Are you on your feet eight hours a day at work and wonder if this can replace aerobic or resistance exercise?
Do you feel “exhausted” after your shift and wonder if this means your heart gets a good workout at the workplace?
Let’s put it this way: Look at the physiques of people who are on their feet at their job nearly constantly eight hours a day. Do they look any fitter than people who work desk jobs?
And just because a person issn’t overweight doesn’t mean they look fit. Sure, they look a LOT fitter than their obese version, but I’m talking about looking physically fit in the absolute sense, not in a comparative sense.
Are they toned? Do they have sturdy looking posture? Do they walk with stamina rather than fatigue?
Walking around on your feet all day on the job is no replacement for actual cardio or weight-bearing workouts.
• Though walking on the job certainly beats sitting at a desk for eight hours, this does not translate to being good enough to replace strength training and aerobic routines.
• If you’re a nurse or CNA for instance, the dominant side of your body gets the brunt of the work, causing imbalances in the activation of muscles, not to mention non-neutral spinal alignment.
This imbalanced nature of your workplace movement needs to be considered, not just whether or not it gives your body systems an efficient workout.
• Physical work on the job is often stressful psychologically. There is nothing relaxing or purging about it, as would be the case with a group fitness class or an attack on a set of dumbbells.
• Hours of walking at “job site pace” are never a substitute for structured aerobics such as a spin class, jog on a treadmill, walking on an inclined treadmill (hands off the machine), a hike or parking lot sprints.
• Walking a lot on the job does not have a progressive component; you never get better than what your body needs to accomplish for mere footfalls over an eight hour shift.
• In other words, the hallways or floors do not grow inclines. The walking pace does not get faster, let alone transition into a jog.
• Kudos if you make a point of briskly walking any corridor or dashing up staircases instead of taking the elevators.
But these actions do have limits; the corridor never inclines or lengthens; your body becomes very adapted to fast but short walks down hallways.
But keep dashing up the staircase instead of using an elevator. This counts towards heart health, but needs to be supplemented with traditional cardio when you’re off work.
What about restaurant servers?
There is a fixed baseline of activity, in that the walking never gets faster; it’s not nonstop for long; and the trays never get heavier.
Certainly, there are servers, warehouse workers, roofers, handyman specialists, nurses and CNAs who also just happen to be devoted to structured strength training and aerobics workouts—and thus have a high level of fitness.
But their high fitness level is due to the methodical workouts outside of the workplace.
Though being on your feet eight hours a day will often cause aching feet at the end of the shift, this doesn’t mean your heart got a good workout.
It usually means you need more supportive footwear.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer for Bally Total Fitness.