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Ask Slashdot: How To Stay Fit In the Office? 372

Posted by Soulskill
from the five-pushups-for-every-non-work-related-pageload dept.
Kochnekov writes "This week I started my first co-op job as a chemical engineering student. I work in an R&D lab, but in between daily tasks there is a lot of downtime, which I spend at my desk, staring at my computer. I know Slashdot is used mostly by IT professionals and desk jockeys, so chances are you've all encountered the draining effects of sedentary office life: joint and back pain, weight gain, heart health risks, etc. What are some ways to counteract the negative health effects of a desk job, both during and after work?"
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Ask Slashdot: How To Stay Fit In the Office?

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  • Stand At Your Desk (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Press2ToContinue (2424598) * on Saturday January 12, 2013 @02:44PM (#42568781)

    I have an expandable lapdesk placed on top of my desk, elevating the laptop about a foot, and I sit on a mid-height stool so that I sit-stand all day. It makes a big difference in my legs and back.

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Saturday January 12, 2013 @03:14PM (#42569035)

      I second this. A stand up desk is great for your legs, back and heart. Sitting can kill you [yahoo.com]. I use a 27" monitor with this arm [amazon.com], suspended from an overhead shelf. I can pivot it between a standing and sitting position. But as my legs and back have strengthened, I spend less and less time sitting. Now I usually only sit for meals and meetings.

      Another advantage to standing, is that when people come into my office, they want to talk to me at eye-to-eye level. So they don't sit down either. This results in short-and-to-the-point conversations.

      • by DaveSlash (1597297) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @05:01PM (#42569767)
        Bike to work, take stretching brakes.
        • by 50000BTU_barbecue (588132) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @06:05PM (#42570179) Homepage Journal

          Bike to work, take stretching brakes.

          Stretching brakes sound very dangerous. What if you need to stop suddenly? I'd rather have normal brakes on my bike.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by pioneerX (830117)
            Some V-brakes come with power modulators to stop inexperienced rides from locking the wheels. It's like having stretchy brake cables.
        • by datavirtue (1104259) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @09:37PM (#42571487)

          The 30-30 rule: After 30 minutes of sitting you must get up for at least 30 seconds and stretch. Look up ergonomics for the office and practice good eating habits. I recently sat with an ergonomics expert and nutritionist. I was feeling dead at the end of the day--taking naps when I got home--and generally run down and old. At 34 I knew this wasn't right so I brought it up to him. He said I was running out of gas because I wasn't eating enough! I was essentially starving myself by only eating twice a day which was preventing me from losing weight (I work out at the gym 2-3 times a week) and it was making me feel dead. As soon as I started eating small protein rich meals every two hours with a cutoff of 7pm per his recommendations I came to life instantly. He said It would make me feel like crap the first week or two but it didn't. I started dropping weight immediately, visiting the restroom more often and I felt like and still feel like a warrior. Complete change. He told me that everyone who works in an office sits wrong, far too long, and they eat horrible diets. Stay away from fast food and heavy meals all together. Don't forget to hit the gym or strap on the running shoes a few times a week!

          • As soon as I started eating small protein rich meals every two hours with a cutoff of 7pm per his recommendations I came to life instantly.

            Can you give me an example of what a day's worth of meals would be like for you?

          • About the good eating habits - they will also help you get up more often to breathe, especially if your diet is heavy on beans ... it will certainly give you an incentive to get outside often, and your colleagues will help reminding you too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        A stand up desk is great for your legs, back and heart. Sitting can kill you. [yahoo.com]

        From the article: "Analyzing self-reported data from more than 222,000 people aged 45 and older, Australian researchers found that mortality risks spike after 11 hours of total daily sitting but are still 15 percent higher for those sitting between 8 and 11 hours compared to those sitting fewer than 4 hours per day."

        My wild guess? Old people who slowly deteriorate because of old age quickly deteriorate once they reach the point

        • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @08:48PM (#42571229) Homepage Journal

          People do deteriorate when confined to a wheelchair. People who are aware of that fact can do something about it.

          Jim was a UDT/Frogman. (Note, he wasn't a SEAL, they didn't have SEALS when he served.) Long after his discharge, Jim discovered that he was diabetic. Long story short, he lost both legs to diabetes. When his legs were cut off, he woke up in a recovery room with another guy who had the same problem, same amputation.

          Jim resisted efforts to sell him an electrically powered wheelchair. His room mate bought a high dollar powered wheel chair.

