(This is cross-posted at BlogHer.)
Like many people, I have a desk job. Except for a few months at a fast food restaurant when I was 16, and a year working as a hostess at The Olive Garden (both of these positions required me to stand for long periods of time), I’ve had a desk job since I was 18. For the most part, this has worked in my favor.
These jobs have provided me with healthcare benefits, retirement accounts, and comfortable salaries, in addition to teaching me many things I didn’t know. I’ve met friends who have lasted for years and continue to be instrumental in my life, long after I left that workplace for something new. I guess it’s fair to say my desk jobs over the past 11 years have contributed to the person I am today.
Not only that, desk jobs are pretty much the opposite of strenuous (unless you’re looking at it in terms of mental fitness, or stress levels, or how fast you can type). And, you know, this is often okay with me. It’s nice to know that no matter how I’m feeling on a given day — barring some sort of ailment, discomfort, or injury — I can go to work and do what I need to do. I often send up a silent thanks that I’m lucky enough to work in a temperature-controlled environment, especially when it’s super cold outside, or on those miserable, oh-so-humid summer days.
The downsides? Oh, there are many of those, too. You have a valid excuse to be sedentary for most of the day. Feeling like you’re stuck indoors on those beautiful days when you just want to romp around and soak in the sunlight (totally distracting). Not to mention, spending eight hours on a computer can make people feel like they haven’t accomplished very much at the end of the day. Even if you’ve fulfilled everything that was expected of you, technically your results are located on a hard drive somewhere.
That’s why I have a lot of respect for people who do physical jobs for a living. They have to get out there and do their job regardless of whether they feel like it or not. When I get to work, I sit down in my chair and drink a cup of coffee. When those people get to work, they…well, they do actual (physical) work.
When I think about physical jobs, I’m not just thinking about people in the fitness industry, like personal trainers and group fitness instructors. Look at workers who clean hotel rooms; daycare teachers who run after kids all day long; nurses; professional landscapers. These people are active because they have to be. Sure, some people are more hardworking than others, and some people get the job done faster and better in a shorter period of time. But in general, those people work physically harder than I do during the day. They put my small efforts — taking a stroll down the hall to talk to co-workers, purposefully printing to a faraway printer — to shame.
Sometimes I get those feelings like, “I’m not doing enough,” and “I’m tired of sitting here,” and I wonder if I couldn’t be doing something more action-oriented and physical. But on the other hand, I feel like I shouldn’t complain — there are probably a lot of people who have to stand on their feet all day who wouldn’t mind sitting behind a desk like I do. So, at least for the time being, I’ll sit during the day and continue to try to move around as much as I can.
What are the pros and cons of a fitness-related career?