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Workouts for the Workplace

Posted Feb 09 2012 5:00am

Ashley Dean is a freelance writer for many health and wellness publications.

Photo Credit: Ashley Dean

Whether you work at an office or out in the field, it’s important to stay active throughout the work day. How do you do this when you’re working, you might ask? Glad you inquired. Here are 10 easy workout moves to get the heart pumping a little on the job.

Getting restless at your cubicle and have an itch to feel the burn in your arms? This move’s for you! Slide your chair back a bit away from your desk, put your hands just about under your butt, and scooch forward off your chair. Keep your legs straight on the floor in front of you and slowly lower your body down, bending your arms at the elbows behind you. Use your tricep muscles!

Do 3 rounds of 10 repetitions, and be prepared to burn for the rest of the afternoon.

Remember the good ‘ole days back in gym class of doing wall sits? The best part of this exercise is that you can do it anytime, anywhere no matter what attire you may be wearing. Just lean up against a wall, slide down until your knees are at a 90-degree angle, the tops of your legs parallel to the ground, and hold.

You’ll feel the burn after a good 10 seconds of wall sits, so start small and gradually increase the time you’re down there. For an extra little workout, put your arms out straight in front of you when you’re holding. Great for thighs and shoulders, then!

Now don’t go rolling around all over your office if you decide to bring in an exercise ball. Just use it in place of your regular desk chair and you have a built-in abdominal workout right at your desk!

Your body will adjust to sitting on an exercise ball instead of a desk chair by contracting the abs and keeping the back straight to maintain balance. You’ll improve your posture and get an all-day ab workout just like that.

This move should work your abs and upper thighs if done properly. Sit straight up in your chair, tuck your abs in, and lift the right leg up. Really tighten your abs to then lift the leg completely off the chair, keeping it straight. Hold for 10 seconds, then release.

4 sets of 3 repetitions of 10 second holds ought to do for this exercise – two sets on each leg, alternating legs with each set. You’ll really start to feel it in your lower abdominals after the first set!

Another leg exercise (leg exercises are the best because the largest muscles in the body are found in the tops of your legs, so they use the most oxygen, thereby getting the blood really pumping even if you’re not breaking a sweat). Start by sitting in your desk chair with your feet about shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward. Slowly use your quadriceps to lift your body slightly off the chair, hold there for 10 seconds, then stand all the way up.

Sit back down slowly and repeat. The key here will be slow and steady movements to maximize the effect of the hold in the squat position. For these, try 3 sets of 8 repetitions of 10-second holds.

For this you’ll need some “props.” If you have an office to yourself, it’s not a bad idea to keep a small dumbbell or two nearby for the impromptu mini office workout. Of if you prefer, just fill up a large water bottle all the way with water (this trick can double for hydration and weight lifting!), hold it in your hand with your arm straight out in front of you, palm facing up, and slowly lift the bottle or weight toward your shoulder.

Make sure you’re really contracting the bicep muscle during this exercise, especially if you don’t have a very heavy weight. Try 3 sets of 12 repetitions for this one.

These are exactly as they sound. You stand up, place your hands about shoulder width apart flat on your desk, and stretch your legs out straight behind you, using your arms to support your body weight. Slowly lower and raise your body using only your arms.

These are like the lame man’s excuse for push ups, so if you can’t do about 5 sets of 15 of these, quit while you’re ahead, because you’re never going to be in shape. Just kidding – try doing a max interval for this exercise. Take 1 minute and see how many push ups you can do. Record your number, and see if you can’t beat it the next day and the next day.

Take a quick walk around your office, but with every step you take, lower your back knee to the ground into a lunge position, keeping your front knee behind your ankle. Lunges can be dangerous if performed incorrectly, so make sure you’re paying attention to your form as you do these.

Do several laps around the office like this until you feel so tired that you can’t do anymore. That should be a good enough workout for you!

Don’t want anyone to see you working out at work? Try doing some butt clenches – they’re not as noticeable as some of these other exercises and you can do them all day long for a nice booty, if you wish. Just clench up your buttocks muscles, hold for 10 seconds, then slowly release. Repeat as many times as you want, but try to aim for at least 5 sets of 10.

Possibly the most simple and straight-forward exercise idea for the office, going for a walk has so many great benefits for your body. First, the fresh air is a perfect break for your lungs after being cooped up in an office for any amount of time. Secondly, walking gets the blood pumping to your entire body, which can actually help increase your energy levels and keep you more alert at work.

Doctors recommend taking 10,000 steps a day, which can be almost 5 miles. This may sound like a lot, but buy a pedometer and start keeping track of your steps and you’ll be surprised at how many you’re already taking. Just increase it by making more of an effort to get up and get moving while you’re at work. Instead of emailing someone two offices over, walk over to talk to them. Park in the farthest spot you can find in the parking lot, or even walk to work. Opt for the stairs instead of the elevator. These are all old tricks that are tried and true and really work to help get your energy levels back up and get you in better shape, even when you’re stuck at the office.

Ashley Dean is a freelance writer for many health and wellness publications. She runs her own shoe store specializing in Wolverine work boots , but ranging in selection from athletic shoes to casual to dressy. She always makes sure to throw a pair on during her lunch break and hit the road for a brisk walk!

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