          The old sailor lived for decades, powering his own wheelchair with his own arms. His room mate only made it about 7 years. Each year, that room mate gained more weight, grew weaker, got lazier and lazier, and finally died.

          You're right, studies are needed, but you're most certainly on the right track with your guesses.

        • by dr2chase (653338)

          Better get in touch with those researchers, I'm sure they never considered this possibility.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      After switching to a stand-up desk, I won't go back. You want the stool though or it might get to be too much. A rubber pad on the floor for your feet can keep you standing comfortably longer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Sigg3.net (886486)

      Variation is key. Sometimes, stand on your desk.

  • Weed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cultiv8 (1660093) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @02:47PM (#42568795) Homepage
    and a bottle of water. Problem solved!
  • Excercise and diet (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrLang21 (900992) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @02:47PM (#42568799)
    Seriously. Regardless of what your working situation is, it's as simple exercise and diet. Take your lunch to work and be active on weekends. This makes a huge difference. If you're lucky enough to have a gym at work, use it.
    • by rwa2 (4391) * on Saturday January 12, 2013 @03:03PM (#42568941) Homepage Journal

      I've been doing Tae Kwon Do most of my life, and it works pretty well for nerds. I found a school with lots of scientists and engineers, and the emphasis was more on personal growth than competitive sparring.

      There's a lot of geometry and physics to think about while you're practicing your drills, and you spend a lot of time thinking about optimizing the various systems in your body. And you get to collect a lot of tools and hacks, various things you can do with your body and other people. Also, I learned a bit of Korean, and get conditioned with some of the exotic cultural protocol as well.

      So it might be a good option to check into if you find gyms boring and team sports out of your league.

      • Wrestling's good for all of the above, too, and you can't beat it for core strength training. However, it's hard to find a club. Maybe a local college or a high school.
    • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @03:54PM (#42569349) Homepage Journal
      Why do you even need a gym? Or wait for the weekends? Instead of standing around the water cooler, do as many pushups as you can when you have 30 seconds. Do the same before every urination break (you'll work really hard really fast). You will spend literally minutes a day, yet be in better shape than the 99%.
  • Nearest Gym (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rogueippacket (1977626) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @02:49PM (#42568821)
    Ask your colleagues, I bet a good number of them go there during lunch or at some other predetermined hour, several times per week. And don't feel even a little bit bad about leaving your desk - it's a great way to network within the company and develop camaraderie, which can ultimately lead to full-time employment and higher moral.
    Alternatively, if you are working some place fairly isolated, you can bike to/from work one or many days per week, weather permitting.
    • I picked a gym near the train station, so during the years I was commuting by train it was convenient to go there when I got back from work, before doing other things for the evening. I've been going a lot less frequently since I changed offices.

    • Re:Nearest Gym (Score:4, Insightful)

      by realityimpaired (1668397) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @04:29PM (#42569555)

      The problem with a gym membership is it takes a lot of willpower. Most people will see it as a chore or a task... I *have* to go to the gym and *exercise*. Ugh.

      Walking/biking to work is what I'd suggest. Move to a place that's a few miles from work and start walking. Or if that's not feasible, move to a place that's 5-10 miles and ride your bike. Or if that's not feasible, get off the bus a few stops earlier, and walk the extra mile to go to work. It makes a huge difference, even though you're only getting an extra 20 minutes of exercise out of it.

  • Simple exercises (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @02:49PM (#42568823)

    Push-ups, sit-ups, plank, and jogging. There are also lots of stretching exercises that you can do during the day.

    • ^ what he said. Plus, I'd suggest finding a group to workout with because this will keep you motivated if you know someone's expecting you.

      For quick workouts at work, I've written a script that will pick a bodyweight-only workout and a random number of reps. My deal is that if I want to browse /., I have to do one of these exercises first. You can select a number of workouts that work best for your situation from here [bodybuilding.com].

    • We had this guy in our office who would go jogging every day at lunch. When he would come back he would take of his sweat pants , t-shirt and socks and put on his business clothes back on. Then he put his sweaty stinky clothes in the microwave oven in the break room to dry out.. Oh The Smell...
      • by firex726 (1188453)

        Yea, BO/sweat is an issue.

        My office has an exercise room, but no showers so no one uses it otherwise they will be sweaty all day.
        (I think one person uses it at the end of their shift on the way home)

    • Tai Chi and QiGong have a lot of great stretching and stability exercises you can do in not much space, and they're slow moving enough that you're not going to work up a sweat.

