Work or Workout? Office Exercise You Can Do
“I simply don’t have enough time to exercise because I work so much.”
“My office doesn’t have a fitness center so I can’t exercise during the day.”
“My family keeps me busy after I get home — there’s just no time to exercise!”
Careers, family responsibilities and an overall feeling that there just isn’t enough time in the day to take care of themselves bogs down many women today. But whether you’re the company president or a hard-working employee, a little creativity and dedication to your health can make it possible to incorporate fitness into busy days with office exercise.
Tips for Office Exercise
- Start strong. Kick-start your day in the parking lot. Wear your tennis shoes (bring dress shoes for later) and walk from the far spot in the garage or lot. During lunch, take a brisk walk outside on a sunny day, or around the building on a rainy day making sure to use the stairs instead of the elevator. Leave time for eating lunch, though!
- Resist. Keep resistance bands or tubes in your desk drawer. Take 2 minutes of every hour of your work day and complete 1 strength training exercise with the resistance band/tube. Anything you can do with free weights, you can do with a resistance band/tube.
- Bicep Curl: If standing, place tube or band securely under your feet while keeping the abdominals tight to protect your back. Keep palms forward and elbows tucked into the side of your rib cage. Curl the tube or band up toward body and slowly release down returning to start position. If seated, sit on the edge of the chair with your back straight or neutral and repeat as if you were in the standing position.
- Chest Press: If seated, sit on edge of chair with your abs pulled in tight and your back in the neutral position. If standing, stagger your stance so one foot is supporting out front and the other is back, with both knees slightly bent and abs pulled in tight. Tie a knot in the tube and place around your body, underneath the armpits. Keep elbows up at chest level with a 90 degree angle in your arm. Holding the handles of the tube or band, press forward, rounding arms together at full extension. Slowly release back in a controlled movement to starting position and repeat.
- Make friends with the walls. These great office exercises need only you and a wall to build fitness into your day.
- Wall Push-Up. Stand with your arms extended out towards the wall, keeping your hands approximately shoulder distance apart. Your feet should be back far enough so that when you bend your elbows to a 90 degree angle, your back remains in neutral alignment and your nose can touch the wall. Press back and you’ve completed one repetition of the wall push-up. To make this a little more challenging, bring your hands closer together to emphasize the work on the triceps (back of the arms).
- Wall Sit/Squat. Stand with your back flat up against the wall while keeping your feet approximately hip distance apart. As if you were going to sit down in a chair, slide down the wall pressing the small of your back into the wall to keep it protected; hold the position. You can rest your hands on your thighs as long as you don’t put any pressure on your thighs as this will take away from the workout. Make sure you do not squat any further than 90 degrees to help prevent any strain or injury to your knees. See how long you can stay in this position. If this seems too difficult, build your strength by holding the position for 3-4 seconds, return to the starting position and repeat 10-15 repetitions.
- Breathe, Stretch, Relax. This will help both your mind and body, especially when you spend most of your day sitting behind a desk and/or typing at a computer.
- Hamstring Stretch. Sit at the edge of your office chair, extending your legs in a “V” position while keeping only your heels on the ground. Hinge forward at the hips while keeping your back in neutral alignment; reach your hands towards your toes. To deepen the stretch, drop your toes to the floor and reach your hands a bit further.
- Neck Stretch. While seated and keeping your back tall, grasp the underside of your office chair with your left hand and pull up, creating resistance without lifting your shoulder. At the same time, gently drop your right ear to your right shoulder, feeling the stretch along the left side of your neck (the sternocledomastoid muscle). Hold the stretch for 8-30 seconds and gently return to starting position. Repeat on opposite side.
As women, we often put ourselves last. But when we make ourselves the priority in regard to our health, we can accomplish our other tasks with greater energy and efficiency. So take mini breaks throughout your work day for a little office exercise to build a stronger, healthier you!