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  • Strength training: desk jockey style

    By Danno

    I believe a fit freelancer is a more profitable freelancer. From a fitness point of view, I dig the idea of having a job that allows me to work outdoors and do physical work.  That way I could enjoy being outside, keep fit and make a good living. As it turns out, I’m worth a lot more behind a computer and for the most part, love being there.

    Photo by ericmcgregor.

    Keep some dumbbells laying around the office and sneak a set in now and then.

    The downside of being a nerd is having my body atrophy when I don’t push myself to stay active. I mean, we all know that keeping in shape is a great idea (for a so many reasons) but I think it’s especially true for us desk jockeys who are in long-term peril of turning somewhat chair shaped.

    So I got to thinking about making my fitness more accessible.   About a month ago I purchased a set of dumbbells.  You know the ones with metal handle and you slide the plates on each end; and I’ve been keeping these off to the side of my desk, on the floor.  And I gotta say, I’m lovin’ it!

    Nowadays, when I need a break or figure it’s just time, I get up and do a set or two. Dumbbells rock as there are tons of excercizes that you can do with ’em.  My faves right now are:

    • Hammer curls
    • Shoulder press
    • Lateral raises
    • Squats!

    Admittedly, lifting weights felt gross for the first couple of weeks; as it always does. It had been awhile for me and when I got started I was shakey (read: weak). Those shakes went in less than a couple of weeks as my muscles adapted. So yeah, about four weeks into it, I’m already feelin’ that much stronger and … well … better!

    Any of you got tips on keeping active while at work?

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    About the author

    Danno started freelancing in 1996. He is the co-founder and (ex) President of Graphics.net, owner of FeedIcons.com, EliteFreelancing.com, FastCharacters.com and SteelAndSnow.com. He digs wind, waves, guitars and circles. Follow Danno on Twitter.

    Comments on this article...

    • Brandy:

      This is one of the biggest worries I have had since I started sitting behind my screen all day.

      In the past all of my jobs were very active, lots of walking, lifting, I even indulged in being a personal trainer for a while. That information helped me to remember a few exercises to keep me healthy in my new and beloved line of work behind my desk.

      1. An exercise ball. The big kind filled with air. Some people call them swiss balls, some call them fitness balls, they’re all the same thing. But I use one as a chair when I know I will be camped out in front of the monitor for a very long time…working out some code or design. Sitting on that requires me to use my core muscles and to sit up straight (or I will fall off!). The ball is also great for those long periods when I need a stretch, I simply roll slightly forward on the ball, lean back and lay my back against it and stretch my arms over my head. Feels great! And if I am feeling exceptionally ambitious, I’ll work in a few tummy crunches too!

      2. I spread everything out in my home office. At first I was all about making things convenient for myself, having all of my materials as close as possible, so I could just slide left/right to get what I needed.
      Not anymore. While it may feel like a pain in the butt at first, and the organizing side of you might fight this plan, having things spread out to where you need to get up and go to them helps to keep the blood flowing and reminds you to move around a bit more.

      3. Get outside! I have had days where I realized I hadn’t seen the sky the entire day! Assuming it’s not bad weather, get your butt out of the chair and go outside, breath some fresh air, walk around your yard/apartment building/block and take a break from what you’re working on. Luckily I have a dog, so I take that time to go outside and play with him a bit, giving him and I both the exercise we need.

      4. (The last one, I promise) Some really simple exercise moves you can do from the chair:

      Scoot your butt to the edge f the chair, contract your stomach and lean back far enough to feel your tummy working but not touching the back of your chair. hold that position for 10 seconds. Repeat as many times as you can.

      Come forward completely off of your chair, but maintain a hold onto your seat with your hands. So you should look as though you are sitting in a invisible chair, just in front of your actual chair, with your arms behind you at a slight angle holding onto your actual chair. Dip your body down far enough so that your elbows bend but do not come above your shoulders, then using your arms, push yourself back into your starting position.

      That’s it for now (pretty sure that was plenty). Hope someone finds it useful!

    • Danno:

      Brandy: I like the “Swiss ball for a chair” idea. Admittedly I tried a couple of years ago and found myself bouncing around too much (and getting kind of dizzy) so I gave it up. I think I’m grown up enough to give it another shot. Heh.

      Your second point about spreading things out the in the office to make them a little less accessible: this is simultaneously counter-intuitive and very cool. I guess it would be somewhat of an art to layout the office to be just accessible enough to be functional yet have that “get outta yer chair!” edge. Great tips, cheers.