      Also, getting up from your desk periodically and doing things, like going and getting coffee.

    • Masturbate (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @04:42PM (#42569631)

      Masturbate at work, often. It's good cardio, keeps your arms limber (switch up from time to time), and keeps your hand-shaking grip good and firm for those office meetings.

      It's also very good for your morale and overall calmness, which will spread to your co-workers around you and create a feedback loop of contentedness. You will seem to everyone to have it together, you'll get raises and promotions. You'll be great at racket-ball with the execs due to exercising your grip and pump. Eventually you will be made President of the company.

      That's right: Chronic Masturbation will make you the President. That's how I became the President of the Hair Club for Men.
       

  • Doughnuts (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @02:50PM (#42568827)

    Doughnuts, plenty of doughnuts. They contain all the nutrients you need and help keeping you in shape.

  • Those yoga ball things used as office chairs seem to be effective. After a while, you don't feel like you're making any effort at staying stable.

    I've seen recumbent bicycles used with custom desk solutions as well. Need plenty of cooling for that, though, and fans tend to be noisy.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Get strong. There are really good 3x a week strength training programs targeted at beginners. Starting Strength and Stronglifts 5x5 are two of the most widely used and effective examples.

    Join a team sport to keep you motivated about strength gains.

    Switch to a standing desk. At the least, this will prevent slouching and keep your hip flexors more loose than they are right now.

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @02:55PM (#42568865)

    ... walking believe it or not. Walking steadily for multiple half hour to one hour stints over the entire day adds up. I lost 40lbs walking 4 hours a day/7 days a week for 4 months. It's all about commitment, don't make excuses when it comes to your health. Without your health nothing else matters. Take it from someone fairly aged, as you get older you're not as energetic as when you're younger so get it done ASAP. People tend to under-estimate how important it is to prioritize health over everything else. IMHO health should come even _before_ your job because without it you're just digging yourself a whole that is harder to climb out of as you get older.

    But before you even begin to exercise DO find out how much you are eating or exercise is pointless. A great site is fitday, for the first week or so monitor religiously and input data on everything you eat including days you over-eat.

    http://www.fitday.com/ [fitday.com]

    In my opinion if you eat a lot of unhealthy foods you should start to remove some of the worst from your life and replace it with something healthy. You don't have to go all health nut but eating better goes a long way when coupled with exercise. Take it from someone who has been there, done that.

    • I find exercise for the sake of exercise alone boring. Much more fun to add a bit of subversive activity. What do I mean?

      Take along some chalk, and mark up the sidewalk. Put a brief History of the Earth, something like "4.5 billion years ago: Earth forms, 542 million years ago: Cambrian explosion, 65 million years ago: meteor causes extinction of dinosaurs", on the sidewalk near a church, particularly one known to push Creationism. Put down some facts about Global Warming near a gas station.

  • Sitting is bad for you.
    Get up frequently and walk somewhere.
    Better yet... get a desk where you can stand and work.

  • by sillivalley (411349) <{ten.tsacmoc} {ta} {yellavillis}> on Saturday January 12, 2013 @02:56PM (#42568869)
    If you have a printer in your cube, get rid of it -- use one that makes you get up and walk.

    Use stairs rather than elevators -- use a loo on a different floor to get more use of stairs,

    If you drive to work, don't park next to the building, park where you get to walk some.

    Rather than eating lunch one or more days during the week, take a walk locally instead.
  • by singingjim1 (1070652) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @02:57PM (#42568871)
    But that shit is boring. Don't stay up late watching Colbert Report and get up early and ride a bike. And ride it like someone is chasing you that wants to kill you. I've lost 75 lbs and have turned myself into an elite amateur athlete (won a few races here and there on the road bike and mountain bike) by getting up early and riding. It works big time (I'm proof) and it's WAY more fun than calisthenics or going to a gym to work out. I work in front of a computer all day long. Cycling is literally saving my life.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @02:57PM (#42568881) Homepage
    Browse Slashdot while you're supposed to be working, use your lunch time to go for a walk.
  • Just get up and walk around and think every 15 or 20 or 30 minutes. You're paid to think, after all.

    People might think you're strange, but thinking walking around works for me. Good for your circulation, head, gives your wrists a break, etc.

    I'm looking at 40 coming up and I'm still in good shape. I credit that technique and never learning to "properly" type.

