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Work Your Body: Working Out at Work

One way to help keep yourself committed to a healthier lifestyle is to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.

But instead of getting up earlier or hitting the gym immediately after work, consider taking some time out during the day for getting out of your chair and getting active.

It’s easier than you think.

Creative Workday Movement

One way to add more motion to your workweek is finding even brief moments of activity during the day.

“Having a positive attitude and seeking out small chances to squeeze in more movement can make a difference between an inactive and an active lifestyle,” says health educator Shirley Archer, author of Fitness 9 to 5: Easy Exercises for the Working Week (Chronicle Books).

Archer says simple alterations to normal routines can make a big difference. These include:

  • Parking further away from the office
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Going to coworkers’ desks or offices to have discussions rather than sending emails

    Though it may seem unlikely, your office can essentially become your gym.

    Archer explains, “The stairwell is a ‘bun blaster.’ The sink in the restroom is a perfect place to do some quick push-ups. You can even stretch while seated at your desk. It simply takes the mindset to see the chances to move more.”

    Archer suggests the “cat stretch” as a way to work out the kinks. To perform this exercise:

    1. Sit upright near the edge of your chair with your feet on the floor, heels in line with your knees.
    2. Place your palms on the top of your thighs. Then inhale and lengthen your spine.
    3. Exhale, rounding your back like an arching cat, and pull your stomach in toward your spine. Relax, letting the weight of your head stretch your neck.
    4. Inhale deeply, and sit up tall.
    5. Repeat three to five times.

      Another exercise consists of turning the basic motion of sitting down into a series of squats.

      “Every time you go to sit in your desk chair, instead of allowing your hips to touch the seat, return to standing and repeat 10 times,” Archer says. “Repeat this all day every time you return your desk to sit down. This is a fantastic functional move to keep your legs, hips and thighs strong.”

      Orthopedic surgeon David Geier, MD, notes that other basic activities, such as pushups and situps, can be performed without equipment and in relatively small office spaces. If you favor dumbbells, bicep and tricep curls can become a part of your daily workplace rituals.

      Create a Fitness-Ready Mindset

      To reinforce any office exercise routines you start, get friends and coworkers involved. For example, start a regular lunchtime walking group.

      “Try to be around other healthy people and make the environment you are immersed in for eight to 12 hours a day a healthy one,” Geier says. “Have photos of people exercising visible. Schedule automatic reminders encouraging you to do short periods of exercise throughout the day.”

      Archer agrees, adding, “Concentrate on increasing your mindful awareness of those habitual decisions you make without thinking, such as having an extra cup of coffee with sugar, when simply walking briskly around the office or up and down the stairs will also get your energy moving.”

      When it comes to exercise in the office, it’s the little things that make a difference.

      As Archer states, “The bottom line is that health is something we create each day with the small choices that we make.”

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      **These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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