Gaining Weight at Work? Why it Happens and How to Stop It
Obesity is a rising trend in our country and some experts even go so far as to call it a disease. Recently, more people are gaining weight at work—find out why and how you can avoid the trend.
2 in 5 people say they’ve gained weight at work and unfortunately, this number isn’t very surprising. When we have a huge workload and a number of other responsibilities to get through, it’s much easier to grab a convenient slice of pizza or guzzle down cookies from the break room. Unfortunately, it may catch up to you.
CareerBuilder recently released a national study that found that 41% of people are gaining weight at work. That’s almost half of the country! Those who sit at a desk all day or have high levels of stress, have even higher rates of weight gain.
This can happen to anyone and it should be noted that gaining weight at work is not just linked to a particular field. Administrative assistants, engineers, teachers, nurse practitioners, IT managers, legal professionals, production workers and scientists were among professions that had the highest reports of weight gain, according to the CareerBuilder survey.
The 3,600 full-time workers surveyed by Career Builder say that they’re gaining weight at work because of their all-day desk lifestyle, stress eating and food found at the office.
Here’s a closer look at the phenomenon.
A staggering look at the numbers
• 69% of administrative assistants have reported weight gain.
• 56% of workers say their weight gain comes from long periods sitting at a desk.
• 17% of workers say workplace celebrations — including birthday and potlucks — contribute to their weight gain.
• 59% of workers say they work out on a regular basis.
• 70% of workers snack during the day.
• 24% of workers eat out three or more times a week.
What’s the real deal?
When it comes down to it, it’s mind over matter. Sitting at a desk all day with a big workload on your shoulders can make you feel more stressed and lose motivation to stay fit; but it’s not the job—you have to want to stay fit. Regular physical activity is key to maintaining proper health and nutrition no matter what you do or what responsibilities you have and there are plenty of exercises you can do in your office on your lunch break.
Regular exercise, however, won't get you anywhere if you don't pair it with healthy eating.
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Try these quick and easy exercises you can do at your desk so you can really start shedding those pounds.
Try these desk-approved exercises if you’re gaining weight at work:
The spinner: This will help with flexibility. Make sure you sit tall in your chair and reach your left hand behind your back, between your shoulder blades with your palm out. Then reach your right hand up toward the ceiling, bend it down and then try to touch your left hand. If you can reach it, that's great! Hold it for 10 seconds. If you can't, don't worry. Grab onto your shirt and keep practicing. Switch arms and then repeat.
Carpal tunnel buster: Carpal tunnel syndrome shouldn't get the best of you if you repeat this simple move every day. Stand at your desk with your arms straight and place your palms on the desk with your fingers pointed toward you. Slowly lower your body until you feel the stretch (you won't have to go far) and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat this as many times as you need to throughout the day.
Well-rounded body stretch: To help ease your hamstrings, lower back and calf muscles, push your chair away from your desk and put one leg up on your desk. Ladies, should try this on a day when they're not wearing a skirt. Flex your foot and lean slightly forward over your leg and make sure to keep your back straight. Hold for 10 seconds. Point your foot, lean in and hold for five more seconds. Then switch legs and repeat.
The tidal wave: This exercise is great because it works your core and your arms. To start, sit in your chair, cross your legs and put your feet on the seat. Then place your hands on the armrests of the chair, suck in your gut and hover a few inches above the seat, using your stomach muscles and hands. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat five more times.
Spinal helper: This well-rounded exercise enhances both flexibility and muscle strength. Make sure you sit tall in your chair, and stretch your arms high toward the ceiling. Put your left hand on the desk, grab the back of the chair with your right hand and twist all the way to the right. Then hold for 10 seconds. Next, release and raise your arms up toward the ceiling. Then repeat the twist going the other way and hold for 10 seconds.
Tricep dips: This exercise is for upper-body strength and ladies, this will help tone the backs of your arms. To begin, place your butt on the edge of the desk, then place your palms on the edge of the desk on both sides of your body. Keep your feet together, bend at the elbows and slide forward off of the desk and dip down a few inches, and then push back up. Dip so you can bend your elbows at 90 degrees. Try to do this 20 times. For another version of the exercise, put your feet on the chair instead.
Pretend chair sit: This is a good strengthening exercise for your body. Lower your seat as far as it will go. Stand in front of your chair with your feet about a hip's width apart. Place your hands on your hips and lower your butt until it's hovering above the seat. Then sit down as slowly as possible. Do this 20 times. If you want more of a challenge, reach your hands overhead as if you were holding a big object. If you're really feeling steady and adventurous, try it on one leg.
Pirate's leg: This is for lower-body strength: To start, sit in your chair and extend one leg out straight in front of you. Hold for two seconds. Then raise it up as high as you can, and hold it again for two more seconds. Repeat this exercise with each leg 15 times.
If you’re gaining weight at work, try these tips for eating healthy on the job:
Commute smart: If you drive to work, park further away to put in some walking time to help burn those calories. If you use public transportation, remember to get off a few stops early and walk for the rest of the way. And always use the stairs instead of the elevator, if you can.
Bring your lunch: Packing your lunch will help you control your nutrition and your portion sizes. It might save you some money, too.
Show your face: Instead of emailing, calling or instant messaging your co-worker, walk over and talk to them. All of these extra steps will add up and maybe you'll get to know your co-worker a little bit better.
Stock your office: More than one-third (38%) of office workers who snack everyday say they eat more unhealthy snacks in the office than at home. An additional 20% say fruits or vegetables aren't included in their snacks during the workweek. Make sure you stock your office with healthy snack options like carrots and hummus (if you have a refrigerator) or healthy protein bars for a midday pick-me-up to avoid being one of those numbers. Be creative and find what works for you.