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Quick exercise tips for the overworked professional

With the holidays finished and a new, uncharted year ahead, many find this time of year to be best for setting goals and resolutions for 2014, including getting fit and in shape. Just because you spend most of your hours at work doesn’t mean you can’t get steady, regular exercise in, nor does it mean you should avoid it. Regular exercise, as many health experts recommend, plays a strong role in managing stress, improving mood, boosting energy, among other benefits. Recent articles have cast light on the dangers of sedentary posture, including sitting at a desk for more than an hour at a time and its damaging effects on your health.

Training for a long distance triathlon isn't the only way you can incorporate exercise into your demanding work schedule.
Joel Ford/Getty Images

Even if you’re spending more than 40 hours a week at the office, you can integrate some helpful exercises into your daily routine. Many of these exercises can be done discreetly in your cubicle, during an extraordinarily boring teleconference, for example.

Here is a list of quick and easy exercises you can do at work, guided by some helpful how-to’s you can access right from your desk:

  • Wrist and forearm stretches, as seen on The wrists and forearms are areas especially vulnerable to stress and overuse for those working in a desk-based office setting. Also, with carpal tunnel syndrome being a common prevalent condition affecting people who type at computers regularly, you'll want to pay special attention to these areas. Click here to review five simple step-by-step stretches to get your wrists and forearms in shape, including the At-Your-Desk stretch.
  • Core areas, including the back, stomach and legs- Looking for exercises that get you up and moving, elevating the heart rate a bit without having to leave your office? WebMD offers their five-minute exercise video clip, which incorporates use of the desk and office chair for a series of 5 simple exercises. These exercises focus on core areas including the stomach, back and legs and involve a series of easy-to-perform dynamic movements to break up your typical office posture.
  • Neck - Stuck on a boring conference call for the next hour? It’s a great time to focus on the neck, as you can still talk and listen to your boss or teammates while sitting in the comfort of your chair. Kathryn Howell, fitness instructor and of Gimme 5 in the Office video fame, shares some simple head and neck rolls you can do while rattling off last month's numbers to your team on your daily sales call.

While the above exercises don’t offer much of a comprehensive cardiovascular workout, there are easy ways to get solid aerobic activity at your place of work -- and they involve minimal changes in your behavior. Instead of hanging out with buddies at a nearby lunch spot for the entire hour, choose to cut lunch short to walk for 20-30 minutes back to your office building. Or better yet, as everyone waits for the elevator to the 8th floor each morning, choose to take the stairs each day, incorporating a quick and purposeful way to get your heart rate up and the blood pumping.

Do you find it difficult to integrate a regular exercise routine into your daily schedule? Know any other quick exercise tips for the work environment? Share your thoughts now.

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