of 17.5 billion euros. In second and third place were depression (15.5 billion) and high blood pressure (11 Billion), both of which are also favored by physical inactivity.
  • An American study from 2019 with 17,013 participants found that there is a direct connection between longer sitting times and an increased mortality rate. So could both one increased general mortality (various causes) as well as an increased mortality rate from cardiovascular diseases in particular.
  • According to the WHO report, physical inactivity ranks fourth among the greatest risk factors for increased mortality. Is conspicuous In addition, that rank 1 (high blood pressure), rank 3 (high blood sugar) and rank 5 (overweight and obesity) are factors that are each directly favored by physical inactivity.

This short list represents only a small selection of the damage to health that is proven by both everyday experience and scientific research, which is caused by frequent sitting and physical inactivity.

These latest findings also suggest that excessive sitting is more harmful than smoking and alcohol .

To be clear: anyone who works in the office and lets things take their course has been proven to shorten his life and reduce his quality of life – even though you are only doing your job.

And there lies the problem. After all, it doesn’t work without a job and the jobs of the future are primarily to be found at the desk. So what should you do if you want to continue working, but also want to be healthy and fit?

Training is not enough – what sitting does to your body

Many log into the gym or go jogging. A good first step in the right direction. For example, a comprehensive meta-analysis published in 2016 (totaling over 1 million participants) came to the conclusion that 60-75 minutes of moderate physical activity per day can at least eliminate the increased risk of death from sitting for 8 hours a day.

However, that is not enough to eliminate all consequential health damage that can negatively affect the quality of life. This applies in particular to the already mentioned effects on the musculoskeletal system.

The human body adapts to the living conditions. That means, if you sit for 8 hours a day and don’t take care of the appropriate compensation,

  • your fascia adapt . Local adhesions and tangles occur, which negatively affect the suppleness of the connective tissue and thus reduce mobility and strength output, among other things.
  • Your joints adapt. This particularly affects rigid bad posture as they are often consumed at the desk over long periods of time. The result is adaptive shortening of the ligaments and joint capsules involved, which in turn leads to misalignment of the joint, which means that force can no longer be optimally transferred, individual muscles are overloaded more quickly and tension develops.
  • Your muscles adapt . Muscles harden and shorten due to one-sided strain and overload. In addition, this quickly results in a generally increased muscle tone, which both feels tense and represents a kind of energy leak – the muscles tire faster under stress (e.g. during training).
  • Your bones adapt. Because these are not directly connected to the cardiovascular system via capillaries. You need exercise in order to be supplied with nutrients. If there is a lack of movement, there is an undersupply, as a result of which the stability of the bones decreases. No wonder that around 885,000 people develop osteoporosis every year in Germany alone. [6]

The adaptation of individual components of the musculoskeletal system results in an even more consequential limitation: The desire to move is lost because the body no longer functions that way as he should!

A push-up with tense shoulders is more torture than pleasure. The development of strength is blocked by joint misalignments. Your training is severely disturbed by accumulating aches and pains, your progress slows down and your motivation is reduced.

That is why a complete package of measures is needed to eliminate unwanted adaptations to daily office work and to keep the musculoskeletal system healthy and supple.

Fit despite an office job – These 6 measures will get you on track

Small measures can work great miracles. I designed this holistic program so that the steps deal equally with all “problem areas” of daily sitting work and at the same time are easy to implement for everyone. The effect can be felt after a week.

The following steps will make your body fit despite an office job:

  1. Active everyday office life
  2. Automated posture control
  3. Height-adjustable desk
  4. Hanging every day
  5. 10,000 steps
  6. Caring for the connective tissue

If you go through the entire program, you will feel significant improvements after just one week.

§1: Active everyday office life

The longer you sit in one piece, the greater the risk of adopting poor posture and creating one-sided stress and strain. That is why it is important to interrupt sitting as often as possible, at least for a short time.

Get up on the phone and take a few steps across the room, walk to the water dispenser instead of parking a water bottle at the desk, if possible go to your colleagues and discuss things directly instead of communicating via messages.

Small measures, big impact. In this case, it is not about collecting great steps, but only briefly interrupting the sitting.

You should also include a few simple, short stretching exercises twice a day. 5 minutes of yoga while sitting * are enough to loosen up the muscles and prevent tension.

§2: Automated posture control

Paying attention to posture is crucial. In addition to the fact that you sit a lot, the wrong posture is one of the main reasons for back problems.

However, this is not new and in principle, every office worker is aware of it. The exciting question is: HOW do I manage to pay attention to my posture?

That is usually lost when you work with concentration – which is simply the case in the job. Then you quickly forget to pay attention to your own posture.

My tried and tested solution: Set yourself a timer every 30 minutes – preferably just vibrate so as not to disturb colleagues – and s stretch yourself every time the timer starts. Just stretch your arms up for 2-3 seconds.

That works! With this simple method, you automatically straighten your posture again and again and still do not interrupt your workflow. Stretching can also resolve minor blockages.

