The Anti “Death by Cubicle” Plan for Every Career Girl

Sitting in a cubicle (or a desk, or an office) for 8 hours or more a day isn’t the greatest thing you can do for your body.  A study published in Archives of Internal Medicine found that adults who sat for more than eight hours a day had a 15% greater risk of dying within 3 years than those who sat for fewer than four hours a day.  Your posture is probably taking a toll, too:

If you sit in a cubicle like me, you’re blocked off from personal contact with your other office mates.  Many find that cubicles result in slow productivity and conjure up feelings of being “trapped in a box”.

I had to sit in a cubicle for about 8 hours a day for a long period of time last year, and it was absolutely horrible.  The sitting for long periods of time, the lack of personal interaction with co-workers, and the never ending drones of desktop computers and keyboard strokes.  I knew there were thousands of offices across America that were just like mine, and millions of people were going through the exact same thing…and I had to do something about it.

Since your office probably won’t be giving everyone a corner office with a nice big window or host fun and stimulating breaks every 3 hours, Ms. Career Girl’s got your back!  I have created a plan for you career girls out there to keep you happier, more active, and more sane during your 8-9 hour (or more!) work day.  Since every career girl’s work schedule differs, here is a basic plan for you to follow every day—you can modify any area to fit your day better!

Pre-work ritual: Wake up and eat a healthy breakfast.  Most people don’t eat breakfast and let’s be real, they aren’t doing themselves any favors.  You absolutely NEED to jump start your metabolism.  You will feel more energetic and happier with something in your stomach.  Make sure to eat something with plenty of protein and carbs.

What I typically eat for breakfast: egg omelet mixed with veggies OR a hearty bowl of whole grain cereal with lactose-free milk (I’m lactose-intolerant.  Aim for skim milk when possible!)

8:00 AM: Arrive at work

9:00 AM:  Alternating leg squats and stretch.  Wake up those nice gams! Take turns doing one legged-squats, 10 on each leg.  With your hands on your hips, make sure your knees don’t go past your toes, and pull your bottom down as deep as you can go.  Repeat on each leg.  Afterwards, remain standing and stretch your full body from your legs to your neck.  It doesn’t have to be a full-on stretching session, like what you do after an exercise class.  Just something brief will suffice.







Position #1: Right leg squat










Position #2: Left leg squat. I’m in a skirt and I’m aware that most of you will probably be wearing either a skirt or dress pants.  Since these won’t give you much range of motion, squat as deep as your clothes will permit. We don’t want you to rip your pants!

10:00 AM:  Drink water/ mid-morning snack. Most people do not consume enough water throughout the day.  Now is a good time to fill up your cup and drink up!  I try to shoot for at least 4 full cups of water during each half of the work day.  This is also a good time to eat your mid-morning snack, if needed.  Good options are: any fruit, celery sticks, granola bars, carrot sticks, or a few whole grain crackers.








Here’s my cup I keep at my desk for water.  I’m a Mavs fan….GO MAVS!

10:30 AM: Socialize with a co-worker(s).  Like I mentioned before, cubicles reduce interpersonal interactions and are a mode of isolation.  Walk around and say hi to your fellow workers.  Joke around in the break room.  Engage in conversation to take your mind off every day work stressors.  Be sure to keep the socializing to only a few minutes…we don’t want our bosses to be angry!

11:00 AM: Desk push-ups and stretch. Your desk is a great place to do push-ups! Put your arms straight onto the edge of your desk and position your body at about a 90 degree angle.  Push your bottom down so your entire body is STRAIGHT.  Proceed to do at least 10 push-ups or as many as you can.  If you have wrist or shoulder problems, just stay in position #1 (below) and hold for 60 seconds.  This will work out your shoulders, arms, and chest.








Position #1: Arms straight, body in a straight line in a 90 degree position.








Position #2: Lower your body down to the desk, resulting in a push-up.  Remember to aim your chest to your hands.

12:00 PM: Lunch.  Make healthy decisions regarding lunch.  What you eat will determine how you’re going to feel the rest of the day.  Stuffing yourself with too many carbs will make you sleepy and unproductive, while not eating enough will leave you hungry before the day is over.

1:30 PM: Short walk.  If you can, go for a light, 5-10 minute walk at least 30 minutes after you’ve completed lunch.  Remember, this is a LIGHT walk—no power-walking or running.  A Mayo Clinic study has suggested that light exercise (like walking) after any meal can lower your blood sugar and prevent your body from storing fat.  This will help reduce the exhausting 2:30 feeling.

2:30 PM: Calf raises.  Stand with your feet flat on the ground.  If you’re wearing heels, take them off.  Do 50 calf raises at your own pace.








Position #1: Feet flat on the ground, facing forward. Hands on your hips.








Position #2: Rise up on your tip-toes and then lower yourself.

3:30 PM: Stretch/water/mid-afternoon snack.  Just like you did at 10AM, except you’re adding in a brief stretch too.

4:30 PM: One last social break.  We get it—the last 30-60 minutes of the work day tend to drag on forever!  Perhaps there is a question that you wanted to ask your co-worker, or you wanted to compliment your cube mate on her fabulous outfit.  Whatever it is, the last 30 minutes of work will fly by.

5:00 PM: Leave work!  Congrats, you’ve just completed your day the MCG way!

These exercises/activities aren’t meant to take up a lot of your time and should only take up to 5 minutes, tops.  These exercises are also meant to be light, NOT rigorous.

Vivian Ta

Vivian is a running fanatic and founder of The Daily Runner, a website dedicated to inspire people all over the world to start running. Currently pursuing her Ph.d in Experimental Psychology at the University of Texas at Arlington, Vivian is also a certified fitness instructor. Her fitness and wellness column is featured on MCG every other Wednesday. Connect with Vivian on Twitter @dailyrunnerpage and on Facebook Facebook.

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