If you’ve worked at an office for any given amount of time, you’ve likely noticed the negative effect it can have on your health. Office spaces require little movement, which can result in fast, unexpected weight gain.
Office jobs can also strain your joints, eyes, and neck, and deteriorate any muscle tissue you may have built up at the gym. In addition to all of this, a survey conducted by Yale University shows that nearly one-third of office workers report feeling “quite a bit or extremely stressed at work,” which can worsen physical conditions and contribute to weight gain and a lack of energy.
But you love your job too much to consider a career change just to avoid stress or long periods of sitting. In that case, it’s easier to make a few lifestyle changes and find opportunities for exercise. To help you out in your quest, here are five ideas on how to sneak office exercises into your daily routine so that you can stay toned without taking time out of your busy schedule.
Each of these are designed to be discreet and easily managed so that it doesn’t add more undue stress to your plate, or attract odd stares from your co-workers.
1. Warm Up Desk Stretches
As with any workout, the first thing you should do before performing any of these office exercises is to stretch. Some common stretches can go by unnoticed in the office, but this one is particularly beneficial for desk workers who experience a lot of lower back pain due to slouching and other forms of poor posture. To begin, either sit or stand while facing your desk. Then, place your hands palms-down on your lower back with the fingers pointed down. Lean back, while pushing your breastbone towards the ceiling and keeping your elbows straight back. Hold this pose for 15 seconds before relaxing. For the best results, repeat it twice. This will relieve any tension you may feel in your lower back and also prepare you for the exercises that follow. You can even use it as a warm down.
2. Desk Pushups
Desk pushups are far less discreet than desk stretches, so make sure you’re comfortable with your co-workers before performing these. To start, stand at the edge of your desk with your feet shoulder-width apart and your legs out behind you. Then, place your hands on your desk—also at shoulder width—and slowly lower yourself toward the desk. Afterward, push off with as much force as you can. Just like regular pushups, try for as many as you can, building strength throughout the week. Women performing this exercise might want to take off their heels.
3. Leg Toning at the Copy Machine
This is a great one for receptionists or anyone else whose job involves a lot of time spent at the copy machine. Instead of making those minutes unproductive while you wait for the machine to spew out your documents, try some leg toning and strengthening by performing this exercise. To start, lift your right leg to the back, keeping it straight, Lower it, and then change side. Once you’re back in the original position, bend your right knee and swing it back and forth for 30 seconds. Repeat this exercise with your left leg. These simple stretches and exercises will stretch your hamstrings and calves. For the best results, perform this routine 10 times.
4. Chair Dips
While you’re sitting down, you can use your chair to get in some strength training. Because this exercise can be conspicuous and even make you sweaty, you may want to perform these if you have the comfort of your own cubicle or if your office mate is gone for the day. To start, position yourself in front of your chair and grip the sides of the seat behind you. Then, lift yourself down and back up. This exercise can strengthen both your core and your triceps—just make sure that you’re careful if your chair has wheels. If you’re concerned about being discreet, you can simply sit yourself back down in your chair at a moment’s notice.
5. Water Bottle Lifts and Twists
Bringing weights into the office can be conspicuous, but nearly everyone has a water bottle sitting at their desks. Your water bottle can be a great substitute for a light weight, which you can use to strengthen your arms with bicep curls. The great part is that if anyone walks in, you can simply take a sip of water. To start, sit tall with your spine erect and your abs pulled in. Hold the water bottle in your right hand it curl it up towards your shoulder. Repeat 15 times with each arm. If you’re more concerned about your waist, you can try doing some “water bottle twists.” To perform these, stand up and hold your water bottle at chest level. Then, twist to the right as far as you can before twisting back to the center, and finally to the left. Repeat this exercise 10 times. Water bottle workouts are best done while reading email or performing other tasks that don’t require the use of your hands.
Other Ideas for Fitness at Work
Of course, these aren’t the only office exercises out there, and they certainly aren’t the only ways to make healthier choices in the workplace. You can start to walk or ride a bike to work, for example, if your commute permits it.
You can stand instead of sit whenever possible, or even substitute your office chair for a fitness ball for an all-day core workout. Instead of taking coffee breaks, try taking a fitness break and taking a brisk walk around the block. Take the stairs back to your office instead of the elevator.
All of these lifestyle changes are simple ones that can be managed without too much heartache. If you feel you need an extra boost, you can look into a diet pill by browsing hundreds of reviews at FatBurner.net. In the end, however, your own willpower will be the greatest determining factor in improving your fitness level.
Alexandra Sandvik, a nutrition junkie who loves staying up to date on the latest diet, super food, supplement and workout. And with a BA in English from Brigham Young University, I can’t help but want to write about my passions.