Exercise does not have to be done in one chunk to experience the benefits. Sporadic exercise throughout the day can be very effective, says “V” Maurya M.D., a certified personal trainer and board-certified physician. “A few strong muscle contractions here and there can provide the necessary stimulus to create changes in your muscle,” he adds.
Prolonged sitting increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol. “It also decreases mental function and deprives you of mood-elevating neurotransmitters,” Dr. Maurya says. And this isn't something you can totally counteract by hitting the gym for an hour after work.
The 6-hour period of continuous sitting during the workday will still carry a negative impact despite your efforts to exercise outside of work. “So it's imperative that you use every opportunity at work to move around,” he adds. It will even increase productivity and reduce stress.
There is no “best time” during regular office hours for a workout, and this is good news. “There are schools of thought that promote exercising in the morning before eating, but the science doesn't support its benefit. The more important factor is to try to stay active throughout the day in addition to your regular workout routine,” Dr. Maurya says.
Sitting for a long time with the neck extended forward can cause neck strain and creates tightness in the muscles in your shoulders. “A stooped posture while sitting at your desk disengages your abdominal muscles, leading to abdominal muscle weakness,” he says. “It also creates tight hip flexor and weak glute muscles, since your hips remain in a flexed position and sitting doesn't demand anything from the muscles that make up your butt.”
The American Heart Association says people should exercise for 150 minutes per week. Divide that in five and you end up needing to work out just 30 minutes a day. Split that a few more times, and you can be active for a few minutes several times a day.
“Moving around in a work environment needs to be destigmatized,” Dr. Maurya says. “We have been taught since childhood to remain in our seats or we would get into trouble, but this needs to change, for our health's sake.”