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Office exercises help keep you fit

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The human body is a masterfully designed machine capable of performing a staggering range of activities. From extraordinary feats of brute strength to delicate precision, it truly is a versatile piece of equipment. An endurance task such as walking for many miles nonstop is a particular specialty that was quite useful for following herds of mammoth across vast distances while gathering wild roots and berries along the way, or trudging along behind an ox-driven plow. In those times the most active parts of the body were the legs, gluteus and core.

Today the tools and weapons of survival are a computer mouse and keyboard, and fingers and eyes take priority, with the gluteus relegated to the mere job of providing a seat. Sitting for hours on end, day after day, presents a new set of circumstances our bodies are ill equipped to handle, resulting in backaches, pinched nerves, bulging disks and carpal tunnel problems. The body simply is not adapted to handle such "strenuous" labor. Here are a few tricks to help stave off office injuries:

» To keep the core active throughout the day, switch between an exercise ball and your chair. Not only does this keep your core active, there exists the potential to burn an extra 350 calories for the day. Do not attempt to sit on the ball the entire day on your first attempt. As with any new exercise, you have to allow time for your body to condition to the new demands. Start first with a 10-minute session and gradually work yourself up to a full hour. When you start to slump and find yourself slouching and needing more support, your core musculature is tired and needs to rest.

» When appropriate, stand for an equal amount of time spent sitting. This will give those sitting muscles a chance to rest. Also, studies show that when you stand versus sit, you can burn up to 50 more calories per hour. Over the course of an eight-hour day, that adds up to 400 more calories burned. Over the course of a week, that is a 12.8-ounce weight loss.

With a few minor adjustments to the office routine, you can reclaim those sore, achy areas.

Reggie Palma is an exercise physiologist and personal trainer. He has a fourth-degree black belt in the Filipino martial art kali. He can be reached at or 392-2314.


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