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6 Un-Awkward Ways to Exercise at Work Without Using All Your Breaks

January 7, 2019

4 min read

Follow these steps to make exercise at work easier.

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Red, gold, and orange leaves swirl through the vibrant landscape. This colorful cornucopia motivates you to throw on a hoodie, step outside, and take a long walk.

The bright shades give way to cold white after winter arrives. You stay inside and celebrate National Pie Day (January 23) and Chocolate Cake Day (January 27) but not National Take the Stairs Day (January 9).

Employ these 6 un-awkward ways to exercise at work without using all your breaks, and you’ll sneak in more activity on the job.

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Moving Could Save Your Life

According to the Sedentary Behavior Research Network, sedentary activities expend minimal energy and are usually done from a sitting or lying position.

A study published in the JAMA Network Open journal says a sedentary lifestyle may have health effects worse than:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease

To put this in perspective, consider the number of annual U.S. deaths caused by:

  • Smoking: 480,000
  • Diabetes: 79,535
  • Heart disease: 633,842

If you work at a desk, you need to find ways to stay active because a sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

How Much Exercise You Need

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers the following exercise recommendations for adults age 18 to 64:

  1. 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, or
  2. 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, or
  3. A mix of moderate and vigorous activity every week.

Now we’ll give you some quick and easy tips for staying active while you’re on the clock.

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6 Un-Awkward Ways to Exercise at Work Without Using All Your Breaks

1. Walk, Run, or Bike to Work

You might consider this exercise done before and after work, but let’s not get hung up on the rules.

Pros

Cons

  • This could be tough or impossible if you live far away from work.
  • It isn’t safe to walk, run, and bike in extreme weather conditions.
  • You might need to dry off and change your clothes when you get to work, so you’ll need to plan ahead.

2. Pick Up the Pace

When you think about your exercise plan, consider the FITT Principle:

  • Frequency: How often do you exercise?
  • Intensity: How hard do you exercise?
  • Time: How long do you exercise?
  • Type: What kind of exercise are you doing?

Let’s focus on the “I” for a second. There’s no reason to walk like a zombie to and from meetings or when you need to get water. Pick up the pace!

3. Choose Activity Over Convenience

Yes, there’s a restroom right next to your department. No, that doesn’t mean you should use it. Walk to the farthest bathroom to fit in more steps. Remember, there’s a reason for National Take the Stairs Day. Skip the elevator, because stairs act as a healthy form of resistance. Don’t send a billion emails. Opt for more face-to-face interaction that puts you on your feet and in motion.

4. Flex at Your Desk

From head to toe, flex each muscle group for half a minute:

  • Shoulders
  • Biceps
  • Pectorals
  • Abs
  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves

You may not burn tons of calories doing this, but you’ll increase your activity. If you need to relieve soreness, try these simple seated stretches.

5. Raise Your Hand

By “raise your hand,” we mean “volunteer.” If something needs to be moved to or from your department, raise your hand to lift and haul. If you and your coworkers need caffeine, raise your hand for that mid-morning coffee run.

You get the idea. Your coworkers will see you as someone who steps up to the occasion, and you’ll fit more steps into your day. Everyone wins!

6. Use Your Breaks (Bonus)

We labeled this as a “bonus” step because we don’t want you to think we’re cheating. We’ve all had a day where the pace doesn’t let up. In those instances, the idea of exercise escapes your mind and crawls out the nearest window as you stayed glued to your seat.

If you’re allowed two 15-minute breaks and a longer break (30 minutes to an hour), you have plenty of time to make up for inactivity caused by crazy deadlines and work piled sky-high.

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