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Is your IT job making you fat?

May 06, 2014

Summer is fast approaching, and with it comes the swimsuit season. It's a natural time for people to take a look in the mirror and assess the damage done by a long, harsh winter. According to a recent CareerBuilder study, the reflections haven't been all that satisfying—particularly for people in IT careers.

IT workers lead the pack—in gaining weight 
The CareerBuilder report indicated that over half of the U.S. workforce (55 percent, to be exact) believe they're overweight, with 39 percent saying they gained weight over the past year at their current job. Information technology was the top industry for this trend, with 50 percent of IT pros admitting they'd packed on some pounds. Other notable insights included:

  • Managers were more likely to gain weight than lower-level employees.
  • Older workers put on extra pounds more frequently than their younger counterparts.
  • Men were more likely to stay fit than women.
  • The West saw its workforce grow (literally) more so than other regions.

Battle of the bulge 
Long working hours, high levels of stress and the ready availability of some tasty snacks: It's a recipe for disaster, at least for your waistline. Reporting on the survey, CIO Insight noted that many employees don't exercise frequently, if at all. Workers also admitted that they dine out too frequently and find excuses to avoid moving around. For example, they might choose the elevator instead of taking the stairs.

Whether or not you're worried about looking good on the beach, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned with physical fitness. Staying in shape has a number of health benefits, which can also affect your job performance and reduce absenteeism. Your weight could also impact how people perceive and treat you in the workplace, the CareerBuilder study found. Almost 20 percent of employees said they believed people who were thin and fit were shown more favoritism on the job. While this shouldn't be the case, it's certainly something to keep in mind.

What you can do to shed the pounds 
It can be hard to stay in shape when you're also balancing a demanding IT job and trying to keep up with your social life. However, there are a few things you can do:

  • Limit your treat intake. Your coworkers might like sharing their baked goods or making a donut run, but you should use moderation if you've noticed your belt getting a bit tight. It's especially important to use self control when stress levels are high and you're more inclined to reach for a sugary snack or some ice cream.
  • Take breaks and lunches. It's always good to give your brain a little rest from working all day, and you can also use this reprieve as an opportunity to walk around, even for just 10 minutes. You might also consider bringing a healthy lunch instead of eating out or snacking all day.
  • Move around more. UnitedHealthcare suggested small adjustments, such as using the restroom on another floor (and taking the stairs) as well as parking farther away from your office. Some people enjoy sitting on exercise balls instead of chairs to have a little more motion throughout the day.
  • Walk or bike to work. If you live close enough, you can spend your commute burning some calories by walking or biking to work. Participating in Walk to Work days is a good place to start, but you can also take advantage of the improving weather and make it a more regular practice.
  • Follow a 30-minute workout. Even if you're always pressed for time, you can probably make room in your schedule for a half-hour exercise session. For example, The Huffington Post suggested a routine you can follow to get in shape without needing to use up too much of your free time. 
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