Tips For Working Out While At Work
by Virginia Cunningham
We’re constantly being reminded about the importance of staying active for our health, and how having a sedentary desk job can lead to shorter life spans. Short of quitting our day jobs to become a personal trainer or fitness instructor, what can 9-to-5 office workers sitting in front of a computer do to add more activity into their day?
Working out at work can be tricky, as not all offices are equipped with barbells, treadmills and showers; however, you can find other ways to sneak in more movement during the day.
Here are a few tips to get active at work without eliciting the stares of your office mates or rendering yourself too sweaty to sit in on a meeting.
Take a Walk
During your lunch, coffee or cigarette breaks, take a brisk walk around the block or neighborhood instead of parking in the office lounge with your co-worker’s latest baked contribution.
Not only will this help you avoid consuming unnecessary extra calories (it can be hard to resist brownies and cookies when they’re sitting within arm’s reach), but you will also get in some heart-healthy exercise.
Research has found that several short bursts of exercise can sometimes confer more health benefits than one prolonged session. Do three 10-minute walks during your workday and you’ll have completed 30 minutes of low-impact cardio.
Be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes to swap into if your office uniform does not consist of exercise-friendly footwear.
Opt for the Stairs Instead of the Elevator.
An easy swap to sneak in a little more exercise, a few flights of stairs will quickly get your heart pumping. Rather than waiting for the elevator to take you up to your office, choose the stairs instead. If you only have a few floors to go up, you can even try sprinting the stairs for a burst of high-intensity training; however, to avoid showing up sweaty and disheveled, walk the stairs if you have many floors to climb.
For more of a glute workout, make sure you push off with your heel when you take a step. If you want to focus on your calves, put all your energy into your toes like a sprinter would run.
Instead of slouching in your uncomfortable office chair, try improving your posture and balance, and strengthen core muscles by sitting on an inflated fitness ball.
You can even use the fitness ball for other exercises—crunches, push-ups, wall squats—throughout the day.
Stand More Often
The simple act of standing burns more calories than sitting. Try standing while on the phone, waiting for the printer or while conferring with a coworker about the latest data.
Rather than calling a co-worker or instant messaging them, walk over to their desk. If your office allows it, try using a standing desk. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes—standing in high heels for prolonged periods of time can be detrimental to your health, despite burning more calories.
Do a Few Strength-training Exercises at Your Desk
- Squats: Do regular or one-legged squats at your desk while waiting for a conference call, for the reports to print or while on a break.
- Hamstring curls: While you’re standing, keep one leg straight (with a soft bend in the knee), and bend the knee of the other leg so that you’re practically kicking your butt with your foot. Repeat for 10-12 reps; switch legs.
- Incline push-ups: Using the wall or the edge of your desk, try to do two sets of 10-15 push-ups.
- Dips: To work your chest, shoulders and arms, try doing dips on the edge of your desk or chair (for an extra challenge, try it on a fitness ball). Place both hands on the surface, turned towards the edge, and bend at the elbows, so that they point straight back. Do two sets of 10-15 reps.
By using normal office equipment and your own body weight, you can easily sneak in a little exercise during your workday. These little moments of activity add up over time and can improve your overall health and well-being. Try these exercises today to reap the benefits of working out while on the job.
(Virginia Cunningham is a health writer for Soothing Walls and a business owner in Southern California. As a mother of three and with a full-time job, it can be difficult to find time for exercise during the day, so she follows these tips to stay in shape while on the job.)