How To Exercise At The Office

If only sitting in my desk chair could get me that Beyonc? booty.

Getting a daily workout in can be a struggle when you have a full-time job (as I’m quickly learning) plus a three hour commute on top of that nine-to-five. Making that workout a productive one can seriously add to that stress. Juggling a new and exciting schedule, a social life, and getting just the right amount of “me” time in (all while somehow managing to nourish my busy body) is slowly becoming a daily struggle.

Personally, I love a routine when it comes to my work week. I love knowing my morning starts at 6:30AM and I’ll be home by 8:00PM. I get to enjoy my now free weekends with friends and still have time for some good old fashioned R&R (but not without a bowl of popcorn, a piping hot cup of tea, and Bruce Willis). But sometimes I’m too tired by the time I get home or I don’t have the time to begin with. Either way, if your schedule’s anything like mine, it’s possible you’ve had a similar inner conversation with yourself to this one:

  1. Will I get up really early and workout in the morning?
  2. Can I squeeze the gym in at lunch if I run there?
  3. Wait, is there even a gym nearby?
  4. Maybe I could go after work…but then it will be on an empty stomach.
  5. Or, I could go home after work, eat, and then go to the gym?
  6. Maybe it’s best to figure out my schedule tonight, and start fresh tomorrow morning.

Having this back-and-forth every day, writing to-do lists and putting a large, red star by the things I absolutely need to do can get monotonous, especially when the easy solution is to just do what I’ve set out to do. But after a month of this routine, effective or not, working out on the weekend just isn’t enough. So while I attempt to go during the wee hours of dusk or dawn, I have decided to use my day at work as eight hours full of exercise opportunities. And so should you.

Interesting tidbit of information: according to an article on ABC News, a 2013 interactive survey was conducted of more than 3,000 workers where “41% of respondents said they’d gained weight in their current jobs. Workers who spend long hours sitting at a desk (like administrative assistants) and have high stress levels (like engineers and teachers) were more likely to have gained weight.” Do you want to be part of this statistic? I certainly don’t.

So while you may not be able to get the complete gym experience during your week, try incorporating some movement into your days at the office. Just because you sit at a desk all day doesn’t mean you don’t have plenty of opportunities to get active. If there’s a will there’s a way, and by God there is a way!

Change up your commute.

If the location of your job in relation to home requires you to commute (like most of us), plan your travel route so it requires you to take the long way to work. The exception to this rule? If you’re commuting during the Siberian Vortex, then we say taking the short and warm route is the smart choice.

Start your day off right, one step at a time.

This is the most suggested, most effective, and easiest exercise recommended for getting activity at the office: take the stairs instead of the elevator. Don’t injure yourself (I’m on the sixteenth floor, so I’ll walk half) and only climb what you can handle. Helpful (and obvious) hint: if you decide to climb those stairs in the morning, wear your walking shoes and not the cute heels you paired with your outfit.

No standing desk? No problem.

A lot of companies have introduced stand up desks to the workplace that allow employees to get out of their chair (probably with poor lumbar support) and off their butt while still able to do their work. A colleague of mine showed me an article on Self that recommended some great iPhone apps that helps you get up and incorporate a little more movement into your day. Unless your company is one of the few who provide such a luxurious work space, you’re probably used to the standard cubicle desk space and a frustrating case of RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome, for those who don’t know), so why not give these apps a try?

Stretch it out.

Sitting in a desk chair for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week can really do a number on your body. From a numb tush to slouched shoulders to those aches in your neck, the day can go by a lot slower when you’re working while in pain. Sometimes all you need to do is take a minute or two and stretch it out. It’s that simple. Doing the wrong stretch with incorrect form can actually make matters worse, so what you need is an “Ultimate ‘Deskercise’ Routine” as beautifully demonstrated by the people of Healthline. With simple and time-effective stretches, they show you how to release the tension in those nine-to-five problem areas.

Cut off those inter-office e-mails.

If you’re sending an e-mail to a coworker that doesn’t require cc’ing the remained of your coworkers, get out of your chair and walk to their desk. It feels good to stretch the limbs and it is always better to have the face-to-face contact, especially if there are questions you need direct answers to. If you are sending an e-mail to the entire office, however, I guess you can’t go to everyone’s desk and tell them. It may be thorough, but it sure is exhausting.

Need more caffeine?

Instead of going to the office kitchen and making a cup of joe (or green tea for the conscious), leave the office and get some fresh air?that is, if time permits. Take a few minutes and walk to your local coffee shop or to the Starbucks a few blocks away. Getting outside and going for a quick jaunt (especially in the cold) will not only give you a much needed break from staring at your computer screen in a harshly lit cubicle, but it will give you that second wind (and wake up call) you’ve been needing since lunch.

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