Full-time workers spend at least 40 hours a week on the job. After a long commute to work and back home, who has time for exercise? The good news is that it is easy to fit exercise in at work, regardless of what you do. Here are 14 ways to get more exercise at work.
1. Start with your commute
The average commuter spends nearly 100 hours a year commuting to work. The majority of commuters travel less than ten miles to work. Easily increase exercise in your workday by walking or biking to work. Not only are you doing something great for your health, but you are also one less frustrated commuter on the road, and one car less pollution in the world.
2. Take phone calls standing up
If most of your day is spent tethered to a phone, use that time as a great way to log some miles on the Fitbit. Wear a path in your office carpet as you stroll while you talk.
3. Take the stairs
Getting more exercise at work may be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
4. Take bathroom breaks on another floor
If possible, increase your stair use by utilizing the restroom on a different floor (or all the way down in the lobby). While this may be an unusual way to add exercise, think of it as something else you are doing for your health.
5. Use the printer that is farthest away from you
If your work uses networked printing, choose the printer farthest from your office. Every time you print you get a chance to stand up and move your body.
6. Hold walking meetings
Meetings may be a necessary evil at your workplace, but they don’t have to do harm to your exercise routine. Walking meetings are excellent especially for one-on-one meetings that are held to generate ideas or discuss options (two things that may not require written notes). Research is beginning to prove the theory that exercise boosts creativity, and walking meetings can help reap that benefit.
7. Do chair yoga
If you must remain seated during the day, or if pain or injury prevents you from too much standing activity, chair yoga is a great way to gradually build strength and endurance. A few simple exercises can get you started. Move on to more advanced, flowing sequences as you gain strength.
8. Use a standing desk
Sitting down is epidemic in U.S. culture, and it is easy to remedy. Standing up on a regular basis (at least ten minutes every hour) is one way to reverse the ill effects of sitting, or you could simply get rid of your chair altogether in favor of a standing desk. While working at a standing desk may be tiring at first, your body will begin to adjust until sitting become the uncomfortable part of the day!
9. Use a treadmill desk
Treadmill desks take standing desks one step further (pun intended!). While they do take some getting used to, treadmill desks allow you to stroll as you work. Speeds are variable, so it may take some adjusting to find the one that allows you to work without worrying about what your legs are doing.
10. Swap your chair for an exercise ball
If possible, swapping your standard office chair for an exercise ball is a nearly effortless way to add exercise to your day. Balancing on an exercise ball requires core engagement and proper posture. These two actions help to strengthen your body while you sit. Bouncing lightly keeps your leg muscles active, too, and you can always use the ball for a quick set of pushups or sit-ups if the impulse strikes.
11. Deliver your message personally
Have a quick memo to email to colleagues in the office? Skip the email. Walk to deliver your message instead. While this may take more time than simply typing out what you want to say, walking through the office gives you a chance to stand up and move around. Figure out the most essential information you need to convey, and deliver your message quickly so as not to disrupt too much (or get sidetracked).
12. Keep free weights handy
Having one or two free weights in your office can help you exercise easily. Plan on a daily number of repetitions, then check them off as you are able to do them. Complete one set of arm curls when you are on the phone, then do the next set before you head out for lunch.
13. Go for a bike ride… without leaving your office
Researchers at the University of Iowa provided workers with portable pedaling devices and found that everyone who used them lost more weight, missed less work due to sick days, and reported better concentration.
The study noted that design of the devices was crucial, as was the privacy of the exercise itself (i.e., a pedaling device hidden under a desk rather than a very visible office exercise space). Portable pedaling devices are a much more affordable, accessible, and sustainable way to get regular exercise at work than a high-end employee gym. You may even be able to cover the cost with a flexible spending account!
14. Split your lunch break in half
Do you normally take an entire hour for lunch, running errands while eating on the go or eating mindlessly while surfing the internet on your phone? Try something new. Start your lunch break by drinking a big glass of water then heading out for a brisk walk (rain or shine). Finish your break in good conversation with your coworkers as you sit down and eat lunch. Turn off your phone, save the errands for later, and really pay attention to your food and your company. Fitness is just as much about the mental and emotional components of health as the physical. This routine at least two or three times a week can boost energy, improve physical fitness, and help you to focus more as you move through your day.
When time for exercise is tight, how do you squeeze it into your day?
Photo by Sebastian Rieger via Flickr