Regular exercise is a great way to keep yourself healthy, happy and productive. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise has multiple benefits:
Controls your weight and helps fight conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease
Puts you in a better mood and gives you a boost of energy
Makes it easier to fall asleep and improves the quality of your sleep.
It’s easy to see that not only will exercise improve your overall quality of life, but also help improve the quality of your work. By being healthier, better rested, more energetic and in a better mood, you'll likely become more efficient, as well.
But, being tied to a desk for 40-plus hours a week means that it's not always easy to get exercise in. To improve your life and the quality of your work, here are five easy ways to squeeze in exercise at the office without embarrassing yourself or going overboard:
1. Take a walk at lunch or during calls.
One of the biggest misconceptions most people have about exercise is that it needs to go on for a long time or at high intensity.
Simply walking for 30 minutes each day is enough to start seeing a significant number of health benefits. That can mean just stepping outside for a bit during lunch and taking a quick stroll around the parking lot or block. Or, you might consider enjoying a brisk walk outside of the office before you leave at night.
Remember that you don’t have to be tethered to your computer at all times.
2. Stretch at your desk.
The worst thing you can do at your desk is sit still all day long. Stretching isn’t going to help you drop 20 pounds, but it will keep you loose and limber, which helps fight conditions like carpal tunnel. Here are some stretches you can do from your desk:
Shrug your shoulders. During a deep breath, shrug your shoulders as high as you can. Move your head side to side slowly as far as you can.
Extend your legs. Hold the edge of your seat with both hands and straighten your legs out completely. Flex your toes and roll your ankles.
Twist your torso. Take a deep breath and grab the back of your chair with the opposite hand. Holding the chair, twist your torso as far as you can. Repeat with your other arm.
Point your fingers. Extend one arm forward and point your fingers down to the ground. Take your opposite hand and gently push your fingers inward toward your body. Repeat with your other hand. Roll your wrists.
3. Replace your chair with an exercise ball.
Trading in a traditional office chair for an exercise ball is simple and gives you the chance to exercise while you're working all day. Simply balancing yourself on the ball strengthens your abdominal muscles, reduces the amount of stress on your back and boosts your balance. Make sure to spend plenty of time learning to balance on the exercise ball at home before bringing it to the office. That way, you won’t accidentally fall off -- embarassing! -- or tire too quickly.
4. Skip sitting altogether.
Many people are getting healthier at work by getting rid of their chairs completely. By working at a standing desk, people are able to burn extra calories and improve their posture. If you want to consider a standing desk, make sure not to throw your chair out completely at first. You’ll want to take it easy by standing for half an hour to an hour each day before taking the plunge and using a standing desk full time.
You’ll also want to invest in a mat and comfortable shoes. Finally, make sure to set your desk up properly so you don’t need to strain to read your computer screen or type.
5. Focus on the little things.
There are plenty of small things you can do throughout the day to get a bit of exercise and burn some extra calories. These include:
Standing and walking around the office to deliver messages instead of sending an email or making a phone call
Focusing on your posture by sitting up straight
Breathing deeply to stay relaxed and keep your heart rate low
Parking at the back of the parking lot to walk a little bit more instead of fighting for a front-row spot
Finding the time to exercise while you're working a full-time job is difficult. Finding a way to exercise at the office without looking silly can be even more challenging.
But by following the advice above, you’ll stay happier and healthier without impacting your office reputation.