Simple Ways to Get Fit During Your Workday

Carmen Roberts, MS, RD, LDN | May 18, 2017

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Did you know that the average person spends about 10 hours each day sitting down? According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is one of the leading causes of death and disability. Now commonly known as “sitting disease,” this sedentary lifestyle can put us at risk for type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and some cancers.  If you don’t have time to go to the gym, you can do these simple exercises at work or home with no equipment needed.

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Run or walk in place

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Take a break from the computer. Stand up and walk or run in place for 3-5 minutes. For added intensity, alternate lifting your knees as close as you can to your chest. You can vary the intensity by alternating running and walking in place. Put your phone on speaker while you’re on a conference call and do simple knee lifts. This is a great warm up for other exercises.

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Sitting on the edge of your office chair, lift yourself up to a standing position, and then sit back down again. After 10 squats, take a 30-second break and repeat this move 10 more times. You can also do this move from a standing position without a chair. Squats work nearly every muscle in your lower body, and are great for building quadriceps, gluteal muscles, and hamstrings.

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Jumping rope

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You can use an actual jump rope if you have room, or you can use an imaginary rope with the same arm movements. Begin by hopping on both feet, then hop using alternating feet. This move will get your heart rate up quickly and is a great calorie burner. Just 10 minutes of jumping rope burns an average of 100 calories — a great way to burn off that morning latte!

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You don’t have to do a full military push-up on your floor: you can use the wall or desk to lighten the load on your upper body. If using the wall, face the wall and stand a few feet away. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and put your palms flat on the wall straight out in front of you and shoulder-width apart. If using your desk, put your palms on the desk shoulder-width apart and do the push-up at a 45-degree angle. Do 10 full push-ups, take a 30-60 second break, and repeat.

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Wall squats

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This move is tough! Place your back against a wall. With your feet hip-distance apart and your shoes two feet away from the wall, drop your knees down until your legs form a 90-degree angle. To protect your knees, do not let your knees come out over your toes. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. After a quick break, repeat up to three more times. When you’re ready for the next challenge, try doing this move holding one leg straight out in front of you and switch legs after 30 seconds.

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Triceps dips

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Stand in front of your desk or chair. With your hands shoulder-width apart and your legs out in front of you, grab the edge of the desk or chair behind you, move your bottom off of the chair, and lift yourself up and down. Straighten your arms and keep a slight bend in your elbows to keep the tension on your triceps and off of your elbows. Aim for 10-15 dips, take a break, and repeat the set.

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Lunges are a great way to work all muscles in your legs. With one leg in front of the other, lower the knee of your back leg down towards the ground. To protect your knees, make sure that your front knee does not go over your toes (your front knee should be at a 90-degree angle with the floor). Repeat the lunge 10-15 times and then switch legs. Try for two sets on each leg. For a change of scenery, try doing these lunges down the hallway at work, alternating legs with each lunge.

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Calf raises

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Holding on to your desk or chair in front of you for support, stand up and slowly raise your heels off the floor until you are standing on your toes, then slowly lower your heels back down to the floor. Repeat this move 10 times. After a 30-second break, repeat this set 1-2 more times. Calf raises are a great way to tone the muscles in your lower legs.

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Shoulder press

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You can tone your shoulders and improve your posture doing this move with little or no weight. Start without weight, and then build up to using something lightweight such as soup cans or water bottles. Hold your hands up at shoulder height (like a goalpost). Slowly raise your hands up until your arms are straight overhead and then lower them back down. After 10 presses, take a break and repeat this set 1-2 more times. Even a small amount of weight makes this exercise very effective.

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The bottom line

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Take a few minutes out of your day to try these exercises; it can have a huge impact on your health. When you don’t have time to go to the gym, get creative and think of ways to fit in time for fitness. Take a walk with a coworker instead of sitting in a meeting room, march in place while on a conference call, or pop in a workout DVD in your office computer at lunchtime. Small bouts of exercise throughout the day can be just as effective as longer workouts when it comes to improving health.