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Is your office making you FAT? Here's how to lose those kilos

Last updated on: October 29, 2013 10:11 IST

Is your office making you FAT? Here's how to lose those kilos



Excerpt from fitness guru Namita Jain's new book 9 to 5 Fit.

Work-related stress, binge eating, alcohol buddies and office parties are just some of the many ways in which your job adds those odious kilos to you.

Add to that the infamous excuse of not having enough time to exercise and you have a ticking health time bomb on your hand.

In her latest book 9 to 5 fit, Namita Jain brutally lists out everything we do wrong while we are at work and offers workable solutions to get around them.

Jain who started her career as a Clinical Fitness Specialist at the famous Bombay Hospital has been practicing for over 25 years now. (Read her interview here and here)

Besides being a columnist with magazines such as Elle, GQ and the newspaper The Hindu, Jain offers guidance in aerobics, yoga, Pilates, step-workout and interval training.

We bring you an excerpt from the chapter titled Squeeze In Some Fitness Time. (Purchase a copy of 9 to 5 Fit on Rediff Books)

Time is that elusive creature all of us are running after in our busy lives. There's just no time to relax, no time to eat and worst of all, no time to exercise!

For an office-goer, who spends most of his waking hours at work, where is the time to exercise? But, to use a time-worn cliche, where there is a will there is a way. Take another look at your busy day; surely, there are snatches of time when you aren't actually doing anything. Add them all up—moments spent chatting at the photocopier machine, providing company to a colleague who wishes to take a puff, chatting at lunchtime, surfi ng the Internet. Calculate. It all adds to an hour, sometimes more than an hour.

So there it is, your exercise time! This is how I work on 'exercise time' for my 'no-time-to-exercise' clients. And happily, with good results. A little planning here, a little tweaking there and a huge dollop of willingness, and there you are! Being fit despite the 'no-time' syndrome.

So let's start with The Basics:

Taking the stairs instead of the lift, parking away from office so that you can walk that extra length, walking around in office... these are great ways to get those calories burning.

Here are some more suggestions:

  • Just as you have an alarm to wake you up, now have another one going off every three hours to remind you to get up and get moving. Even swinging your arms or deep breathing will refresh you.
  • It's important to keep track of the number of steps you take in a day. Do this by using a pedometer. Ideally, you should aim for 10,000 steps every day.
  • If you get a lot of phone calls in a day, use that to keep fit by walking while talking.
  • If there is a document that needs to be delivered on another floor of your office, don't do it through the office help. Deliver it personally. It will improve your people skills and your fitness levels as well. The rule to keep in mind: No lift, only stairs.
  • If you are eating out, choose a place that is some distance away and then walk it there.

Use your creativity. Nobody knows your office better than you do. Find ways and means to stay active. It will drive stress away and make you more energetic. And a stress-free, energetic worker is always a pleasure to have around!

Excerpted with permission of Penguin Books India from the book 9 to 5 Fit by Namita Jain Rs 199.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

Photographs: Gadgetnz/Wikimedia Commons


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My client Namrata Thukral's constant refrain was: 'Work pressures tire me. I am too fatigued to exercise.'

My solution: Break your workouts into three 10-minute segments through the day.

Taking three short breaks to exercise is easier and less tiring than one 30-minute workout session. (Note: Exercises need not be complicated; even simple routines like walking or jogging work well.)

I also assured Namrata that exercising regularly would in fact give her more energy to cope with the work pressures.

Another client, Devan Warrier, lamented, 'My co-workers and friends are not physically active, so I neglect exercise too.'

My solution: You can be the inspiration. There are many rewards in exercising regularly -- better sleep, a stronger, healthier body and more energy. This will surely inspire your colleagues and friends to get active as well.

Simple Changes For A Fitter You

Me-time, exercise time -- exercise during mornings

Exercising early in the morning will get you charged up and the energy will remain with you throughout the day.

Another benefit of exercising in the morning is that you automatically fit it into your schedule.

Exercising at the end of the day is less likely to happen as you might get stuck in office or simply not have the energy.

If you are not a morning person, carry your workout kit to office and head to a gym straight from work.

Make exercise a commitment, a lifelong one at that.

Exercise while commuting

Clench your fists and tighten your body for 5 seconds; then relax completely for 5 seconds. Repeat 3–5 times. This improves circulation and energizes your body.

Relax your eyes

Eye relaxation techniques help release eye strain. With regular practice, the ocular nerves are nourished and receive a richer supply of blood.

Techniques to relax the eyes:


Rub your palms together till they are warm and keep them cupped over closed eyes. Remain in that position for at least a minute. Repeat this exercise as often as you can during the day.