  • ask for more work? so you can learn something? and show what a good worker you are? so you can get a real job later on?

  • It is proven that the best drug, which side effects is also to boost your immune system is "adrenaline". Do you need more details how to obtain it :D
  • by candeoastrum (1262256) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @03:12PM (#42569013)
    Intermittent Fasting has been my savior. Between the commute and spending time with the family I don't have much time for working out so IF (eating every other day) has been a godsend for me. It may not work for you but to each his own.
  • Replace your desk with this [youtube.com]
  • by knarf (34928) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @03:13PM (#42569023) Homepage

    Cycle to work. Anything up to ~20 km should be doable. If you can not cycle, try the combination of public transport and inline skates, I did that for years whenI lived 160 km from my job. Skate to station, take train(s) to work, skate from station to office (and through it to my desk :-). In general I tend to combine these things, no sports school or fitness needed that way...

    • by rHBa (976986)
      Sorry, no mod points left but +1 Insightful.

      Even just getting public transport will keep a few pounds off, it might not turn you into an uber-athlete but the extra mile of walking and standing around waiting for the train/bus still helps (compared to driving to work).
    • This is the right answer!

      I've always cycled to work, sometimes as far as 25km each way. It's a great way to stay in shape, it's fun (even when the weather's bad), and you get to see and hear lots of interesting things you'd miss sitting in a car or on a bus. Also, it can often be faster than driving or taking public transport, especially if the roads where you are tend to get congested at rush hour.

  • I was in the same boat. I've never really worked out and work from home, so I was either in a chair or on the couch. Then I turned to bodyweight training, which doesn't require going to the gym or weights, so it can be done anywhere.

    Currently I'm following Convict Conditioning [amazon.com], which only takes minutes a day, and excersizes like squats, pushups, bridges, and the early leg raise series can be done right at your desk. So now I still don't work out much, but I'm more muscular and stronger than I've ever been i

  • Local Tier 2 support here.

    1) I do a lot of walking and eschew the elevators unless I'm carrying equipment.

    2) My company offers free memberships to local gyms, and the local YMCA is 2 blocks away, and I stop there on my way to work, 3-5 times a week. A 30 min workout + sauna / hot tub works well.

  • Martial arts training (primarily tai chi with a bit of kung fu), running (a couple of miles, three to four times a week), meditation (nightly), stretching (following meditation, before and after running, before and after kung fu), qigong... and eating well.

    I am in the best shape of my life at 35, despite working 60 hour weeks. The sedentary IT life is just an excuse that people use. Staying healthy is a life style choice. It is a serious pain in the ass at first, but once you get into a routine that work

  • Go dancing, really... As a bonus, you'll socialize and get to hang out with cute chicks, for potentially more interesting physical activity.

    And walk there, if possible.

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      Go dancing, really... As a bonus, you'll socialize and get to hang out with cute chicks, for potentially more interesting physical activity.

      And walk there, if possible.

      Having mainly done salsa and tango (Argentine, not American), i'd say that compared to Tango you'll probably meet the younger women doing Salsa and that you can find salsa almost anywhere. But nothing beats the Tango's close embrace for really getting to know someone. To quote someone I knew after we came out of a weekend tango workshop:

      I've danced with well over 50 women this weekend, and I know the different smells of their perfume and how differently their breasts feel pressed against my chest - but I have no idea what their names were!

  • by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @03:32PM (#42569159)

    http://www.amazon.com/Art-Science-Low-Carbohydrate-Living/dp/0983490708/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358019060&sr=1-1&keywords=art+of+low+carbohydrate+living [amazon.com]

    http://www.amazon.com/Slow-Burn-Fitness-Revolution-Exercise/dp/0767913868 [amazon.com]

    I pretty much do nothing but sit all day, but I continue to get fitter, and healthier, with essentially a diet based on nutritional ketosis, and 30 minutes of slow strength training a week.

    Learn how the human body works, and you can optimize.

