Exercises For The Office
In tough economic times, focusing more energy on your job can be critical to your financial security. But spending more hours at the office can have a negative impact on your energy levels, and your waistline. In fact, obesity in the workplace can often result in poorer health (and more money and time spent on doctor visits) than smoking or problem drinking, according to this (rather depressing) Consumer Affairs report on workplace obesity.
It's easy to feel trapped when you have a desk job. Your phone, your computer, and, if you work in a cubicle setting, the close proximity of colleagues make getting away from the job for a power-walk or a lunchtime sortie to the gym impossible.
However, there are some ways to fend off extra weight (or even build strength!) while in any office setting. Here are some simple exercises you can do at your desk to keep the office blahs (and added office pounds) away.
Have your own office? Try these simple aerobic exercises to keep your heart pumping strong even when you're working late:
Walking lunges are a great way to get in both aerobic and strength-building in one easy series of moves. To perform a walking lunge, take a long step forward and bend (as though you're going into the classic down-on-one-knee-proposal position) but stop your descent just short of hitting the floor. Remain in this position for a second or two, straighten up, then do the same large step-forward-and-knee-bend with the other leg (think Monty Python's Ministry of Funny Walks). But watch your posture! When doing this exercise, be sure to keep your spine straight and perpendicular to the floor, and your bended knee in line with the heel just below it (to avoid pressure on your knee caps).
Have a couple square feet of free space? Bring in a short jump rope. Jumping rope for 10 minutes is fabulous exercise, working your quads and strengthening your knees. Even better: Jumping rope for 15 minutes can burn about 171 calories!
Consider resistance bands. A set of resistance bands can provide a great in-chair or in-office workout. Place the feet of your office chair over the middle of the band and do bicep curls while holding on to the ends, or slip the bands around the soles of your shoes and straighten your legs to do leg presses.
But if you're like many people (me included), you can't exactly jump rope in your cubicle (unless you want to attract a visit from the department manager). Therefore, you need to exercise under the radar. Do you work in a cubicle setting? Try these discreet exercises to get in some fitness without raising eyebrows:
Leg extensions. While sitting in your chair, straighten out your left leg at the knee; raise until your leg is extended straight out. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat by alternating legs.
Desk push-offs. WebMD recommends working your back this way:
To stretch your back and strengthen your biceps, place your hands on the desk and hang on. Slowly push your chair back until your head is between your arms and you're looking at the floor. Then slowly pull yourself back in.
Use an exercise ball instead of your chair. It makes your ab muscles work the whole time you sit on it (these muscles prevent you from losing your balance) and it keeps your posture correct.
Chair-ups (don't do if you have an unstable or rolling chair!): Place your hands on the armrests of your and push you posterior out of the chair. Hold for a few seconds; repeat.
Consider investing in a mini cycle exerciser that fits under your desk. It's like a bike without the seat, the wheels or the handlebars; you can pedal away while doing reports, talking on the phone or reading emails — and since it fits under your desk, who has to know you're getting in fitness time while logging office time?
Have more ideas for office exercises? Post them in the comments!
This post was included in the latest edition of the blog carnival Staying Young - from the Inside Out.