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10 Tips on Working Out while Working Full-time

Posted Oct 04 2011 11:05am


Back in the days when working full time meant sunup to sundown on the farm – plowing fields, fencing pastures, milking cows, (and all before breakfast) – staying in shape wasn’t really a concern; hernias were.

These days, however, most of us perform professions that are much less physically demanding. (At least if we allow them to be.) However, with a little bit of good advice and a big dose of self-discipline, it is indeed possible to work-in your work-outs into even the most sedentary of schedules. Here are some tips to help get you on your way.

Tip #1: Have a Goal

Before your first rep is ripped, have a realistic goal of what you wish to attain. Is it weight loss? A desired 10k time? A new PR on the bench press at the gym? Whatever the case, write the magic number on a piece of poster board and tack it to the wall in your office. Make sure the goal is measurable and that, on occasion, you check your progress by making a longitudinal line graph on the bottom of the same poster board. Visual feedback. Sometimes we forget how well it works.

Tip #2: Make a List of What’s Feasible

Take a look at tips #4 through #10 below and see how many you can actually incorporate into your circumstances. Perhaps you will come up with some exercises of your own. In any case, make sure to create a bullet list of your available workday exercises and write them on the poster board as well. Make a little dot or check beside each one as you perform them.

Tip #3: Lifestyle Changes to Make Your Exercise Easier

Finally, before your work day workouts even begin, make a concerted effort to eliminate as many poor choices as you can that stand in the way of greater health. Doing so will make your actual exercising all the more effective. The enemies list is the usual culprits: cigarettes, alcohol, excessive internet use, late night television, hydrogenated fat, refined sugar, coffee, fried food, etc. (Yes, I know you already know all this – we all do – but the list is a veritable siren’s song of guilty pleasures and it helps to be reminded.)

Tip #4: Stand Up and Walk

Do you have a job that requires you to spend a large amount of time talking on a phone? From customer service to sales, many of us do. But, while you obviously have to stay focused to get your job done well, there’s no reason you have to make those calls sitting down. Even if all you can do is pace back and forth in a cubicle, then pace back and forth; the distance will add up and so will the calories you’ll burn. However, if you are fortunate enough to have a job that allows you more mobility, then, by all means, make sure you have clear 4g internet and pound some pavement while you close those deals.

Tip #5: Stairs

Do you work in a building with stairs, or, at least, visit one with stairs during the course of your work? If so, use them. Stair climbing is not only an excellent exercise, but a big building’s stairwell is also a quiet place from which to hold all those phone calls you’re making. Since just about everybody else takes the elevator, you will have the building’s stairwell as pretty much your personal gym and private office. (While going up, take two to three steps at time going up to get a fuller range of motion.)

Tip #6: Ankle and Wrist Weights

Through the magic of Velcro, it is now possible to attach small weights to your ankles and wrists. Not much weight, perhaps as little as one to three pounds, but, over the course of the day, a little adds up to a lot. If you don’t care who sees you with weights strapped to your extremities, then you can go heavier. If it does matter, then you can attach them discretely under your shirt or pants. However, do remember that beneath the soft material and the Velcro there is iron. Iron sets off airport metal detectors, and trying to get through one of those with your weights strapped to your body would not be a good idea.

Tip #7: Dumbbells

Without dragging a treadmill into a cubicle, there is no reason why you still can’t bring in some unobtrusive equipment into your office environment. The most obvious would be a small set of dumbbells, preferably the kind that allows you to change the weights for different exercises. (And make sure you get rubber-coated weights; very few supervisors would appreciate the clanking of metal as you change the weight.) Well, you speak or even read, simple dumbbell exercises – low weight, high reps – allow you to tone and, studies show, even increase concentration. ( Something you may want to show your supervisor before you start your work work-outs.)

Tip #8: Yoga Mat

Get one. Sit ups. Push ups. Basic stretches. And all easily done while speaking on a phone or even reading a screen. Plus, you’ll look cool.

Tip #9: Drink Cold Water

When you get thirsty during the day, drink cold water from ice that’s melting inside a stainless steel thermos. Not only does your body naturally expend calories to raise the cold water you consume to your body’s temperature, but, by using a steel thermos, you’ll show that you understand that water from plastic bottles is an environmental monstrosity.

Tip #10: Organize an All Office Work Out

Finally, one of the best ways to work out while working is to get others to do it with you. Pitch it to your supervisor: office exercise time could increase productivity and help lower your company’s medical insurance costs. If you form an office team and sign up for a local run, it could help with your public relations. There exist innumerable runs for charity and, if you organize a team to represent your office in that next 5k, you would have a good excuse for lying spread-out on that yoga mat while going over that spreadsheet.

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