In a perfect world, everyone would prioritize exercise and make sure they’re getting the minimum recommended amount per day. That’s much easier said than done, though.
Busy schedules get in the way, and, by the time you get home from work, you probably just want to relax for a couple hours before going to bed.
If you’ve got a full work schedule but still want to fit in workouts, you might need to find ways to make your job more active. Give these five tips a try to start exercising while you’re at work.
1. Upgrade Your Commute
The average American spends just under thirty minutes commuting to and from work each day. What if you made that time more productive by walking or riding your bike to the office instead of driving or taking the bus?
You might not even need to walk or cycle the whole way — simply get off the bus a few blocks earlier than you normally would.
If this isn’t an option and you do need to drive to work, park as far away from your office as you can. That way, you’ll sneak a few more steps in first thing in the morning.
When you do make it to the office, make sure you also take the stairs instead of the elevator.
2. Work While Standing or Walking
Research shows that sedentary behavior (like sitting all day at work, then going home and sitting on the couch to watch TV) can increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
If you have a desk job, you may want to invest in a standing desk or treadmill desk to decrease your of these conditions. These desks can be expensive, but they’re also great options to get you on your feet and moving throughout the day.
You don’t need to use these tools all day, every day. If you’re brand new to standing or walking while working, it can be a pretty intense change. Try just standing or walking for a couple hours a day, maybe while you answer emails or talk on the phone.
Even if you can’t have a standing or treadmill desk, you can still find excuses to walk while you work. Get up and talk to a coworker in person rather than sending an email. Or, make your own copies and do your own errands rather than having your assistant handle them.
3. Sit on an Exercise Ball
If standing or walking while working isn’t realistic for you, it’s a good idea to at least upgrade your office chair.
Sitting on an exercise ball is an easy (and affordable) way for office workers who don’t have time to exercise to sneak in a core workout.
You can also use the exercise ball to do wall squats, hamstring curls, and other exercises throughout the day when you have a few spare minutes.
4. Utilize Your Lunch Hour
Sometimes, your lunch hour is the only time you’ll have to fit exercise in. If you work near a gym, try to sneak over there during your break. You can also go to a nearby park and walk/jog and do bodyweight exercises.
Look for ways to get other co-workers involved, too. Research shows that people who start weight loss or fitness programs with friends are more likely to finish the program than those who do it alone.
Set up a lunchtime walking/workout group so you can catch up with your colleagues while you get your heart pumping.
5. Do Desk Exercises
Have you ever come home stiff and sore after being hunched over the computer all day? Desk stretches and other simple exercises could be the perfect remedy, especially when they’re combined with more walking.
Some simple desk exercises and stretches to do throughout the day include:
- Neck rolls
- Shoulder rolls/shrugs
- Tricep dips
- Leg extensions
- Chest openers (clasp your hands behind your back)
- Knee hugs
- Ankle rolls
- Side stretches
Most of these moves can be done while you’re sitting at your desk, and they’re quite subtle. This makes them the perfect option for people who work in an open office environment and don’t want to draw a lot of attention to themselves.
It’s not always easy to make health and fitness a priority. But, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Keep these five simple tips in mind and you’ll have no trouble squeezing in some exercise during your workday.
Melissa Bell has a strong background in nutrition education, fitness and yoga, and experience working on specialized stretching, bodybuilding and weight loss programs. She is actively studying Japanese, doing research and travelling for conferences while taking care of two children.