Wednesday, May 20, 2015

10 Easy "workouts" While at Work

Let's be honest.

Most of us have a life outside of our running shoes. We have families that need our attention. Household dwellings that do not clean themselves. And, I'm going out on a limb here, I am guessing the majority of the people reading this also have jobs outside the home in some capacity.

We all know how to  lace up the running shoes, and some of us play around with  DVD workouts in the privacy of our houses. Some choose to head to a gym. Did you know you don't necessarily have to be dressed in workout gear (or in a workout establishment) to actually work your muscles?

Here are 10 "workouts" you can do while at work.  These are not meant in any way to replace a real workout, but instead you can use them to ease away a little stress or tension throughout the day. Your mental well-being may get a little recharge, and your muscles will not be sitting idle.

1- Squatting (instead of sitting) over the toilet. That's right. I know you probably make at least one trip to the restroom during your work day, why not take advantage of those precious moments away from your desk? Squatting very closely resembles the chair pose (from yoga), utilizing the quads (tops of thighs) and core as you hold the position. Try not to rest your arms on your legs, and instead hold them over your head, or just keep them raised above your legs...this will work your core a little more effectively. Try to hold for 20-30 seconds.

2- While in the restroom, you'll probably need to wash your hands. Have you ever tried balancing on one foot while you're lathering up? And, balancing on the other as you're drying? Balancing on one foot is difficult enough, but dong it while engaged in another activity makes it even more challenging. Try to balance on each foot for 10 seconds.

3- Back at your desk (seated), you can alternate lifting each leg, keeping it parallel to the floor. Flex each foot and hold for a few seconds. Alternate with pointing your toes. Sounds simple, but it will work your calf muscles and shins, and also your thighs and buttocks. That's a win-win.

4- You can also simply just hold each leg up (parallel to the floor) without flexing or pointing...the longer you're able to hold it, the more you'll need to tap into your core to maintain the balance. Do these intermittently throughout the day, as you're reading through emails or work-related correspondence (but not as you're answering said emails or correspondence unless you're really gifted with multi-tasking skills).

5- Does your place of work have a kitchen or break room? Do you find yourself killing idle time, waiting for something in the microwave? How about doing a few push-ups against the counter? Granted 30 push-ups on the floor would be more effective, but doing 10 quick push-ups at the counter is better than doing zero. I do them near the sink, so if someone happens to enter the room I can pretend to be picking up something from the floor. I have invited people to join me, but (so far) no takers.

6- Not comfortable doing push-ups in public? You can use the counter as a makeshift barre, and (instead) do a few leg lifts while you're waiting for the microwave to do its thing. Face the counter, and do 10-20 reverse lifts (works the glutes and hamstrings), turnaround and do 10-20 forward lifts (works the quads).

7- Do you ever contract your abs, just because? Your ab muscles gain strength (and get toned) by flexing. You don't necessarily need to be in the crunch position to work them either. Simply sitting at your desk, tightening your abs and slowly twisting left and right will enhance your abs over time. As most of us know, there is no quick fix for achieving flat or toned abs. Like all other muscles, they only gain strength by being worked.

8- Another under-the-desk move is to hold a leg up (again, parallel to the floor) and slowly do small circles, clockwise and then counter-clockwise, one leg at a time. This is another mind-less, not-needing-to think-about-it move. You're not going to burn many calories, but you are engaging the muscles, and any movement is better than no movement. 

9- The "slow-motion stand up move" is another easy move if you're constantly getting in and out of your chair (hello? copy machine, anyone?). As I am lifting out of my chair, I focus on firmly pressing on my heels (instead of the balls of my feet), which engages my hamstrings more. Try doing this (secretly) while balancing on just one leg for even more of a challenge.

10- Do you find yourself standing over a file cabinet or drawer, as you file away important papers? That's a perfect opportunity to "flex and hold" the thigh muscles without looking conspicuous. You'll be amazed how much of a burn you'll feel in 30 seconds of filing.

Now, let me just say that I do not spend my entire work day doing these numerous little moves. I do them periodically, depending on my job-related tasks. I have several emails to read and respond to, so I'm able to do some of the desk moves depending on the level of concentration needed (obviously, I am not flexing/contracting while reading complex, detail-orientated information), and I do not make any unnecessary trips to the bathroom just so I can reach a daily squat quota.   After all, I go to my job to "work," not to "workout" around the clock.

How about you? Do you have any workout moves you've done while on the job?


  1. Wow, Kim! And I thought going for a walk at lunch was enough...wrestling with toddlers to examine their've given me a whole bunch of new things to do!

    1. ha ha! I'm always thinking outside the box, Wendy! #keepslifeinteresting

  2. These tips are awesome! I work in a small office filled with girls who work out a lot and have my own office room to myself, so I feel like I could do this kind of stuff all day and not feel crazy :) I'm definitely sharing this with my manager!

  3. I love these tips!!!
    I figured out how many squats, lunges whatever I could do during different actions during the day! 30 squats during a Keurig cycle. Clock lunges while a report was generating. Etc. I'd set up little mini challenges for myself throughout the day. gotta keep it fun!

    1. I agree, you gotta keep it fun, and always be willing to try something new :-)

  4. Great ideas! I like the squatting idea and sometimes when I change into workout clothes before lunch, I try to work on my one leg balance. I never really thought of how many little things you can do while at work, so thanks!