Move, stretch, take breaks – does that sound like a workout? Does it sound like work? The office may seem like an odd place to work out, but you spend most of your day there. Exercise can keep you healthy, make you more productive and head off workplace injuries. Even short bursts of movement count.
Keep on movin'
At work, your best fitness option is brisk walking that raises your heart rate. A 30-minute walk can be part of a lunch hour, but there are other ways to add steps:
To and from work: Walk to work, or walk to the train or bus. If you drive to work, park in the row farthest from the entrance. Biking is also an option.
During work: Take the stairs. Don't phone -- walk to a coworker's office and talk face-to-face. Use a fax machine or copier at the far end of the office or on a different floor.
At lunch: If you can't exercise, at least you can walk to your favorite eating spot.
Depending how comfortable you are around your coworkers, you can do simple strength training exercises at your desk:
Do a basic crunch in your chair. Pull your belly button in and up; pull your chest down.
Grasp your chair's armrest and push yourself up, using your arms to work the triceps.
Do pushups without using the floor. Place your hands on the edge of your desk and your body at a 45-degree angle to the ground.
At the copier, lift one foot and then the other behind you to work your hamstrings. Standing on your tiptoes engages the calves.
Don't be desk-bound
It's not natural to sit at a desk for hours at a time. Add poor posture -- shoulders rolled forward, neck muscles pinched, arms at an awkward angle -- and it can be hazardous.
Some of the most common work-related injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome and lower back injuries, often result from working without a break and holding the body in poor positions.
Take breaks at least once an hour, even if just for a few minutes. Stand and stretch your arms over your head to loosen your chest and neck.
Stretch to fix poor posture
In a car stopped at a light: Place the back of your head against the headrest. Pull your chin in toward your throat. Lower your shoulder blades and bring them together. Contract your abdominal muscles. This stretches your neck and upper back.
At your desk: Clasp your hands and place them behind your head. Lift your chin so it's parallel to the floor. Open your elbows like wings. This stretches your chest and shoulders.
Why employers are helping
Exercise breaks shouldn't be seen as distractions, but as a way to be more productive.
Companies large and small are starting to agree. Investments in employee fitness range from subsidizing memberships at local health clubs to building full-sized fitness centers on site.
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