by Girl Banker
Sitting on your butt the whole day.
I thought to write about this after reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.
I was the type of girl who found every excuse not to go to PE (physical education) in high school. By the time I got to A-level, I had convinced the school's director of studies that as I was reading four A-levels rather than the standard three, I should be permitted to attend PE only when my schedule allowed. He agreed. I was never seen on the sports field again.
I really underrated the value of moving about. That said, even when I studied, I wasn't sat still for more than an hour or two at a time. After that, I would go to find my friends and we would hang out and have a laugh. I was slim and sexy; 'why would you want to run and sweat when you're body's already got it going on?', I thought.
I only started to appreciate the need for exercise when I came to cold wet England. For the first time, the weather was so poor that going out for a walk did not appeal in any way, shape or form. And the food? God knows what they put in it because whereas I ate to my heart's content and didn't gain weight in Malawi, just looking at English food added an inch to my waist.
Then came the banking years. Now it got really bad. I was not only gaining weight but my back was having aches and pains that it had hitherto not encountered. Sitting at your desk is painful. By year five of banking, I couldn't sit at my desk for more than twenty minutes without having to stand up to give my back a rest. Yes, standing was resting and sitting culminated in a sore back.
When I was deciding to go into banking, I didn't pay any consideration to the health impacts at all.
Don't want to go into banking anymore?
Hold on, this problem is not unique to banking. All sedentary jobs will have the same impact on you. Lucky are those that get to move about a lot as part of their occupation: doctors especially. People were designed to run. As hunter-gatherers all men and women were running all the time.
"Human bodies are designed for performance and the human brain for efficiency" (Born to Run). The brain is always searching for ways to conserve energy and in our days as hunter-gatherers it was mostly correct: if you saw an opportunity to sit down you took it because there was no telling when you would get to sit down again.
However, now, whilst your body might say run, you brain still says sit, conserve your energy for when you need to run. The result? The brain seems to be winning and we're literally sitting (and eating) ourselves to death. Half of today's diseases - obesity, high BP, various cancers - were unheard of in the hunter-gatherer days.
As you devise your strategy for getting into banking devise your physical regimen too. Change your diet, perhaps. Cut out processed foods and make a dedicated commitment to visiting a gym: your health and longevity depend on it.
How can you be more active at your desk?
1. Stand when you are on the phone
2. Keep weights at your desk and use them when you're on the phone
3. Sit on a balancing ball, it forces you to workout your core
4. Walk up the stairs or the escalator
5. Stretch whenever you feel stiff. I did this a lot.
6. Walk to people instead of emailing them. You might save time too. It' crazy how I used to email people who were sat two rows away just because I couldn't be bothered to walk over.
7. Request a stand-up desk or an ergonomic chair. Stand up desks are very expensive but I have seen people be allowed them due to unique circumstances. The desk has a button that allows you to lift the whole thing up, computer and all so you can work on two feet. Stand up desk are the future, I truly think they'll will help with health issues.
8. Track your weight using the Fat Creep™ app on iPhone or Android to ensure your weight stays within a desirable range. It's designed by yours truly.
Read my brief review of Born to Run here.
I created my investment banking blog in 2012 as soon as I resigned from i-banking & published my book, To Become An Investment Banker.
Heather Katsonga-Woodward: On Business, Life & Everything In-Between