What Have You Gained?

Sharon Koehler

Artistic Stone Design

The AMA (American Medical Association) and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) plus countless others have been saying for years that adult Americans are growing (no pun intended) on the overweight and obesity scales. Over 40 percent of adult Americans fall into the overweight or obese categories, and we show no signs of reversing this trend. Even New York tried to weigh in (pun intended) on the epidemic by trying to ban those large sodas. Remember that? It wasn’t that long ago. And it is not a laughing matter.

Think about it. Back in the day, we had to work a lot harder and be a lot more physical to get things done. If you wanted to talk to a co-worker you had to get up and walk over to them. These days you just sit at your desk and send a text or an e-mail. Business meetings were held somewhere that you physically had to walk to. Now it’s Facetime, Skype, emails and texts – no physical effort involved. Moms don’t chase kids anymore. They drop them at a sitter or daycare and go to a desk and sit all day. Housework was the same. Washed clothes had to be lugged outside and hung on a line. Now, we just shove wet clothes in a dryer. Vacuuming could offer some physical exercise, but nowadays we have automatic vacuum cleaners. You program it and while you are at work, it vacuums for you. We don’t have to grocery shop anymore. No more walking up and down the aisles looking for deals. You can conveniently just sit at your computer and order. Then you either drive to the store where they load it into your car for you, or they can even deliver it to your house – whichever you prefer. 

Don’t have the energy to walk your dog? Call Wag or Rover. Don’t want to wash your car? Run it through a car wash, or call a mobile detailer.

Food back in the day was fresh and just plain healthier. There were very few prepackaged meals with all the nitrates and preservatives. Don’t want to cook or microwave anything? No worries, just order from Uber Eats or Grubhub. Kids used to play outside when they got home and on the weekends. Now, it’s video games taking the place of making up games and outdoor fun with their peers. 

Granted, with all these wonderful, modern advances we are more productive, but we are also gaining weight. I used to work at a big box hardware store. When I was a floor associate, I got plenty of walking exercise, and everything was good. When I started getting promotions and moving up, I started spending more time at a desk. I started gaining weight. I was younger then, and didn’t pay much attention. I wish I had, because now I am finding it dang near impossible to get it back off! Being overweight can increase your chances of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and many other ailments. 

So, if you are like me and work in the world of desk jockeys, what can you do? The first and most obvious answer is of course – GO TO THE GYM. Don’t just join the gym but actually go. Have no fear: if a gym membership isn’t plausible, there are things you can do to help yourself out. 

One thing you can do is get a fitness tracker (like a Fitbit). I have one and I have set it for 30 minutes of inactivity. When it detects no physical activity for 30 minutes it vibrates on my wrist. That is my cue to get up and walk around, even if it is just down the hall or out to the back. Most can be set to your preference, whether it’s a 30-minute, 60-minute, or 90-minute alert. They also keep track of your steps. Ten-Thousand (10,000) steps a day is recommended, but you can work up to it. You can start at say 3,000 and gradually increase over time to 10,000, and more. 

There are also exercises that you can actually do at your desk. Leg exercises are great at your desk. Sit in your chair and raise one leg out straight. Hold for 5 seconds. Then lift it up as high as you can and hold for 5 seconds. Do each leg 15 times. You can also try chair squats. Sit tall in your chair. Extend your arms out in front of you. Stand up – keeping your arms straight out in front of you. Reverse the process and sit down. Do this 15 times. (A note of caution before you do any chair exercises – If your chair has wheels, either put the brakes on or anchor it up against your desk or a wall.)

Stretches are also great at your desk. Is your neck feeling stiff? Put your hands by your sides, palms in. Raise them up to shoulder height palms down. Bow your head and roll your head around in a circle 10 times clockwise and 10 times counter clockwise. There are stretches for all parts of your body that can be done at your desk.

There are other things you can do when you have a desk job. Talk a walk at lunch (weather permitting); get an ergonomically correct ball chair or a desk that will let you stand up part of the time. If you Google desk exercises you will see hundreds of different things you can do to help you stay out of the desk jockey weight gain trap. The point is, take advantage of technology and all the information available at your fingertips. Our innovations and inventions should help us live better lives, not make us sick.

Please send your thoughts on this article to Sharon Koehler at