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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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  • 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.
  • 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.

  • by Pezbian (1641885) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @02:51PM (#42568835)

    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 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 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%.
  • Re:Weed (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @03:59PM (#42569397)
    Yes, that will keep one in great shape. Fat with lung cancer, heart disease and piss poor memory.
  • by IdolizingStewie (878683) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @04:28PM (#42569543)
    For the record, back when I took it, my TaeKwonDo instructor made it very clear that it was going to be worth very little in a real fight. I'd almost argue it has a negative effect, because you condition yourself to aim for the most ineffective spots. The Jujitsu (weeping style and Brazilian style) he taught us when he got bored might be a little more helpful, but was still conditioned at getting yourself free long enough to run.
  • Step 1, measure (Score:4, Informative)

    by swillden (191260) <> 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 []. 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 [] 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., [] 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 [] It integrates with (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

  • by Jeremi (14640) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @07:00PM (#42570561) Homepage

    Because then you look like a weirdo in your office. Geeks a lot of times have issues feeling awkward. This won't help.

    The flip side of that coin is that if you're a geek, people already think you're weird, so you don't have much to lose there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @09:14PM (#42571377)

    This. There's no special magic to it - how you keep yourself healthy doesn't change because you sit at a desk - the only thing that changes because of that is how you might accomplish some of these things.

    Here's 10 pretty simple rules that would greatly improve pretty much anybody's health:

    1) Cut out a large amount of the carbs you eat (simple sugars and starches, grains) - especially foods with little to no nutrition OTHER than the carbohydrates (bread, cereal, potatoes, rice, sugar - almost all carbs!)
    2) Eat lots of fresh vegetables and to a lesser extent, fruit, all day, erryday.
    3) Lots of lean protein - chicken, fish, pork, beef.
    4) Keep yourself hydrated with plain old ice water - skip the soda, skip the gatorade, skip the lifewater, it's all bullshit full of sugar and chemicals. Coffee and/or tea sparingly - 1-2 cups a day, and don't overdo the caffeine.
    5) Every couple hours, get up, and take a short walk around the building. 5-10 minutes: pee break, refill your water, stretch your legs, and change your eye focus. Maybe step outside for a breath of fresh air.
    6) Each day, spend at least 30-60 minutes of light-to-moderate exercising. Your choice of activities, but we're talking light-to-medium cardio (nothing too heavy - hard cardio daily will put you at risk eventually of systemic inflammation & overtraining... bad bad bad stuff), some stretching, and a little bit of strength building. Mix it up, so your body doesn't get into a rut and you don't overtrain yourself. Find a buddy or two for the workout, and it'll be a lot more fun.
    7) Get enough sleep. For most people, this is 6-8 hours a night. Plan your schedule around a reasonable bedtime & wake time.
    8) When you get out of work, don't go home and stare at a game screen all night. Go have a drink with some friends, schedule a date, go do some errands... something that'll encourage you to socialize a bit. People with strong "social support networks" (not Facebook... real-life positive interactions with real people) tend to be healthier.
    9) Consider basic vitamin/mineral/omega3/probiotic supplementation, at least occasionally during periods of intense stress.
    10) Have sex. Yes, with a partner.

The one day you'd sell your soul for something, souls are a glut.