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5 Ways to Squeeze Exercise Into Your Workday

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Oh, the things you could get done if only your work schedule didn't get in the way. And in that ideal scenario, you'd definitely be fit. After all, you'd put in lots of extra time at the gym, right? You might also take long hikes through the countryside. Maybe you'd even train for a marathon. The possibilities are endless when you have time on your side.

But let's come back to the real world. Unless you win the lottery or are the only living relative of a very wealthy great uncle, the chances of a large amount of work-free time coming your way are slim -- much slimmer than your current waistline, probably -- so it's best to look at realistic ways of squeezing exercise into your life. On the following pages, we'll give you some tips that will help you get fit while you're still punching the clock.

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If there's any word that defines modern corporate culture, it's "multitask." Whether or not it's a listed skill requirement of your job, you most likely put it to use managing your daily workload. So why not employ it with exercise? If you spend a lot of your work time on far-from-engaging tasks like making a lot of copies and faxes or listening in on long conference calls, you can still sneak in a workout [source: Bowman]. Try exercises like these:

  • Use a hands-free headset for conference calls so that you can walk around as you listen and talk.
  • Practice stretching and breathing exercises at the copier.
  • During meetings, draw your abdominal muscles in and out.
  • When you're working at your computer, use an exercise ball as your office chair.

Keep reading for another way to squeeze fitness into your workday.

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Some exercises are much better suited for doing at work than others. Jumping rope? Probably not a good idea. Going through an entire aerobics routine? No way. Using free weights? Now that's actually a great plan.

Store some small dumbbells under your desk or in a spare file drawer, and do bicep-, tricep- or shoulder-strengthening repetitions for 5 to 10 minutes once or twice a day for about three of your workdays. You can even do them while on the phone. When just starting out, women should opt for 2- to 3-pound weights, and men should choose ones that are 5 to 10 pounds [source: UC-Berkley]. Yet another way to build strength is to wear ankle-weights under your slacks -- especially if you walk a lot during your workday. A resistance band is also a convenient strengthening tool to keep at your desk.

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If you want, you can take the weights with you for our next tip.

Who needs step aerobics or a StairMaster when you have actual steps to climb? Stair-climbing is a great aerobic exercise that is easy to do in almost any building over one story. A 135-pound woman can burn about 130 calories by climbing stairs for 20 minutes; a 185-pound man can burn around 178 in the same amount of time [source: Tufts Medical Center].

And going up and down steps for just a few minutes a day can improve your heart health [source: American Council on Exercise]. Imagine how fit you can get by taking the stairs at work more often -- especially if you have several flights to take.

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So opt for stairs over the elevator every chance you get, whether you're just arriving, coming back from lunch, visiting one of your company's other departments on another floor or leaving for the day. You might even want to spend time doing a few laps up and down the stairs on one of your breaks to get in some extra workout time.

You'll be stretching your legs for the following tip as well.

Most of us take walking for granted. It just doesn't seem like a very serious activity. It doesn't require any special training, and almost anyone can do it. Surely it can't be as effective as exercises like running and cycling? Actually, it can. While it will take you longer to burn calories walking than it will with faster activities, you will still get an amazingly beneficial workout.

Another bonus of walking is that it's very easy to do at work. Jogging laps around the accounting department would surely draw unwanted attention from your co-workers, but walking a few extra steps here and there will hardly raise an eyebrow.

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To motivate yourself to walk more at work, wear a pedometer to see how many steps you take. Strive to get 10,000 steps in a day, which is what some studies suggest is the ideal amount for getting fit through walking alone [source: Shape Up America]. When you try to reach this goal, you'll find that you're walking every chance you get -- whether it's parking your car farther away from your office building, walking to lunch or visiting co-workers in person rather than calling or e-mailing them.

Our last tip is coming up.

It still all comes back to time. You wonder if you have enough of it to do even the small things -- much less get in a really good workout. If the clock is your concern, the best option for you is to create more time. Fortunately, this doesn't involve time machines, witchcraft or fringe science -- just a bit of creative planning. Take the following scenarios for example.

Scenario one: You visit your favorite café for lunch. While you may get a delicious, healthy wrap from their menu, you spend most of your lunch hour driving, ordering and getting to and from your car.

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Scenario two: You make a similar wrap for yourself at home the night before and pack it for the next day. You spend 15 minutes eating your lunch, and you still have 45 minutes left to take a walk outside or hop on the treadmill in the corporate gym.

Obviously, scenario two gives you more time for fitness. By spending a little extra time upfront, you actually save yourself more time in the long run.

We have lots more fitness information on the next page.

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Is exercising at work widely accepted?

Is exercising at work widely accepted?

Is exercising at work widely accepted? Visit Discovery Fit & Health to learn if exercising at work is widely accepted.


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Sources

  • American Council on Exercise. "Intermittent Stair Climbing Improves Fitness."(March 6, 2011)http://www.acefitness.org/healthandfitnesstips/healthandfitnesstips_display.aspx?itemid=124
  • Bouchez, Colette. "The Lunch Hour Workout." WebMD. 2006. (March 6, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/the-lunch-hour-workout
  • Bowman, Alisa. "Workday Workouts." Experience Life Magazine. Mar. 2010.(March 6, 2011)http://www.experiencelifemag.com/issues/march-2010/fit-body/workday-workouts.php
  • Brown, Rebecca. "Workout Schedule: Work Out on Your Lunch Break." Shape. (March 6, 2011)http://www.shape.com/fitness/workout-schedule-work-out-on-your-lunch-break
  • Buchan, Meaghan. "Lose weight on your lunch break." Self. (March 6, 2011)http://www.self.com/fitness/workouts/2007/10/lunch-break-slideshow#slide=1
  • Mayo Clinic. "Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health." Dec. 18, 2010. (March 6, 2011)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/walking/HQ01612
  • Popke, Stacy. "Squeeze Exercise into Your Busy Day." The Diet Channel. Sept. 27, 2006. (March 6, 2011)http://www.thedietchannel.com/Squeeze-Exercise-Into-Your-Busy-Day.htm
  • Real Women's Fitness. "9 Ways To Squeeze Exercise Into Your Busy Work Day." (March 6, 2011)http://realwomensfitness.com/womens-weight-loss/9-ways-to-squeeze-exercise-into-your-busy-work-day/
  • Rossheim, John. "Fit fitness into your workday." Monster.com. (March 6, 2011)http://career-advice.monster.com/in-the-office/work-life-balance/fit-fitness-into-your-workday/article.aspx
  • Shape Up America. "10,000 Steps." (March 6, 2011)http://www.shapeup.org/shape/steps.php
  • Tufts Medical Center. "Exercise 101: Stair-Climbing." May 2009. (March 6, 2011)http://www.tufts-nemc.org/apps/HealthGate/Article.aspx?chunkiid=35342
  • UC-Berkley. "Building Muscle and Bone--At Home, On Your Own." (March 6, 2011)http://www.berkeleywellness.com/html/fw/fwFit03StrengthTraining.html

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