Ten Tips to Stay Active While Working
We've all been there.
We've all made good intentions to start building more muscle and eating cleaner at some point or another (possibly several times within the past month?), sometimes even setting unrealistic goals and then coming down harshly when we fall short of our expectations. One #relatable example is something I hear from women all the time: computer work.
Let's be real! Technology is seriously booming right now and most days, people spend more time facing their devices than the eyes of those they love. This can not only affect the stimuli receptors in the brain, but also your sleep patterns, anxiety and depression levels, social skills, and one big thing I want to talk about today --- m o v e m e n t.
Moving your body is not only absolutely necessary for optimal health, but it can also positively affect your energy levels throughout the day! Don't you want to be skipping out of your office to your vehicle at the end of the day instead of sighing every two seconds as the final hours drag by?
Having come from a restaurant background, moving was never a problem, and maybe some of you can relate? In these tips, I've also included several tips that can absolutely be applied to a standing job as well to help tone while you work! Fitting in exercise is sometimes a struggle for those who work on their feet all day, or even busy moms (also on their feet all day) --- so to fit in some conscious moves targeting specific body parts can really help you feel energized.
I totally get that work is stressful. In fact, I want to start by sharing a breathing exercise to try out now and while you're at work. This is something that helps bring a grounding awareness to wherever you are, slowing your heart rate, and chilling your shit out.
I want you to take a deep breath in through your nose for a count of five. Hold your inhale, and take three more sips of air. Hold this in for eight seconds. Got it?! Now, release slowly through your mouth for a count of ten. Do this as many times as you like, and tell that anxious voice in your head to take a hike.
1. PARK AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE
If you have a tendency to be late, praying all the way to work that you'll magically find a front-row spot to zip into before you sprint to your desk, this tip might be a challenge. For those of you who already arrive to work a little early, parking toward the back of you office (or grocery store, mall, etc) can increase your steps and dramatically add up over time! This is something that Collin and I regularly do, we aren't eager to be right by the entrance, or spent any time circling around the lot looking for a close space. Just imagine how much time you spend doing that....that's time you could be getting your steps in!
2. SET A TIMER
If you're working from home, or in an environment where you have space to move around a bit, set a timer on your phone for every two hours of your shift. Got it? Now, when the timer goes off, do a micro-circuit! Put three to five minutes aside to try choosing two of the following moves and alternating 20 reps of each move: jumprope (jumping in place without a rope does the trick), jumping jacks, push ups, squats, running in place. This will get your blood pumping, and keep your muscles warm throughout your shift. No cramps!
3. SEATED CORE WORK
My absolute favorite muscle group to work while I'm seated is my abs! *I'm so funny!* No, but really. If you can't get up to move around too much while you're at work, how about trying to keep your core engaged for long periods of time? A strong core can help you in so many different moves, from planks to running long distances, and moving it around can also promote healthy digestion!
Some good moves to do in addition to simply flexing and locking your core while you work (hello, good posture!) are abdominal rolls and also knee raises. Try engaging your core and bringing one knee to hover off of the ground. Hold this and switch legs. Repeat as many times as you want to bring that fire to your belly! When getting stiff, I suggest rolling your chest around while your core is engaged --- alternate between big and little circles to help stretch and strengthen your spine.
4. LAPTOP? WALL SIT.
This move is a burner! Do you have room in your office to sit against a wall or maybe even your desk? Using your thighs as a "desk" for your laptop, this move is great to get some circulation to those legs, engaging all of the muscles in your lower body. Don't have a laptop? Roll your chair out from under your desk and simply squat while you work! Try it for five minutes when you start getting ansy!
5. PLANK ANYWHERE
Honestly, this is the one move that I can see possibly being a problem in the office (though, it's insane that we live in a society that doesn't actively promote their workers' health), so try at your own risk! Planks are a seriously incredible full-body workout, and they're perfect to help break up all that sitting throughout the day. Have a lunch break? Try squeezing in a 90 second plank! Shit, even a 30 second plank will make me break a sweat!
6. FIDGET? FIDGET.
That's right! Shake that leg, roll those shoulders, shift your weight from side to side, just get that blood flowing! This is a funny one, since fidgeting is probably one of my biggest pet peeves when I'm trying to have a serious conversation with someone (ahem, maybe just my husband), but honestly, any way you can fit in some extra movement? Go for it! Just maybe not nail-biting or nose-picking...
7. TAKE THE STAIRS
I feel like this one has been touted for years, but I definitely recommend taking the stairs over the escalator or elevator anytime you get the opportunity. Obviously, there are exceptions to this suggestion --- I mean, do you work on the fortieth floor of a huge corporate office? Use your better judgement! I know that when I had stairs at our old house, I would set a timer for five minutes, play some music, and break up my workload with a little walk up and down the stairs! Nothin' quite like it to burn that booty!
8. BE OLD SCHOOL
Have something you need to email to Dorothy across the office? Print it out instead and walk it over! Chances are, she'll appreciate having a physical copy of whatever work you're turning in, and you can always offer to email it as well. This way, you can get some movement in!
9. BATHROOM CALF RAISES
Okay, so these aren't specifically designated for bathrooms only, but when I've worked at restaurant jobs, or even just on my computer at the kitchen table, I've always loved this move! I would go to use the bathroom, and while in my own space, I would do a few calf-raises to help relieve stiff muscles. Just stand with your feet hip-distance apart, toes facing forward, and lift onto the balls of your feet, taking your heels off of the ground. Try doing 25-50 of these (they go really quickly!) with your toes pointing forward, and then 25-30 with your heels together and your toes pointing out. Burn, baby, burn!
10. STANDING DESK
Okay, so this one is pretty hot right now -- I mean, my mom even has one -- and I'm using one in this moment, as I write this post! Personally, this is my staple blogging situation. Yes, I do go to coffee shops occasionally to get some work done, but it's usually more distracting than my own home. Hey -- everyone's different! I've come to find that a kitchen bar works best, that is if you can avoid getting distracted by snacks or cleaning, etc. You can also purchase standing desks to go on top of your office desk or kitchen table here.
I hope some of these tips are helpful and easy for you to integrate into your life! I know it seems like a lot, but just choose one and give it a try!
**I'm not a personal trainer or a healthcare practitioner. If you have any sort of health condition, please consult your doctor before trying any exercises. These are things that I personally apply to my lifestyle and have benefitted from.