In the hustle and bustle of this thing we call life it can be a bit tricky fitting in everything that is good for you. Busy schedules, caring for others in the household, can all take their toll on your time. Disregarding your own health in sacrifice for others isn’t doing you any favours though. When you neglect to exercise you put both your physical and mental health a risk, which can impact on your productivity and effectiveness at work (not to mention your mood around people you would normally enjoy spending time with).
But what if you can sneak some of that worthwhile exercise into your day without too much fuss?
A simple solution is working physical activity into your everyday routine. Still not convinced? Well research studies have found that people who exercise during the workday are more productive and creative at work even though they technically log few hours.
Office workouts can vary widely in style, intensity and format. It’s important to style a workout that is realistic for you, achievable and enjoyable (otherwise it will be just another thing to tick off your to do list and resent the time you feel is ‘lost’). Here are some ideas to get you started:
10 Ways to Sneak in Exercise at Work (Without Looking Silly)
1) Turn your commute into a workout.
Time spent community is already time you are committed to each and every day. Why not make that time more productive and workout?
If you live fairly close by try speed walking, jogging or cycling instead of driving or taking the bus. Be sure to check beforehand for the safest routes available.
If the distance is too daunting or not viable, try parking some distance away from work or getting off the bus/train a few stops away and walk or jog the rest of the way.
Exercising on your way to and from work is a great motivator to get you fresh for the day ahead or a great stress reliever after a full on day.
2) Work out during lunch.
If working out before or after work isn’t an option for you, lunchtime is your next best bet for fitting a workout into your day. If you are close to a gym you have a lot of workout options such as a class or 30 minutes on the treadmill. If not, you could opt for a 30 minute job or speed walk around the neighbourhood or nearby park. With only a little planning ahead, such as packing a gym bag the night before, it can be easily done. * don’t skip eating though as it is vital your body is refuelled.
Still not convinced? Interviews with top Chief Executive Officers have revealed that they frequently block off 30 to 60 minutes every day for a run, swim, aerobic class or catching up with a friend. By doing this not only is their health benefitted physically, they also find it necessary for boosting their productivity and happiness avoiding that afternoon slump.
3) Replace your desk chair with a stability ball or balance chair.
Stability balls have a lot of positive health benefits. Not only does it help you practice better posture by forcing correct spine alignment, it also strengthens your abdominal muscles.
Replacing your chair with one of these balls helps to correct your posture because your body will constantly try to balance itself, in a seated position with a proper spine alignment, therefore reducing backache, fatigue and boosting concentration.
Still not convinced? Sitting on a stability ball engages your abdominal muscles to keep you balanced and stop you rolling off onto the floor. Thus giving you a low intensity workout all day long, those hours add up!
4) Take short “active breaks” during the workday.
On super busy days you can still workout in short breaks by stretching your legs and walking around. The most simplistic method of exercise is making movement a natural part of your day.
Take a short break by walking to get a drink for the team and delivering them to everyone’s desk; walking to the toilet furthest from your desk rather than the closest. Your brain is a muscle too, after continuous use it needs a rest. So when you reach a breaking point, make it a habit to move such as a walk around the building using the stairs. Breaks such as these have a long-term and short-term benefit to your mood, for example a published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that people who take walking breaks during work feel more enthusiastic, less tense, and generally more relaxed and able to cope than when they don’t take walk breaks.
5) Pace while you’re on the phone/presenting
It is highly likely you spent the majority of your day sitting down. Unless you need to be on your computer at the same time you could take the advantage of the opportunity to stand up and move around your work station while you are on a call or while you are giving a presentation – it keeps your audience engaged as you are actively moving around. These extra steps count! Pacing gives your body a welcome break for your back and muscles.
6) Speed walk your errands.
Have a think about the every day errands you run, how could you turn those into an exercise routine? Perhaps try to speed walk them. This is a simple way of incorporating movement as a natural part of your day. Are you a keen gardener? Remember that our bodies are designed to lift and carry things, putting a little extra effort into digging, lifting and carrying things a little heavier than you are used to can reap rewards, but be careful not to strain, overload or tense when you lift something you’re not used to.
7) Go the long way.
When you have a few moments to spare, go the long way around. This could mean taking the stairs instead of the lift, parking on the other side of the building, going to the toilet further away etc. Perhaps you don’t need to send an email to Jane in finance and instead take the trip to her desk instead.
Studies show that regular low intensity exercise (for example, walking) can help boost energy, especially for those suffering with fatigue. A pedometer to keep track of your steps over the course of the day is a great motivator to keep logging more and more steps.
8) Start or join a sports or fitness club at work.
When it comes to exercising, sometimes one really is the loneliest number. Exercising with a group or friends not only motivates you to go in the first place but it also encourages you to keep going. Why not ask your colleagues if they want to workout with you and start some kind of group?
Broadland already has the Fit 4 Work initiatives outside of work, not to mention the summer bootcamp and trips to the park to play rounders. You could take this further by forming a regular walking group, a running club, a 30 day challenge club that meets before or after work each day to complete a set fitness challenge.
If you’re not sure what your colleagues are in to, we will be happy to post a poll or survey to Members in your workplace. Ask them whether they would join a fitness club, what kind of sports or activities they are interested in and when they are mostly likely to be available.
9) Stretch at regular intervals.
During the course of the day your body is prone to stiffening up and there are subtle ways to have a stretch at your desk either sitting down or standing that can help alleviate those sore muscles and boost your energy levels.
Using the 60-20 rule (every 60 minutes stop for 20 seconds to stretch) to try some torso twists in your chair, leg extensions, shrugging to release tension, neck stretching (ear to shoulder) and circling your wrists and ankles in the air.
10) Do (subtle) workouts at your desk.
Ok so if you thought stretching at your desk was awkward what would desk workouts look like? Well research has proven that even one minute bursts of activity throughout the day can be beneficial. Here are some suggestions from Essentials Magazine fitness blogger:
- 20 chair squats (standing and sitting without using your hands) repeat two times
- Flex and tighten your stomach for 30 seconds. Release and repeat in sets of 10
- Squeeze your bottom for 30 seconds, release and repeat in sets of 10
- Place a cushion between your thighs and gripping bring your knees to your chest 10 times
- 10 Calf raises each leg
Remember, physical activity doesn’t have to be formal defined exercise to have a benefit; even unconscious fidgeting is good for your muscles and can burn some calories. Plus, you may find that the movement helps keep you alert.
How do you sneak in exercise at work? Share with us in the comments.