Athletes are not the only people to get injured, but we now see that with the growing population of the work force more and more employees are getting injured due to inactivity or bad posture. As a matter of a fact 80-90% of the U.S. population is affected by lower back pain with treatment costs estimated at around 31 billion dollars per year (Schenk et al., 2003). A large majority of the individuals experiencing this kind of pain are the working force who sit on a computer around 8 hours a day. With our nation constantly falling incredibly short of almost all of the daily exercise recommendations that were created by many organizations to help us, we continue to have increasingly larger health risks and injuries in the work force. I too wish that watching Daryl or Rick from Walking Dead run for their lives counted as activity, but maybe its time that we prepare ourselves for the apocalypse of the future. Or maybe we can just prepare ourselves to live longer happier lives.
The American College of Sports Medicine, or ACSM, recently released new recommendations on quantity and quality of exercise. Carol Ewing Garber said, “The scientific exercise we reviewed is indisputable. When it comes to exercise, the benefits far outweigh the risks. A program of regular exercise – beyond activities of daily living – is essential for most adults.” ACSM created recommendations for 4 basic types of exercise.
The first type was Cardiorespiratory Exercise. ACSM recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise, which can easily be achieved by walking, jogging, biking, or any other aerobic activity 5 days per week with 30 minutes of activity per day. Workers that have an hour long lunch may eat for 30 minutes, while walking for another. Walking and stretching the body is almost essential when working a desk job for a large majority of the day.
ACSM also recommends resistance exercise two to three days per week. Since time is usually an issue for the working class, I recommend being efficient with exercise selection and being frugal with exercise time. Full workouts can be conducted in 30 minutes by working on functional body weight exercises and strength building compound lifts. This workout may include dynamic warm-ups for 5-10 minutes and strength building exercises for 10-20 minutes and a short cool down after. After doing this workout, you may go back to your regular routine of eating dinner and watching television, playing with the kids, or even playing your xbox 360, 180, 1 or playstation. If you do not have time for that then I recommend double dipping. You can do some bodyweight exercises while watching your tv shows or wilding out in the video game of choice.
The next type of exercise covered by ACSM is flexibility exercise. They recommend doing flexibility exercise two to three days per week. Stretches should be held for 10-30 seconds per stretch, but should total 60 seconds per stretch. For example, you may put your hand against a wall and work on stretching out your chest for 15 seconds and switch sides to stretch for another 15 seconds and keep switching until a total of 60 seconds is reached. If you are sitting on a desk, stretching out the hip flexors and the chest are essential. After prolonged sitting, your hip flexors will be incredibly tight and really restrict movement with lower body exercises and form will be compromised. Stretching out the stretch is just as crucial due to an imbalance in the shoulder complex due to working on a desk. I recommend stretching those muscles along with others 2-3 days per week after exercise. ACSM also notes that flexibility exercises are enhanced when the muscles are warm.
The last type of exercise is neuromotor exercise. This will include exercises that involve proprioceptive exercise training, motor skills, and multifaceted activities. Many dynamic bodyweight exercises may be used to achieve this recommendation. The Ice Skater is a great plyometric exercise that involves different planes of motion as well balance and strength. A simple way to work on core strength and gait is doing an exercise called a farmer’s carry. This will involve holding onto a dumbbell or weight on one or both sides of the body. When holding a weight on one part of the body, the core musculature works hard on holding the body upright. This can also be achieved if someone in the working force has a briefcase or purse and holds it in their hand instead of wearing it on their back. Parking a little bit further from work will include more exercise. You just need to make sure you switch arms!
ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise. (n.d.).American School of Sports Medicine. Retrieved November 26, 2014, from http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2011/08/01/acsm-issues-new-recommendations-on-quantity-and-quality-of-exercise
Schenk, R., Jozefczyk, C., & Kopf, A. (2003). A Randomized Trial Comparing Interventions in Patients with Lumbar Posterior Derangement. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, 95-102.