Improve muscular strength during working hours

Muscular strength is closely related to health and performance at workplace. The higher levels  of strength are usually accompanied by less absenteeism, improved job satisfaction and higher productivity at work, while keeping employees free from muscular stiffness and stress. Therefore, building and maintaining optimal muscular fitness should be among the most important targets of any workplace-directed physical activity programs (Figure 18). Specifically, muscular strength and endurance are health-related fitness components that may improve or maintain the following (ACSM, 2017):

  1. Bone mass, which is related to osteoporosis,
  2. Glucose tolerance, which is pertinent in both the prediabetic and diabetic state,
  3. Musculotendinous integrity, which is related to a lower risk of injury (including low back pain),
  4. The ability to carry out the activities of daily living
  5. Better quality of life and self-efficacy among other indicators of mental health, and
  6. The fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate, which are related to better weight management.

 

Any program focused to built muscular fitness at workplace should be undemanding in terms of time, space and exercise requisites, yet enabling appropriate frequency, intensity and duration to stimulate favorable processes in our body. Recommendations supported by leading public health authorities advice that muscle-strengthening activities should be done on 2 or more days a week, involving major muscle groups.

Building strength for health, productivity and satisfaction at work

  1. General recommendations

    The summary of effective program for developing muscular fitness is enlisted below:

  2. Each major muscle group (e.g. trunk, legs, arms) should be exercised on 2-3 days per week
  3. No specific duration of exercise has been identified for effectiveness
  4. Very-light-to-light intensity may be beneficial for improving strength in sedentary individuals
  5. 8-12 repetitions are recommended to improve muscular strength in most adults
  6. 15-20 repetitions are recommended to improve muscular endurance
  7. 2-4 sets are recommended for most adults to improve muscular fitness
  8. Rest intervals of 2-3 min between each set of repetitions are effective
  9. A rest of ≥ 48 h between sessions for any single muscle group is recommended
  10. A gradual progression is recommended

 

The following exercises are enlisted as specific routines that are focused to improve muscular strength and endurance for specific body segments, including trunk, arms and legs. All exercises depicted require no additional equipment or extra room, are appropriate to various work environments and easy to learn and perform at both work and at home.

Breathing

We are often unaware of our breathing. However, a breath or breathing is the basic life process connecting our mind with our body. While exercising, breathing should be as natural as possible, spontaneous and continuous, without holding a breath. It is best to start with a few deep breaths and exhales, and then adjust your breathing to naturally follow the movement of your body while performing exercises at your workplace. While doing the exercises it is necessary to emphasize breathing in and out, with deep inhales and slow releasing exhales. Deep and continuous breathing, can improve the levels of effectiveness of the exercises at the workplace, it also enhances concentration and even reduces the pain in the low- back muscles (Gobbo and co-workers, 2019).

It is recommended that before you begin exercising at the workplace, you take a few moments to breathe deeply in and out in order to prepare the body for the following activity. The same should be applied at the end of the exercising session, in order to relax the whole body and eliminate  possible consequences of the stress.

A general recommendation, while exercising is to inhale through the nose, right before the eccentric (muscle-lengthening) part of the motion. Exhale during the concentric (muscle-shortening) part of the motion completely through your mouth. Take the squat exercise for example: you should inhale just before you begin to lower down, and exhale as you extend your legs back to the starting position. Or the push-ups: inhale, bend your elbows to lower your body down to the ground, and exhale as you rise back up.