Stiff neck, back and wrist pain, poor circulation – these are just some of the health hazards that can come with having an office job. Sitting for long stretches of time every day, especially at a computer, can take a toll on your body. Add to that poor posture, stress, and a work station that doesn’t work for you, and it’s no wonder you’re feeling aches and pains at the end of the day. Human bodies are made to move. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of times during the day when you can get some exercise while at work. There are simple exercises you can do at work that don’t take much time and also help you stay fit. There are also simple things throughout the day that you can modify so you’re actually getting some exercise while working. So why not de-stress, re-energize, jumpstart your brain, and work the kinks out of your body, each and every day? Here’s some suggestions:
1. Make the most out of your commute. Walk or bike to work. If you take public transportation, get off a few blocks early and walk the rest of the way. If you drive to work, park at the far end of the parking lot so you can walk into and out of the building.
2. Look for opportunities to stand – You’ll burn more calories standing than sitting. Stand while talking on the phone. Eat lunch standing up. Trade instant messaging and phone calls in for walks to other desks or offices.
3. Take fitness breaks
– Strength train. You can easily store water bottles, a resistance band, or small hand weights in your desk or office and do a few sets between meetings or telephone calls.
– Do some quick cardio. Squeeze in a few rounds of jump rope or 10 quick pushups or sit ups. You also can climb stairs during your workday and take brisk walks in or outside your building during lunch. Every little bit helps.
– Lift and rotate. Try some simple leg lifts, even while you’re on the phone or reading emails or memos. Keep one foot planted on the floor and raise the opposite leg several inches off the ground. Gently pulse the leg upward a few inches 10 or 20 times and repeat on the opposite leg. You also can rotate each foot around in small circles (in both directions). Do the same with your arms: hold your arms out straight on each side of your body and make small circles with your hands.
– Breathe and meditate. Close and rest your eyes while breathing deeply, meditating for five minutes or picturing yourself in a favorite place, like the beach or mountains.
– Stretch. Stretching can relieve stress and make you feel better all over. You can stretch right in your desk chair, or close your office door and sit on the floor or use the wall. Why not start by getting out of your chair and touching your toes?
– Yoga. Web sites and books can show you yoga moves and poses to do at your desk or on the floor in your office. Instead of a snack or coffee break, take a yoga break!
4. Trade your office chair in for a fitness ball. A firmly inflated fitness or stability ball can make a good chair. You’ll improve your balance and tone your core muscles while sitting at your desk. You can even use the ball for wall squats or other exercises during the day.
5. Get social. Organize a lunchtime walking group. You might be surrounded by people who are ready to lace up their walking shoes—and hold each other accountable for regular exercise. Enjoy the camaraderie and offer encouragement to one another when the going gets tough.
6. Conduct meetings on the go. When it’s practical, schedule walking meetings or brainstorming sessions. Do laps inside your building or, if the weather cooperates, take your walking meetings outdoors.
7. Pick up the pace. If your job involves walking, do it faster. Keep your chin up and your shoulders slightly back—and remember to breathe freely while you walk.
8. If you travel for work, plan ahead. If you’re stuck in an airport waiting for a plane, grab your bags and take a brisk walk. Choose a hotel that has fitness facilities—such as treadmills, weight machines or a pool—or bring your equipment with you. Jump-ropes and resistance bands are easy to sneak into a suitcase. Of course, you can do jumping jacks, crunches and other simple exercises without any equipment at all.