In a recent survey of a cross-section of one Middle East country’s residents by health insurance provider Daman, 40 per cent of respondents were found to be either overweight or obese, while a survey by the World Health Organisation put the figure even higher, at 50 per cent. And it’s not just bad food choices that are making us fat – many people in the region have grown used to a sedentary lifestyle, thanks to a combination of the climate and the pedestrian-unfriendly layout of local cities. Sitting in at a desk for 10 hours a day, five or even six days a week can make it difficult to stay in shape.
To help you out, nutritionist Carole Holditch, founder of healthy-eating group Good Habits, offers some office-friendly exercises to include in your routine.
Lower body exercises
• Hip flexion Sit tall with the abs pulled in and lift the left foot off the floor a few inches, knee bent. Hold for two seconds, lower and repeat 10 times. Repeat on the other side.
• Leg extension Sit tall with the abs pulled in and extend the left leg until it’s level with your hip, squeezing the quadriceps. Hold for two seconds, lower and repeat 10 times. Repeat on the other side.
• Chair squat While sitting, lift up until your hips are just hovering over the chair, with your arms out for balance. Hold for two seconds, stand all the way up and repeat 10 times.
• Dips Make sure your chair is stable, then place your hands next to your hips. Move hips in front of the chair and bend the elbows, lowering your body until the elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Push back up and repeat 10 times.
Upper body exercises
• Front raise to triceps press Sit tall with the abs in and hold a full water bottle in the left hand. Lift the bottle up to shoulder level, pause, then continue lifting all the way up over the head. When the arm is next to the ear, bend the elbow, taking the water bottle behind you and contracting the triceps. Straighten the arm and lower down, repeating 10 times on each arm.
• Bicep curl Hold a water bottle in the right hand and, with abs in and spine straight, curl the bottle towards shoulder 10 times. Repeat other side.
• Side bends Hold a water bottle with both hands and stretch it up over the head, arms straight. Gently bend towards the left as far as you can, contracting the abs. Come back to the centre and repeat to the right. Complete 10 bends (bending to the right and left is one rep).
• Abdominal twists Hold the water bottle at chest level and, keeping the knees and hips forward, gently twist to the left as far as you can comfortably, feeling the abs contract. Twist back to the centre and move to the left for a total of 10 times. Don’t force it or you may injure your back. For more health tips from Good Habits, see www.goodhabitsuae.com
10 ways to be more active every day
1 Wash vigorously in the shower to use more energy. 6 When you get to work, do some stretches while your PC boots up. 2 Squeeze a stress ball at your desk. 3 Don’t send emails to people within the office – walk over to talk to your colleagues. 4 Stand up and do squats when making a long phone call. 5 Buy your lunch from a more distant location at lunchtime – and don’t get it delivered. 7 Observe recommendations for taking breaks while working at your desk (one to two minutes every half hour, five minutes every few hours and so on). Do something active during the break. 8 Take the stairs instead of the lifts, within reason (35 floors in a suit isn’t ideal). If you already take the stairs, take them two at a time. 9 Place some of the things you need for work on the opposite side of the office. Research has shown that overweight people set up their environment to minimise activity – everything they need is close by. 10 If possible, swap your office chair for a fitness ball, which will improve your balance and posture while toning your core muscles.