  • by drkstr1 (2072368) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @03:36PM (#42569199)
    Martial Arts has been the greatest thing I've done for myself (other than learning to program of course). Being a typical nerd, I have never been interested in sports or exercise. It's not that I am lazy, I just get board really easy unless my mind is engaged. What I like about martial arts is that it is challenging in a way that is engaging for me, as it requires focus, concentration, and knowledge. I end up approaching martial arts in the same way I approach any technical challenge, I grind away at the problem until I can do whatever it is I am trying to do (EG. practice). Not only is it fun, it also has the added bennifits of being extremely beneficial to your body (especially the joints). While I am at work, I will get up every hour or two (about the frequency of someone's smoke break) and go find a nice quite place outside to practice for about 10 minutes. After work I go to the dojo for about an hour. Despite being at the age where my "best years" are behind me, I have never felt better or been more productive as I am now. I strongly recommend it.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @03:39PM (#42569227) Journal

    It's tons of fun and it's healthy. Best of all, the time you spend on your bike going to and from work, is your own time, you don't feel like it's yet more of your life sacrificed on the altar of your employer.

  • by locopuyo (1433631) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @03:43PM (#42569243) Homepage
    Drink a lot of water so you have to get up and go to the bathroom and refill your water container. This keeps you from sitting for too long and lowering your metabolism.
  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @03:52PM (#42569339)

    Ask at your workplace for people who play grassroots ball sports. Pretty much any decent team sport will do. Football, basketball and so on.

    This gives you several advantages:

    1. Better social links at workplace - a lot of stuff about your workplace that you'll never hear about at work you'll hear during and after practice and games. You'll also form friendships including those with bosses if they're into the same sport.
    2. It creates a great group activity and it keeps you doing it due to peer pressure, even when going gets tough. Quitting solo activity is easy. Quitting group activity is much harder. Your body will thank you when you're close to retirement age.
    3. You can usually choose how hard you want to practice. No one will demand a lot from a newbie, especially in a grassroots team. But you can push yourself and get better if you want too, becoming one of the people "carrying" the team. Or you can be one of the back benchers just showing up for fun time and staying in shape.

  • I have some rules that I try and follow to make sure I am getting some exercise while working: I have a small timer/stopwatch clock in my office and I set it for 50 minutes. Every time it reaches 50 minutes, I get up and go get a glass of water from the opposite end of the office. Any time I have to use the bathroom, I try to use the one farthest away. I try to park my car a little far away from the office unless the weather is bad or something. If I can avoid using the phone, I make it a point to go to peo
  • Get up early three times a week and gym, bike, or run. It's difficult to be consistent going to the gym after work, since you may be drained or want to spend time with friends or family. Working out early also energizes you for the day, one you are a bit in shape (just a few weeks to adjust). Also, your workout doesn't need to be more than 30-45 minutes, but you should work out with some intensity, once you have worried up to being able to do so.
  • by bjdevil66 (583941) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @04:13PM (#42569483)

    Bottom line for many of us: 1) Cut back on the sugar and 2) take breaks from sitting. It really is that simple.

    I'm a developer chained to a computer screen most of the day. Until early last year I was 220-225 lbs. (at 5'11"-6') - your stereotypical, middle-aged, pot-bellied developer dad.

    Then one day last spring, I stopped eating the leftover junk on the snack table at work. Then I started eating eggs for breakfast sometimes, instead of a large bowl of "healthy" cereal. Jerky replaced a crappy hamburger when I didn't pack a lunch. Then I cut way back on the 9PM donut and diet soda runs to Circle K and the 11PM chips and salsa fests. If I had a sweet snack like ice cream, it'd be a scoop or two - not a full bowl of it.

    That's all I changed. No crazy, expensive exercise DVD sets, gym memberships, or "chicken and leaves" diet torture. I just took a little more responsibility for what and how much junk I was eating.

    I was genuinely surprised to see that over the next 3-4 months I dropped to 200-205 lbs, and I've stayed there, ever since. It's a sustainable change that has helped my belly size (I look better and feel a lot better) AND my wallet.

    I also get up and walk around a few times a day. Instead of cigarette breaks, it's walking breaks. I can still think about what I'm working on, and my back and legs feel much better afterwards.

  • do:
          Exercise 1/2 hour every day.
          Pack your lunch
          Eat foods that are nutritious with large volume

    dont:
          Eat any fast food
          Eat out of open containers
          Consume enough alcohol to make you tipsy

  • Run or bike to work (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jon Abbott (723) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @04:18PM (#42569507) Homepage

    Live close enough to work that you can run or bike to and from work. If it snows or gets icy where you live, get Microspikes [rei.com] for your shoes so you can keep running in the winter. Problem solved!

  • First started off with Tai Chi, made me fly up the stairs in a couple of weeks even when it was just the start of the 24 routine.
    Then bought a set of kettlebells after reading about using those for strength training.
    Last, got my hand on Convict Conditioning about body weigth training.

