How to Exercise at the Office

If you work in an office all day as millions of Americans do then it can be difficult to find the time to work out. In the morning it can feel like you barely have enough time to enjoy a substantial breakfast, let alone find additional time to exercise, and in the evenings you may have other responsibilities or simply be too tired to hit the gym.

If you’re in this position then you should look to squeeze as much exercise into your week as you can, whether you’re hitting the gym on the weekends or going for a run on an evening. But there are also exercises that you can do at the office to increase your fitness and your overall health.

We are used to getting our exercise in at the gym, and at home with exercises like HIIT Max™, but did you know you can also work out at your office? Here are some exercises you can do at your desk to help keep you in shape!

Hand Grips 

hand grip office exercise

Hand grips are designed to strengthen the muscles in your wrist. They are often marketed at guitar players looking to improve the functionality of their fretting hands, but they can also help weightlifters gain more stamina and strength and they can guard against potential problems related to excessive typing.

Basic hand grips have two handles positioned in a V shape, with one handle held at the base of your fingers and the other on the heel of your hand. There are also hand grips that provide varying degrees of resistance for each finger and work more of those important wrist muscles, but the best tool for strengthening your grip is something known as a Powerball.

Your wrists play a huge role in all upper body workouts. The reason wrist exercises are not included in workout programs is that many of the exercises you do, from tricep extensions to dumbbell curls, will work them anyway. But whether you lift weights or not, you can still benefit from improving the size and performance of these muscles.

Butt Clenches

Butt clenches are a great way to tone the muscles in your backside and get that trim, slim ass everyone wants. The people who strive for a shapely backside are the ones who will perform endless cardio in order to get it, without ever really targeting the muscles there. The exercises that do target the glutes, including squats and deadlifts, are often ignored by casual gym goers, dismissed as bodybuilding exercises.

But you don’t need heavy weights and strenuous exercise to make improvements here. Making a commitment to include regular butt clenches into your day will suffice. You can do them when you are standing or sitting, just clench, hold, release and then repeat. If you are performing them for the first time then try for 15 to 20 clenches in a row, followed by a break of 30 to 60 seconds and then another 2 to 3 sets.

If you’re not hurting the next day then repeat and gradually increase the amount that you do, both in terms of reps and sets. You’ll have an ass like Jennifer Lopez—or Channing Tatum—in no time.

Steppers and Mini-Bikes

Steppers are a basic way to get some distance training into your lower body. They are small machines that usually retail for less than $30 and allow you to step up and down, simulating a walk up the stairs. There are also mini pedal exercisers that are better for cardio, but won’t be as effective at building the muscles in your legs.

These machines are not a replacement for stationary bikes or for walking up and down the stairs. When you perform these activities upright you are committing more muscles to the task and will burn more calories as a result. But it’s a great option for shedding some extra pounds while you’re sitting at your desk and it’s also very cheap.

Stretching at Your Desk

stretch at your desk for office exercise

There are some simple stretches that you can do while at your desk. You can do these even if you’re chatting on the phone or working on your computer, so there is no excuse not to—although your coworkers may think you’re a little odd.

  1. Extend: Stretch your legs out under the desk and extend until you feel those muscles working. Push your heels out, hold and then repeat with your toes. You can also extend your upper body, raising your arms above your head.
  2. Shrug: Sit-up straight and shrug, holding that position for a few seconds. This will work your traps and your shoulders.
  3. Head-Roll: Lower your chin to your chest and roll your head from side to side, making sure you don’t strain yourself.
  4. Knee Press: Place one ankle on the opposing knee and lean forward, applying pressure to the glutes and hamstrings.
  5. Leg Lifts: If you have plenty of space under your desk then sit upright with your ankles pressed together and then raise your legs. Hold them in position when they are extended and then gradually lower them. This works better when you have some resistance attached, speaking of which…

Add Weights to Office Exercises

If you strap on some ankle or wrist weights you can make your exercise at the office that little bit more productive. The extra weight will add more tension to your muscles, which will turn simple stretches into resistance training.

However, these weights are not recommended for use throughout the day. You don’t want to add unnecessary tension to simple tasks, especially if you’re writing on a keyboard or using a mouse. It’s a one-way ticket to repetitive stress injury. Use ankle weights when walking and wrist weights when stretching, and then leave them at your desk for the rest of the day.

Standing vs Sitting

A few years ago it was reported that by standing at your workstation you could burn more calories and extend your lifespan. It seemed like a simple solution and as a result, furniture manufacturers and offices worldwide began creating and implementing standing workstations.  However, when additional studies were performed on larger and more varied groups, the results could not be replicated and it seems like the odds of you meeting your maker does not increase if you spend more time sitting than standing in your workplace.

The problem with this kind of study is that it is always going to favor those who sit less. After all, if you spend less time sitting then there’s a good chance that you are a more active person, have a more active job or simply don’t like staying still for long periods of time, all of which will lead to a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular problems. However, if you sit when you are at work but remain active and otherwise healthy when you are not, then there should be nothing to worry about.

It goes without saying that the more you move the better your health will be and the more calories you will burn, so, by all means, try to move around a little more when you are at work—go for a walk during your break, deliver messages in person instead of email—but don’t concern yourself with the risks of having a stationary job.

Ways to Add More Activity to Your Working Day

  • Try walking or cycling there or back, or at least part of the way.
  • Walk to a nearby cafe or shop for your lunch instead of taking it with you.
  • Walk around the office when possible.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Join the staff gym if available.

If you want to be sure you are staying healthy, remember, exercise is only part of the equation. You also need to be sure that you are eating a healthy diet of whole foods. If you are trying to develop healthy habits, or lose weight, have a nutritionist create a plan just for you with our Custom Meal Plans.

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