§3: Height-adjustable desk

I have had an electrically height-adjustable desk myself for years – and I wouldn’t want to give it away for anything. The work while standing relieves the neck and back, burns more calories and at the same time motivates to more exercise.

In the meantime, studies have also proven the health benefits of height-adjustable desks and also report positive effects on productivity (which I can subscribe to).

It takes getting used to at first, but the adjustment is quick.

It is interesting in this context that some (initially) have the feeling of being less productive due to the changeover, but actual productivity does not suffer from the changeover, as an American study from the Year 2017 found out.

However, it is important not to overdo it here either. Persistent standing is ultimately as unnatural as persistent sitting and can possibly (the causes are not yet fully understood) due to increased venous pressure, damage the heart and lead to varicose veins.

So variety is crucial in order to benefit from the health benefits. This is also very intuitive, because standing for hours is naturally exhausting.

Sprinkling 30-45 minutes of standing every now and then is an effective method of preventing health deterioration. Incidentally, it is important to adjust the desk so that the forearms (at a 90 ° angle between forearm and upper arm) can lie parallel.

§4: Hanging every day

The hanging challenge is the holy grail for office workers. Daily hanging is no longer negotiable for myself and my clients.

The positive effects on the health of the shoulders, intervertebral discs, the entire spine (including the lumbar spine), on the muscles and ligaments involved as well as on the grip strength cannot be disregarded when you consider the Understood the mechanics of the hanging.

Hanging reverses the effects of gravity, turning compression into decompression, and allowing gravity to straighten your body. The audible release of blockages rounds off the overall package.

In a better world, every office and every airport would be equipped with appropriate hanging options. At least in the morning, in the evening and, if possible, during the lunch break, you should let yourself be hung up and try out different hanging variants.

goal: At least 5 minutes of hanging per day (in total), divided into smaller intervals, which should, however, last at least 30 seconds.

§5: 10,000 steps

… per day. The number has meanwhile got around and has therefore also been taken up in research. Benefits in terms of physical health, body fat percentage, mental well-being and mortality could be confirmed.

The rhythmic movement of walking is also important for your spine and to relieve your intervertebral discs, which are much more stressed when you sit.

As can be seen from the federal health reports from 2012, there are over 180,000 inpatient treatments for herniated discs annually in Germany alone.

But why exactly 10,000 steps? Is there anything magical about this number? No of course not.

The number itself is based on good marketing – it is a nice round and large number and of course it also has a more motivating effect when you have reached 10,000 steps instead of 9,732 steps, although physiologically it doesn’t make much difference.

In addition, 10,000 steps are an excellent measure to be practicable for EVERYONE on the one hand and to get office workers in particular out of their own comfort zone a bit on the other hand force them to make their lifestyle athletic.

Basically, as with any change in diet, training and lifestyle: Stay relaxed.

Those who desperately try to reach such targets often put themselves under so much stress that motivation is lost and the supposed positive effects (due to the additional stress) turn into the opposite

That is why the 10,000 mark should be taken as a rough guideline because basically the goal is actually just to move more.

If you then “only” had 8,000 steps on some days, that’s no problem either. More movement is the goal. 10,000 steps (or pedometer) is just a guide.

In practice, this means, for example: Try to take a walk before or after work.

This basically works every time you drive to work. Whether by bus, train or car – you can easily get off / stop earlier and walk the rest of the way (same game on the return tour).

This method also has the advantage that this transition makes it much easier for you to switch off after work. Movement can help and support your regeneration.

§6: Caring for the connective tissue

This is especially true for enthusiastic strength athletes like me. We do a lot for our muscles, while hardly anyone has the connective tissue (fascia) on their radar.

Why actually? After all, the fasciae are the first to suffer from a sedentary lifestyle. They stick together, harden and matt, lose their elasticity.

This in turn causes you to lose mobility and strength (yes, according to the current state of science, fasciae can also contract like muscles and play an important role in jumps and bouncy movements) and can also – even in the lower back! – get pain.

In addition, the interaction between muscles and their enveloping fascia, i.e. the gliding ability of the tissue, is disturbed. As a result, your movements lose their suppleness – and are less fun.

A foam roller is therefore a must for me in my own four walls.

I use it EVERY morning and evening myself. I can urgently advise you to take care of your fasciae and thus maintain or restore the health, performance and flexibility of your entire musculoskeletal system.

Athletic Way of Life

Ultimately, it is above all a question of having the right fitness mindset. Instead of just thinking about six-packs and building muscle, it is important to understand fitness as an enriching, active lifestyle that also promotes and maintains your health and significantly increases your energy level.

Training is an important supplement, but ultimately it is important to cultivate the natural urge to move and let it develop.

Then you move more casually and intuitively and live healthier. As a result, the measures presented here become an uncomplicated and sustainable solution in order to be fit and healthy despite an office job and to have an athletic figure.


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