Get into the habit of blinking regularly to prevent eye fatigue. This simple method is said to release eye stress.

Cold-water freshness

Using cupped palms, splash cold water 15 times over closed eyes. Gently wipe them. This works well to refresh and relax your eyes and the surrounding tissue muscles.

Suck it in

At all times, keep your abs tucked in. This will strengthen the muscles and help you maintain better posture.

Daily dose of vitamin D

Strengthen your bones by walking outdoors for 15–20 minutes and soaking in the goodness of early-morning sunshine.

Photographs: Mario Tama/Getty Images

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Desk stretches

Take short breaks to stretch so as to release muscle stiffness and tension. Do this without leaving your desk. Make use of all the time you can spare—phone time, time spent waiting for the meeting to start . . . you can always make time!

Breathe out stress

Stressed out? Take a few deep breaths. Deep and slow breathing makes the heart and lungs stronger and more efficient. Perform the following breathing exercises 5–7 times each.

Breathe deeply

Take slow, calming breaths with your eyes closed. When you inhale, focus on breathing in a calm manner and when you exhale, breathe out all mental fatigue.


Shut your eyes. Tense your entire body. Hold for two seconds and relax completely. Repeat. Then slowly breathe in and out in a relaxed manner. Repeat.

Pursed-lip breathing

Breathe in slowly through your nose; then breathe out just as slowly and gently through pursed lips. (Pursed lips: imitate a whistle or how you would gently make the flame of a candle flicker.

Photographs: Shameem Akthar

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Perform these simple, easy-to-do stretches every day at your convenience to get rid of body stiffness and relaxing your mind. Note: Hold each stretch for 10–30 seconds. Breathe normally when you hold the stretch. Do not hold your breath.

Trunk Twist

Sitting on a chair, bent your elbows and clasp your palms. Twist your spine and slowly turn to the left and then to the right.

Neck Stretch

Drop your head to the right side bringing your ear close to your shoulder. Then return to the centre. Now switch sides.

Chest Stretch

Sit with both your arms behind your back, clasp your palms and slowly lift them until you feel a stretch in your chest muscles or pectorals.

Upper Back Stretch

Clasp your arms in front of you so that you feel the stretch in your upper back. Lower your head during the stretch so that your chin is close to your chest.

Arms Stretch

Extend both arms straight above your head, palms touching each other as if doing a namaste.

Shoulder Rolls

Rotate your shoulder forward a few times and then backwards.

Thigh and Hip Stretch

Sit on a chair and cross the right leg over the left so that the right foot is resting on the left thigh. Place your right palm on the right knee and gently push it down. Switch legs.

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

Raise one leg so as to rest the heel on the edge of a chair. Slowly bring the knee closer to your chest. Repeat with the other leg.

Wrist Stretch

It is important to stretch out a bit before you exercise. To stretch your wrist, extend your arm in front, palm facing upwards, and hold the fi ngers with the other hand. Now pull the fingers towards you to get a forearm stretch. Hold for 10–20 seconds. Repeat with the other hand.

Wrist stretches are important when you consider just how much work they do when you are on the computer. Remember to be gentle while pulling and stretching. Smooth movements are safe, avoid jerky ones.

Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/

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Upper Body Strengthening

Lift your arms up to shoulder level and push overhead, extending your arms as you do this. Bring your arms back to shoulder level. Repeat 16 times.

Rest your palms on the armrest. With elbows bent and palms in line with the torso, extend your arms and lift yourself up. Then lower. Repeat 8–10 times.

Place your palms in front of your chest in a namaste position. Press tightly. Feel the chest muscles work as you do this. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat 6–8 times.

Ab-solutely fit

Tighten your abs for 10–15 seconds and release. Repeat 10 times.

Lower Body Exercises

To exercise your thighs, sit in an upright position with your abs tucked in and stretch your right leg until it is at the same level as your hip. Now squeeze your thigh. Do it for a count of 10 by holding each side for 2–3 seconds. Repeat 6–8 times.

To firm up your inner thighs, roll a thick towel between your knees as you sit in the same erect position. Squeeze the towel, release and squeeze again. Do this 16 times.

Sit on your chair and lift yourself until your hips are just over the chair (in a squat position). Do not place your arms on the armrest for balance. Hold for 2 –3 seconds and repeat 16 times.

Be well-equipped

If you can, try and store the following at work: a set of dumb-bells, a resistance band and ankle weights. That way even when you are talking over the phone, you can get in some quick upper and lower body exercises. If not, you could always use water bottles in place of dumb-bells.

Note: When you are working out on a chair, make sure it's stable and not the swivelling kind.

Photographs: 9 to 5 Fit
Tags: FAT

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