02 January 2014
The Workplace Workout: Staying Fit On The Job

The human body wasn’t made to sit at a desk eight hours a day. The body is built to move, but many of us are just too busy to make it to the gym a few times a week.

However, it’s possible to get a workout each day on the job. Multi-task. Move the report along, but move your muscles and joints once in a while, too. You’ll feel better, and chances are, that report will be better as well. A workplace workout gets you in the groove to get the job done right.  Of course, you should check with your doctor to make sure your health is good enough to undertake a daily workplace workout.

Even though you’re at your desk most of the day, here are some simple exercises and activities you can do while on the job.

1. Park far from your workplace entrance. Before you even start your work day, add a little workout. Walk briskly to the entrance, elevate your heart and breathing rate slightly. Get blood flowing so you’ll be better prepared for your day.

2. Skip the elevator. This advice is an oldie but a goodie, and something to work into your daily work schedule. Don’t take the elevator or escalator to your work place.

If security is good, take the stairs. As you become more fit, take the stairs two at a time to increase your aerobic workout. Try to take the stairs five to seven times throughout the day. You won’t wear yourself out, but you will increase your physical fitness.

3. Close the office door, or find a private space to run in place for 60 seconds a few times a day. If you’re just starting a fitness routine, don’t overdo it. Quick-step march for 60 seconds until you can work your way up to running in place.

You can also do jumping jacks, leg lifts and other exercises in a private conference room each day. A short burst of exercise will energize your body and mind.

And you’ll probably feel better all day long.

4. Desk leg lifts. While sitting at your desk, lift one leg, hold it straight out for two seconds, then slowly lower it to just above the floor. Hold for another two seconds, then lower your leg to the floor.

Do the other leg the same way. Repeat throughout the day to build muscle strength while you work.

5. Desk stretches. Sit up straight in a sturdy chair, extend your spine, then raise both arms and stretch toward the ceiling.

Roll your head in a circular motion to loosen up your muscles – especially important if you work at a computer all day. Lower one shoulder, then the other. Stretch from your waist to your finger tips, but don’t overdo it. Stretch just enough to feel a little pull. Then gradually increase the time and length of your desk stretches.

6. Stand, don’t sit. Walk, don’t stand. Stand at your desk when you can. Instead of standing still, walk. Take a quick walk during your lunch break. Don’t email a co-worker across the hall – walk over and deliver the information. Take every opportunity throughout the day to move your body away from your desk for some stretching, and to keep those joints limber.

7. Give your eyes a break. Staring at the glare of a computer screen eight hours a day isn’t good on the eyes, and scouring over the fine print in the contract can give you a major headache.

Every half-hour, turn your eyes away from the computer screen, or the small-type document you’re reading, and focus on objects around the room. If a window is part of the office décor, give your eyes (and your spirit) a break by looking outside.

8. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Many of us enjoy a cup of coffee as a pick-me-up, but too much coffee may be too much of a good thing.

Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. Keep a bottle of water on your desk, or in the drawer, and take sips regularly to feel better all day. Sure, coffee may give you a boost, but water makes you feel better, too.

9. Get some air. Pull in your stomach muscles and inhale deeply. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly release as you relax your stomach muscles.

Repeat throughout the day to aerate your body. If possible, get outside and breathe some fresh air. Often, recirculated workplace air is stale, and you’ll feel better with just a few breaths of fresh air from outside. If you can open a window, let the fresh air in (assuming it’s at a comfortable temperature, of course.)

10. Set your chair and desk properly. Back aches, loss of circulation in the extremities, neck and shoulder pain – all of these discomforts may be eliminated by setting your chair at the right height, and at the right angle. Elevate your chair so your feet rest comfortably on the floor. Your head should look straight forward at the computer screen.

Also, if you work extensively at a computer, take advantage of ergonomically designed keyboards, wrist rests and other devices that lessen the likelihood of repetitive stress disorder.

Sure, many of us don’t have time to squeeze in a little exercise, but you can work in a workout anywhere, anytime, if you simply think about it.  The key to better fitness isn’t more time – it’s more healthy activities throughout each day – even during the workday.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.


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