10 Ways to Get Moving While at Work

Amy Hendel | Sep 13th 2016 Jun 1st 2017

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Time to move

Sitting on your butt all day isn’t good for your shape or your health. Sitting for too many hours raises the risk of weight gain, and sedentary behavior raises the risk of heart disease and premature death. According to recent studies, we are all sitting for far too many hours – to and from work, at work, at home. Here are tips to get you moving again.

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Find easy ways to move

The American Heart Association recommends 75 minutes of vigorous sweat-inducing exercise weekly, or 150 minutes of low-level exercise weekly (30 minutes daily). Most of us are not hitting those goals. Move the waste basket across the room so you have to get up to throw out trash. Stop emailing and stroll to colleagues to chat, instead. Walk frequently to fill your water bottle. Walk the stairs. Stand up throughout the day.

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Work magic with portable elastic bands

Resistance bands come in a variety of tensions, with and without handles, and specifically for upper or lower body exercises. They stash easily in a handbag or briefcase and can be kept in an office drawer. Bicep curls, shoulder press, front raise, squats, and other exercises can give you a full workout in a tiny cubicle. Do two sets of each exercise, 12 - 15 repetitions per set.

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Try push-ups

Push-ups help to target the chest muscles, shoulders, triceps, back, and core. In an office setting you can perform push-ups off the wall, edge of your desk, or floor. You can also use the edge of your chair to do triceps pushups. Variations of the push-up performed quickly can also raise your heart rate and improve circulation.

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Take a lunch walk or class

Use your lunch hour to refuel and work out. Many clubs offer 30-minute classes at lunchtime so you can exercise and eat. Option two is a 30-minute walk, using the other half hour for a quick meal. Consider creating a lunchtime walking club or ask the boss if the company can subsidize an onsite workout class. A quiet, unoccupied room could be used to follow an online workout.

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Take 'walking meetings'

A new approach to adding movement and workout time to the office setting is having a walking meeting. This approach can be used first thing in the morning or at some point during the day.  Some offices allow meetings at the gym, while walking on the treadmill. More flexible offices allow employees to leave work early to work out and then meet for an end-of-the-day briefing.  Make the suggestion!

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Use free weights

A recent study suggests that using light weights and many repetitions can yield the same muscle-building results as heavy weights. Light weights fit under a desk or in a drawer. Get a full body workout with light weights, using them to add challenge to lunges and squats and for a full upper body workout. You can divide the workout into two 15-minute or three 10-minute routines.

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Fidget and pace when using the phone

Fidgeting can help to burn calories and help you to live longer. Another way to sneak movement into your day is to stand during phone calls. Take that to the next level and pace when you use the phone or have tele-conferences. This will help to burn some calories, improve circulation, and reduce the risk of DVTs (deep venous thrombosis) from many hours of sitting.

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Try an under-desk stepper

You can invest in a standing or walking desk, though the price on those can be pretty steep. A less expensive option is to buy an under-the-desk mini-stepper or cycler, which allows you to pedal or rotate your feet while you work. These exercise devices range in price, but they may be a good match for you. The key is to be willing to try something new.

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Use apps that inspire movement

Your smartphone can also be your coach, e.g., reminding you to stand at set intervals. New apps can also nudge you to take movement breaks or to fit in precious workout time at work.  Pedometers can help you to track steps per day. Some newer office software programs remind you to take breaks by analyzing your work patterns.

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Consider public transit or change parking habits

If you have public transit options they likely involve walking to and from stops or walking up and down stairs – both preferable to sitting in a car. If you have to drive to work, park a distance away from your office so you accumulate walking time to and from work. It may seem like an unnecessary hassle, but those extra minutes of movement can quickly add up.