    All this makes sure exercise doesn't get boring.
  • Twice a week, ride the bike to work the other days.

  • Better than just standing [treadmill-desk.com], you walk at a very slow 1.5mph pace. It takes a little getting used to, but once you're able to walk and work, it is great!
    • I bought a Nordictrack of some sort off Craigslist a few months ago; set up a monitor on a table to be eye level in front of me. As it happens this model of treadmill has a shelf that a keyboard sits on perfectly, although now it blocks the treadmill's fan. I also bought a USB numberpad with a spacebar key on its bottom left - I can tap this for Page Down, so I can read text while jogging along; I keep my hands on the handlebars that read your pulse. I set macros for the 1 key to be Page Up, 2 is now Nex

  • I work 90 minute intervals followed by 10 minute breaks. Every break, I find an empty room and I do bending and stretching exercises, and do a couple of push-ups and squats and such. Not only do I keep reasonably fit from these activities alone, but I also find that it refills my energy far better than drinking coffee or coke.

  • Plan is to run 1,000 miles this year. I do weights a few times a week and extended stretching a few times a week. Also 1.5 to 2.5 hours of tennis one to two times a week. It helps to have a fitness center at the office. I also use a fairly low-carb diet. The LiveStrong website has a good calorie tracker - diet is more important than exercise in losing fat. Avoid sugar. Watch the YouTube videos from Lustig on this. Join a support group. The hierarchy of fat loss: Intervals Strength-Training High-intensi
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @04:38PM (#42569601)

    Seriously. Join the SCA. [sca.org]

    About half of us are IT nerds of one stripe or another. We are a society of aging nerds that have to keep in shape to keep doing what we do - swordfighting is very physically taxing. So we have a fairly large support community that works hard to solve this very problem. A good place to start is the Armour Archive. [armourarchive.org] Search the forums for fitness tips, you'll find plenty.

    And if you have motivation problems (we all do somewhat), this SCA is great for fixing that. Nothing in the world will motivate you to get up off the couch and do some situps like knowing Duke So-and-so next weekend is going to pound the ever living crap out of you if you aren't prepared.

  • I was surprised to learn that in Japan many workplaces actually organize morning exercise for their employees (video [youtube.com]). Even if it is done on the company time, I am pretty sure that if you calculate the benefits to the workplace community, increased productivity (exercise boosts productivity) and healthier employees (even mild exercise has massive health benefits), it actually pays itself off to the employer. I bet it would also be a great motivation for many westerners to get up early to the office for the

  • A lot of responses so far mention standup desks, doing pushups etc, and even treadmill desks. While these are all great things to do, they may be impractical or just not available, especially in a lab situation. I can't imagine the number of employers willing to spring for a treadmill desk is very large, after all how many of us have been stuck with 4/3 19" monitors for years after widescreen 24" monitors dropped below $200? If that's your situation (like it is for me) then you can always stay fit AFTER wor
  • I'm using Mark Lauren's, "You Are Your Own Gym." No excuses any more, it's about 1/2 hour per day, 4-5 days per week. It's mostly based on using yourself, with what you have around you, so also works when doing the road warrior thing in hotel rooms.


  • Get up from your desk a few times during the day, perhaps once in the morning, once at - or just after - lunchtime, once in the afternoon, and walk briskly for 10 minutes - OUTSIDE.

    Walking lowers blood pressure, reduces stress levels, give you a chance to breathe non-recycled, fresh, or at least fresher, air (depending on where you work), and burns calories.

    Diet is important. But even if your dietary choices are poor, a simple brisk walk of short duration a few times a day will measurably lengthen yo
  • I bike back and forth to work when it isn't raining. But I feel that the only way to not get fat at a desk job is basically to skip every meal that your stomach can stomach. It's annoying.
  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @05:01PM (#42569757)

    I work in an R&D lab, but in between daily tasks there is a lot of downtime, which I spend at my desk, staring at my computer.

    I say this as a manager in an R&D lab:

    I want to hire self motivated people. And co-ops are a great way to end up with a full time position. But I will avoid like the plague people who sit staring at their computer because they weren't told what to do. If you weren't told what to do, ask what to do. If you get no guidance, suggest a side project of your own to work when you don't have other tasks. Failing that, if you're a scientist, find some journal articles and get smarter.

