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Exercise is great. Exercise has been proven to decrease stress and improve productivity, along with a whole slew of other health benefits ranging from weight loss to cancer prevention. Exercising is one of the best things you can do for your health. That’s why the American College of Sports Medicine as well as the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week in combination with 2-3 days of strength and flexibility training. Moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory activity is the equivalent of taking a brisk walk, you should still be able to talk but will feel slightly winded. Now regardless if you can achieve these recommendations, any amount of physical activity in addition to activities of daily living can still be beneficial to your health. So I want to give you some pointers on squeezing exercise into your busy schedules because I want to see you be the healthiest you that you can be!
To reach the recommendation of 150 minutes of exercise per week you only need to complete 30 minutes of cardiorespiratory exercise five days per week. Now you may be thinking “I don’t have 30 minutes to exercise” but the trick is, you don’t have to do all 30 minutes at once! Instead break that 30 minutes into 10 minute exercise bouts. Start your morning off by taking a ten minute brisk walk, this would generally be about six blocks. Then continue your day by taking a ten minute walk during the beginning of your lunch hour. Complete your day with a ten minute walk after you finish dinner. Now you have achieved your 30 minutes of exercise. The best part is you don’t have to do it alone. Encourage your friend, partner or children to walk with you in the mornings and evenings and if you have a furry friend bring them along too. Establish a lunch-time walking group in your office. Exercising with a partner or group makes it both a social event (away from technology) and provides accountability on those days that you just really don’t want to do it. If you choose to walk alone you can turn it into a de-stressing experience. Try not to answer phone calls, texts or emails during your walks. Try not to think about work or the lawn that hasn’t been mowed in two weeks and focus on being in the moment, appreciating your surroundings and how great this walk is making you feel. I guarantee you will return to work ready to be productive after this short break.
Now let’s sneak in some strength training. While sitting at your desk there are tons of exercises you can do, just Google desk exercises and you’ll be amazed. Some simple ones include doing desk push-ups by placing your hands on the edge of your desk and taking a few steps back and completing 10 push-ups. This will strengthen your chest and shoulders. You can also do dips at your desk. Stand facing away from your desk, place your hands on the edge of your desk and take one step out, you should now be leaning on your arms. Slowly lower your body until you are in a sitting position then raise yourself back up. You should feel these in the backs of your arms try to complete 5-10. Before doing either of these exercises ensure that your desk is anchored in place and can support your body weight. You can also work on strengthening your legs by sitting with one leg extended in front of you and holding it for ten seconds, now switch and do the other leg. Repeat each of these exercises 3 times and you have just exercised at work. If someone comes by makes a comment, just invite them to join you!
My favorite way of sneaking some extra exercise in at the end of the day is by exercising during commercials. You don’t want to miss your favorite shows but you also want to get your exercise in. During commercials try doing crunches, squats (Learn how to squat: find out here), planks, push-ups or jog in place. This can help incorporate extra strength and cardiorespiratory training into your day.
Now that you have some pointers, GET UP AND MOVE!
If anyone has any questions feel free to leave a comment.
By: Sarah Piperato, M.S. Exercise Science