Is this your life?
- Your alarm goes off and instead of getting up you hit the snooze button. Suddenly you’re racing to get dressed, jump in the car, barely make it to work on time, and now for the next 8 hours you mostly sit, except for some quick runs to the bathroom and a hasty lunch run (which you eat at your desk). Back in the car to get home, cook a quick dinner, and now you realize you never got to the gym (if it was even on your to do list). By the time you do laundry, it’s time to shower and go to bed. This is your basic work week format.
- Your alarm goes off and you jump out of bed ready to work out, but your child intercepts you and shares that he never did his homework. Your precious workout time goes to his needs (or some other family issues), then its breakfast on the table, lunches to pack, car pool, and off to work. You want to grab a power walk at lunch, but there’s an unexpected lunch meeting. The afternoon requires non-stop desk work, and suddenly it’s time to leave, pick up the kids, take them to after-school sports, and scramble to put dinner on the table, do homework, and pack lunches. You’re exhausted and crawl in bed, only to repeat this day tomorrow.
- You actually get a workout into your day, most days of the week, but then you sit for the rest of the day at work, go home, and veg-out in front of the television or computer.
Clearly person number three is way ahead of the game, in terms of getting in some healthy exercise. But sitting all day, after a workout of 30 to 60 minutes is not a perfect scenario either. And sitting all day with little physical movement (examples one and two) is downright dangerous. So how can we fit meaningful exercise into our harried and unforgiving schedules? If you’re not familiar with HIIT - high intensity interval training - it’s a workout that alternates between intense burst of activity for a specific period of time, followed by fixed periods of less intense exercise or a rest period. So you can jump rope for 90 seconds followed by marching in place or just walking the room for 45 seconds, and then repeat five times. You can string several different HIIT exercises together for a full workout. It’s a very effective form of exercise, and perfect for a before-work quick workout or lunchtime workout or after work exercise session. It’s become quickly popular in gyms, with well-known brands like CrossFit and PX90 using this type of exercise format.
Well, why not perform very short HIIT exercises in your office cubicle? According to a Reuters Health newswire report, Sean Foy, an exercise physiologist, says that mini-efforts of HIIT during your work day, can be "office-friendly" bouts of exercise that get the job done, cumulatively. His book, The Burst Workout: the Power of 10-Minute Interval Training, suggests marching in place, running in place, air boxing, wall and desk pushups, among the many exercises that can be done pretty unobtrusively at work, helping you to sneak in effective exercise. I personally am the queen of desk exercises, having created workouts for clients pressed-for-time, for over twenty years. Squatting over your chair and standing, dynamic plies, shadow boxing, arm exercises with light weights, traditional and triceps pushups off your chair, and using elastic bands, can allow you to create endless HIIT exercise scripts that can be done in a small space.
If you’re sedentary, this type of exercise will elevate you heart rate immediately, helping to burn calories and improve your cardiovascular fitness. If you already work out, you still need physical activity during the day, so HIIT quick bursts will enhance your efforts to lose weight or maintain weight and keep your circulation patent. These efforts will also boost your energy levels, your mood, and your work productivity. If you exercised in the past and have lost your mojo, cubicle HIIT as we’ll call it, can re-connect you with an exercise commitment because it takes into account your limited time. And you can keep reinventing your exercise groupings and reconfiguring your time ratios, so you keep achieving new fitness goals. Just remember that "if it’s short - it has to be intense."
You need to move your body throughout the day to limit risk of disease, to help to ignite your metabolism, to help with energy and calorie balance, and to re-charge from mental fatigue. Consider this a smart way to fit exercise into your challenging workday!
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Known as The HealthGal, expert contributor Amy Hendel is a popular medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, columnist, and brand ambassador, as well as a health coach. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, you can find her on Twitter @HealthGal1103 and on Facebook at TheHealthGal. Her personal mantra is “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”