    I wholeheartedly support the effort to get in shape, but I wouldn't start treating on-the-job downtime as an opportunity to engage in extracurricular activity. It might suggest you're not serious about your co-op. I realize you're probably young and think you're doing enough if you're doing what you told, but the people who get ahead are those who motivate themselves.

    Best of luck in your co-op.

  • by l00sr (266426)

    If you decide to start weight training, get this book [amazon.com], learn how to squat correctly, and do it.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @05:41PM (#42570023) Journal

    I live excuse me, work, in the top floor of my building. I try to take the stairs whenever I need to go up any floors. (Up only. Not down, because it hurts my knees.) I also have a hand exerciser on my desk that I use if my hands aren't occupied (on the phone, etc). It serves double duty as an exercise tool and stress reducer. When the weather is good I take walks at lunch, and when it's bad there's always walks around the building.

    I had back trouble a few years ago. I set my watch to beep once an hour, which was my signal to get up and stretch and walk around a bit. It really helped.

    And, I have a dog, so I'm obligated to go for walks when I get home, which is also a stress reducer.

  • Step 1, measure (Score:4, Informative)

    by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Saturday January 12, 2013 @05:58PM (#42570105) Homepage Journal

    Since you're worried about losing fitness, gaining weight, etc., -- which is great, most people don't start to think about it until after it becomes a problem -- and since you're an engineer, I suggest the first thing you should do is to begin measuring and tracking relevant stats. Anything worth doing is worth quantifying and plotting on graphs, of course :-)

    Read (or skim) The Hacker's Diet [fourmilab.ch]. Whether or not you agree with its particular approach to weight management, it does a good job of instilling the idea that your body is just another piece of equipment that you can engineer. You can't redesign it, but you can set up negative feedback control loops that keep it in the configuration that you want it to be, and the first step is to measure and track so you have hard numbers that represent your state and trend.

    This doesn't have to be difficult. In fact there are a lot of free on-line resources to make it very easy. Google will find you plenty more, but I'll give you the ones I use.

    For overall weight and activity tracking I use http://fitbit.com/ [fitbit.com] It works best if you buy the $100 Fitbit pedometer/activity tracker and the $130 Aria Wifi-enabled scale (see how the website can be free, without ads?) but you can do it just by entering your numbers daily. Just weigh yourself every morning and take 15 seconds to record it (or if you have the Aria, just weigh yourself and the numbers show up on the web site). You can also track your exercise activities, your measurements (e.g. chest, belly, biceps, etc.) and whatever else you want, and the web site will give you nice graphs. If you get the Fitbit, or another pedometer whose measurements you'll have to enter manually, you'll have that measure of your activity level as well.

    If you run, or cycle, etc., http://endomondo.com/ [endomondo.com] is a great tool for tracking those. Endomondo provides iOS and Android apps for your phone, and you can connect your Endomondo and Fitbit accounts, so when you go out for a run or a ride and track it with your phone, the activity automatically shows up on your Fitbit log. If you like you can also get a bluetooth heart rate monitor which the Endomondo app will use to log your heart rate.

    Another key metric is food intake, but that's a lot more work. Fitbit provides food logging, but it sucks because it has a lousy food database. However http://myfitnesspal/ [myfitnesspal] provides an excellent database which makes it easy to find whatever you eat, and the phone app includes a barcode scanner which makes it even easier for packaged foods. Oh and myfitnesspal integrates with Fitbit, too. Honestly, though, unless you're working towards a specific weight gain/loss goal, and you are pretty dedicated about it, logging your food is too much work.

    Anyway, armed with measurements, plotted on charts, with trendlines you can see where you're at and where you're going, which enables you to see if there's something you need to be concerned about and to take charge if there is. If you want to make a change, just decide what you think would help and start doing it, then monitor your trends over a few weeks to see if it does. If not, or if not enough, tweak a bit more. Continue adjusting whatever knobs seem appropriate and observing the results until you are where you want to be -- or if maintaining is your goal, just keep doing what you're doing unless the trend lines show movement that you don't want.

    The key to making the "measured lifestyle" work is making the measurements easy, automatic and habitual.

    Oh, one other tool I've found helpful for goal achievement is http://beeminder.com./ [beeminder.com.] It integrates with fitbit.com (and some other sites) and also provides SMS and/or e-mail reminders, as well as pretty graphs. Most importantly, though, Beeminder provides incentive. You can make a "pledge" to achieve a parti

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