Most of us sit at a desk for more than eight hours a day, staring at a tiny monitor, writing humdrum reports, and risking carpal tunnel in our fingers. The most exercise we get is from walking… on our way to the bathroom, or to a meeting, or once in a while, to lunch. Multiply this by five (or more) days a week, and it’s amazing that we can still squeeze through the doorways. A recent article described the habits of another group with “squat, furry bodies” akin to ours:
“Pandas have been ridiculed for their decidedly non-bearlike vegetarian diets, their apparent lack of interest in — and aptitude for — sex, their tendency to spend the majority of their time sitting, eating, scratching, and defecating (about 40 times per day) — even for being, shall we say, plump.” – from MSNBC
While our nation’s best politicians have shown that humans do not lack interest in sex (where is Eliot Spitzer these days?), we seem to be more like pandas than ever before. The growing incidence of obesity in the world has reached over 300 million people worldwide. About 1 in 6 humans globally are considered overweight, and this ratio is even higher in industrialized countries. Indeed, perhaps much of this can be attributed to our workplace routine, where most of our days revolve around sitting, eating, scratching, and defecating… albeit at a much lower rate.
As evidenced by FOX’s short-lived series Man vs. Beast, humans have never been able to claim physical dominance over animals. Eventually our collective obesity could deem humans as nature’s next “evolutionary mistake,” a term typically reserved for our plump panda friends. Given that the white-collar workforce is at the forefront of our nation’s expanding pants size, here are a few workplace exercises that may help ease our gravitational burden:
- The (Silent) Scream: If you ever thought that your face looked fat in a photo, try the silent scream. By stretching your lower jaw and neck muscles, while not actually emitting any sound, you can minimally improve the girth of your face. It’s also guaranteed to make your co-workers think twice about invading your personal space.
- Office Chair Rowing: Think about your office chair as a poor man’s Bowflex. Start with some sets of butt clenches at your desk. Then try some air rowing to gain momentum. It’s always impressive when you can make your chair move without pedaling, and it’ll tighten up that derriere as well.
- Lunges Combined with Stapler Curls: Make every trip to the bathroom exciting; not only would lunges help build those quad muscles for tree-climbing, but working up those biceps with staplers is a great way to keep in shape. And once you get a handle on staplers, you can move on to the three-hole punch, coffee pots, and perhaps even reams of legal-sized paper.
Finally, just a note: we acknowledge that there are fundamental differences between humans and pandas that make such a comparison preposterous. However, pandas are cute, hard-working, and relatable. If their impending extinction doesn’t make us start thinking about our own love handles and sedentary lifestyle, then what will? So for all of us, the plight of our chubby panda pals can give us a directive: either get on the can 40 times a day, or start doing some lunges.