You may love your job and enjoy seeing the results of your hard work, but achieving them could also mean spending hours on your desk and staring into a computer screen – something that you cannot really avoid in a nine-to-five job. However, the effects of a sedentary lifestyle are alarming, and can take a toll on your health and fitness.
If you are unable to squeeze out a dedicated time for exercise during the week, exercising at work may be your option. Staying physically active will not only energise you, it will improve focus and productivity too. All you need are few minutes during the course of your workday, and if performed regularly, you will notice a difference in your health.
Let’s take a look at 10 ways to include exercise into your workday:
1. Include walking in your commute plan
Begin by including walking into your routine, and it could start with your commute. Walk to your office if you live nearby or get off the public transport a few stops earlier than your office stop. If you drive to work, park your vehicle in the parking lot far away from the office building. Opt for the stairs instead of the elevator – climbing stairs is one of the most accessible and effective exercises for office-goers that not only burns calories but also gets your heart beating faster, boosting blood circulation.
2. Keep moving during the day
‘Stand rather than sit and walk rather than stand’ could be your office fitness mantra. Standing and walking burn more calories than sitting, and you can include it in normal activities around the office, like standing while talking on the phone, skipping that email or message and walking up to your colleague to discuss an issue, or walking to the water station for refills. This will ensure continuous blood circulation in your arms and legs.
3. Include simple stretching exercises in your schedule
You can perform simple stretches while sitting at your desk to prevent your body from feeling stiff.
- Neck – Flex your neck slowly forward and backward and side-to-side. Avoid rolling the head around your neck as it could damage neck joints. This stretch can lessen strain and tension at any time of the day.
- Arms and shoulders – Roll your shoulders forward and backward equal number of times to ease tension. Brace your hands on the edge of the desk keeping them at shoulders’ width apart; twist the hands till they face outwards and lean forward while hunching the shoulders.
- Wrists – Rolling the wrists minimises the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome in those who spend a lot of time typing.
- Ankles and calves – Like the wrists, the ankles can also be rotated clockwise and counter clockwise to improve circulation and avoid the ‘pins and needles’ feeling. For calves, rest your legs on the balls of the feet and point them forward to give a good stretch to the calves.
- Chest – Open your arms and rotate the wrists externally as you pull your shoulders back. This gives a good stretch to the upper chest.
- Abdomen – Contract and release the abdominal and gluteal muscles alternatively. Pelvic flow exercises or the Kegels exercises can also be performed while sitting.
- Keep simple fitness tools with you at work
You can also exercise using simple equipment that you can keep at your work desk or space:
- Hand gripper – When you are reading some document on screen or paper, you would not require your hands as much. Use this opportunity to squeeze a small hand gripper to give the forearm a little workout.
- Elastic band – While you stretch your arms, how about using an inexpensive, light band that works the arms muscles lightly.
- Stability ball – While talking on the phone or when not actively typing on the computer screen, sit on a fitness ball with your back straight and abs firm. You may add a little bouncing or basic toning exercises to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis.
- Squash ball – A squash ball can be used to relax the forearm muscles that get tensed doing computer-related work.
4. Give your eyes a break
Shift focus from your computer screen every 30 minutes and scan other objects in the room. This gives your eye movement and breaks the continuous focus you need to apply when looking into a screen. It also reduces the risk of eye irritation and headaches.
5. Exercises while standing
- Office chair squat – Stand as tall as you can, keeping your shoulders relaxed. Lift your toes up, and keeping the back straight, lower your hips till you reach one inch from your desk chair. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat.
- Desk push up – Stand in front of the desk and place hands on the desk’s edge. Keeping shoulder width apart and legs behind push as much as you can. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat.
- Victory pose – Sweep arms above the head and down again as you step side-to-side.
6. Carry your exercise plans on work travel
You shouldn’t lag behind in fitness just because your work involves a lot of travel. Make use of the hotel fitness facilities like treadmill, weights and pool to get a quick workout. You can even carry small fitness equipment like an elastic band in your suitcase.
7. Use your lunch hour for more
Rather than a leisurely lunch or a lunch at desk while you continue to work, squeeze in a quick walk around the office building or a short gym session if your office has one.
8. Meet on-the-go
When practical, schedule walking meetings or brainstorming sessions, either inside the office or around the office complex.
9. Invest in a exercise desk
If you are serious about committing to fitness while at work and are ready to take it to the next level, you can look at options for a specialised exercise desk that allows you to stand or walk while you work.
10. Lastly, don’t let the fear of embarrassing yourself prevent you from staying healthy and exercising at work.
You might serve as an inspiration to other co-workers and even get them to join you in a walk around the office complex or a lunch-hour gym session!
“A workout at work?” Washingtonpost.com, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/health/workout-at-work/
“Exercise at Your Desk,” WebMD.com, http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/exercise-at-your-desk?page=3
“Office exercise: Add more activity to your workday,”MayoClinic.com, Mayo Clinic Staff, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/in-depth/office-exercise/art-20047394?pg=1
“5 exercises you can do while at work,” TimesofIndia.com, Debarati S Sen, Feb 8, 2014, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/fitness/5-exercises-you-can-do-while-at-work/articleshow/18045572.cms
Image courtesy of [iosphere] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net