It happens all the time, especially in the meeting/event planning world, your day does not go as planned. A meeting ran late, a new meeting was called, a snowstorm hit, a project needed more attention. Being stuck at work…it happens. Whether it’s having to put in long hours, or just a schedule that doesn’t allow gym time on weekdays, you can still squeeze in exercise—no matter where you are.
This topic is top of mind as I am currently participating in a research study through University of Wisconsin Health to reduce my sitting time and incorporate more movement throughout the day. According to research by UW Health, sedentary behaviors (typically in the context of sitting) have emerged as a new focus for research on physical activity and health. When you sit for extended periods, electrical activity in the leg muscles shut off, calorie burning rate drops, enzymes that help break down fat drop, good cholesterol HDL drops, and the levels of metabolic energy expenditures is greatly reduced. Incorporating periodic movement throughout your workday has numerous benefits such as:
- Improved blood pressure
- Improved glucose and insulin levels
- Improved metabolism
- Improved digestion
- Reduces stiffness in legs and joints
- Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers
- Improved mental concentration and energy levels
Here are some ideas to easily incorporate baseline movement into your workday. They can be done all at once, or spaced throughout the day to keep you moving until quitting bell time.
Chair leg lifts
Sit with your back flat against a chair and your right leg stretched straight out with your foot flexed. Lift and lower your right leg, concentrating on the quadriceps muscle to do the lifting. Since you’ll only be using your body weight, try between 15-20 repetitions, then switch to the left leg. Rest and repeat two more times. Repeat the exercise with your flexed foot facing out, concentrating on your inner thigh.
Chair squats and rear leg lifts
Stand behind a chair with your chest lifted, shoulder back, feet straight ahead and hands on the back of the chair. Squat down, as if you were sitting down in a chair, keeping your head straight and making sure not to roll your shoulders forward. Stand back up pushing through your heels. Do 15 repetitions. Then try single rear leg lifts. Stand in the same position, flex your right foot leg straight and lift to the back. Do 15 reps and repeat with the left leg. Take a 30-second break and start again with chair squats. If time allows, complete three rounds.
While they may seem like an old-school exercise, arm circles work! Sit straight in a chair with your back flat against the chair and arms out to the side. With your palms facing down, circle your arms forward making small circles. Try to circle for 30 seconds, then take a short rest and repeat in reverse.
Water bottle curls and kickbacks
Again, sit straight up in your chair. Grab one or two full water bottles (if you only have one, do single-arm exercises; if you have two, work both arms at the same time). To exercise your biceps, hold the bottles with your arms straight down and palms facing out; curl your arms up just past 90 degrees, hold for a squeeze and then lower your arms. Do 15 repetitions, rest and repeat. For a triceps workout, hold the bottles with your palms facing inward and elbows up; extend your arms back. Do 15 reps, rest and repeat.
During the day, remember to get up from your desk at least once an hour and just move around. Incorporate strategies to encourage movement such as standing during your phone calls, taking an extra lap around the office when filling your water bottle, taking the stairs whenever possible or exploring adjustable works stations.