We all know how important exercise is, but it can be difficult to find time to get the required amount, especially when you work a sedentary office job. Luckily, there are a number of easy ways to incorporate exercise into the office. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need 30-40 minutes of straight exercise to reap the benefits-even the smallest moments of exercise can add up over the course of a day and make a big difference in your health, your energy level, and your overall sense of well-being.
Park a bit further away
Instead of grabbing that parking spot right next to the building, choose one that is less convenient and get a few moments of brisk walking to start your day.
Avoid the elevator
Whenever possible, take the stairs. If your office is too far up to take the stairs the whole way, go as far as you can before you hop on the elevator. Don’t forget to take the stairs on the way down as well-you will work a whole different set of muscles.
Change your chair
Consider swapping your desk chair for an exercise ball for part of each day. Sitting on a ball requires you to use your core muscles, maintain better posture, and improve your balance. Choose an exercise ball large enough to allow your legs to slope down slightly when seated, make sure your ball is fully inflated, and don’t overdo it-start off with a half-hour and work your way up. For some added exercise, bounce a little while sitting.
Go for a walk
During lunch or other breaks, take a walk outside. If you are lucky enough to have a nice spot within walking distance where you can sit, take your lunch with you and enjoy the sunshine. Even a few laps around the parking lot in the fresh air can give you both exercise and a much needed break from your office. A good lunchtime walk can help you feel fresh and ready to tackle the second half of the day.
Exercise at your desk
There are a number of easy exercises you can do with your legs while sitting at your desk:
* Sit up straight, lift your feet off the floor (either one at a time or both together,) and hold them there for five seconds.
* Suck in your stomach muscles and clench your buttocks, and hold this pose for 5-10 seconds at a time.
* Press your knees together (you can put something between them if you like, like a rolled up scarf,) and hold for 5-10 seconds.
* Use your arms to lift yourself slightly off your chair, and hold for 5-10 seconds.
* If you have a swivel chair, swivel slowly back and forth. Try to engage your stomach and side muscles as much as possible while you move.
* Sit yourself about a foot away from your desk and grab the desk top with both hands. Plant your feet firmly on the floor and sit up straight. Use your arms to pull yourself towards the desk while simultaneously pushing back with your legs. Try grabbing the desk both over and underhanded to work different parts of your arm. This move will work your arms, legs, and stomach.
* If you really want to work those muscles, invest in a small set of hand or ankle weights and add some resistance to your exercises.
Get up from your desk as often as possible
Need some information from a co-worker? Stop by their desk instead of using the phone. Instead of having a large water bottle, use a smaller cup and get up to refill it at the water cooler. Find a reason to get up and walk around a little at least once an hour.
Volunteer to go on errands
Perhaps a file needs to find its way to the upstairs office, someone needs to make a coffee shop run, or the copier needs more paper from the supply room. Instead of waiting for someone else to do things, do them yourself and get the extra exercise, as well as the credit.
Simply standing instead of sitting engages more muscles and burns more calories, so stand up whenever you can. Stand during phone conversations or while talking with coworkers.
Remember, every little bit counts
While it is certainly preferable to get in a certain amount of cardio exercise each week, remember that every time you use your muscles, you are benefiting your body. You are making it stronger, more efficient, and healthier. The more you do, the more you will be able to do: now you may get winded walking up two flights of stairs, but before long you will be able to handle four flights or more with ease. Do what you can as often as possible, and you will be well on your way to being a healthier you.