50 Tips for Keeping Fit at Work
1.Take activity breaks: Set a reminder (Calendar pop up) for 5-10 minutes every hour, 5 minutes out of the chair doing strength work (lunges, dips), 5 minutes stretching.
2. Too embarrassing to do at your desk? 10 pushups in an empty meeting room. Better if you can brave it out though as the attention goes after the initial couple of days and your desk is the place you are most likely to do this.
3. Move all your joints. Rotate your ankles, knees, hips, back, shoulders, wrists, fingers, toes, neck and jaw in all 3 dimensions and full circles depending on the joint. Takes about a minute and can be done before your pushups and squats.
4. Walk up the stairs at least 4 times a day (2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon). Better still run up stairs. Push people out of the way if you have to.
5. Don’t push people out of the way on the stairs – best to walk past.
6. Associate a regular activity with an exercise (set up pull up bars by a printer or a dips bar whilst waiting for a microwave).
7. 10 pushups every time (or every second time) you get out of a chair. 50 a day if you can manage.
8. 15-20 dips on arriving at your desk in the morning and after lunch.
9. Use a small cup for water not a bottle. Means more trips to the water fountain.
10. When you get there if no one is around do some squats.
11. If someone is there make it star jumps. Really, don’t worry what others think. Your health is more important.
12. Get a standing desk. Spend at least half the day standing and pacing.
13. Can’t afford a standing desk? Get a laptop stand.
14. Can’t afford a laptop stand? Get some thick books or work on top of a cupboard for a while. Anything like this works as long as it offers variation of position.
15. Add one of the following to your standing for movement for short periods: a balance board / balance cushion, a mini stepper, a balance dome, a vibration plate.
16. Offset prolonged standing with occasional Indian squats (sitting in a squat position to release hip tightness and help the lower back – very hard for Westerners to do but for 2 million years this was how we sat).
17. Keep some dumbbells or resistance bands by your desk – choose isolation exercises for most discretion (concentration curls, bicep curls). If you can, be bold and blaze the trail by incorporating the full range of exercises.
18. Make the journey to work more challenging (cycle, walk part of it with a weighted bag).
19. At lunchtime go for a walk. The faster the walk the better (walking over 4 mph burns more calories than jogging the same speed).
20. If you can do at least two sessions of HIIT training for 10-15 mins in your lunch hour that is the best (eg. 10 flat out sprints). Studies have shown after burn occurs with high intensity and is better than trying to run steadily for 40 mins.21. Set daily targets – 50 squats to be completed during the day, 50 push ups.
22. Walking outside – 10 lunges or pushups when you walk back in.
23. If possible conduct meetings walking outside.
24. Worried about too much walking? – take a document to review or use it to mull over an intractable work problem. The change of pace and venue often lends itself to mental clarity and breakthroughs.
25. Can’t walk because you can’t leave your computer? – pick up your phone and start dictating. Google Voice and Siri can turn your thoughts to text faster than you can type.
26. Need to be near your desk phone? Switch to a blue tooth headset instead. Technology has tied us to the desk but use it to your advantage to get you mobile again.
27. Set up a pull up bar in a lesser used doorway. Tell yourself you have to do 3 pullups every time you pass under otherwise something bad will happen (leave it vague and menacing in order for the habit to stick). Can’t do a pull up – hang and bring your knees up slowly.
28. Associate an exercise with the coffee machine (Wall sits?).
29. Every bathroom break take a detour (include the stairs).
30. If you can, attach sit up bars to your desk and perform isometric holds leaning back on your swiss ball.
31. Opt to stand at the back of the room in meetings – perform calf raises, which no one will notice. Too easy? Try one legged calf raises.
32. Don’t take the elevator – ever (unless you need to go up 30 floors in which case it is acceptable to get in the lift for the last 2 floors).
33. Sign up to StepJockey and put posters next to elevators to get others to do the same. If you can take others with you on your quest, it is far more motivating.
34. Turn your desk into a desk gym by choosing items that can slide under your desk or fit in your drawer. Look at your desk area and think of how you could adapt it to be more gym like but in a way that make’s sense to your environment.
35. Aid your posture and core strength by sitting on a swiss ball or ball chair.
36. Not sure about a stability ball? Try a balance cushion on your chair. Use this for both sitting and standing.
37. Head off your bosses objections (90% chance their will be none) by saying “I’m going to do some exercises at my desk. Stick with me on this as it will help productivity”. It does help productivity due to increased energy levels.
38. See if you can get team members involved in planking. If you work in a fun sort of office sound a hooter at the start and end of a plank minute (twice a day). If you work in a shop, a bank or somewhere similar, maybe give this one a miss.
39. Work somewhere that encourages this sort of thing? Then ask your boss to set up an Active Room – a room with active workstations involving treadmill desks, bike desk, mini-steppers, balance domes. Have a morning and afternoon session in here rotating gym style around the work stations.
40. Turn a stuffy meeting room into a Table Tennis meeting room. Discussing work during ping pong is surprisingly conducive to improved productivity due to mental focus.
41. Keep a set of hand grips on your desk. When the phone rings pick them up and squeeze for the duration of the call. Swap hands on the next call.
42. Keep a pedal exerciser under your desk. When the phone rings pedal in order to avoid the electrical shut off in your legs. When you put the phone down see if you can remember who and what the call was about whilst you were pedaling and squeezing. Soon though, with a small amount of practise, you build muscle memory so that concentrating and moderate activity is perfectly possible.
43. Stretch often. Leg and back stretches are the best but ideally work top down and stretch your whole body.
44. Watching a slide presentation – flex your stomach muscles every change of slide.
45. Set up a Sit Stand fixed desk – one for sitting, one for standing. Have 2 screens, 2 keyboards. Mail and internet in the sitting screen, specific work items on the standing desk (standing is better for concentration). This forces frequent switches between sitting and standing. Adapting the environment is better than relying on behaviour change (your willpower is like a muscle and it tires).
46. Take away your desk-side bin. Forces you to walk to a central bin.
47. When thinking about posture try to imagine your head suspended from above by a string with your body directly in alignment underneath. Practice this when sitting or standing until it is habitual.
48. Take a few minutes to think about your daily routines. If you do something 6x a day then think of an exercise that suits that frequency. Do something only twice? Choose a difficult one eg. pull ups. Where possible use compound exercises (lunges, pushups) that work multiple muscle groups as the object is the most impact for the shortest time.
49. Try not to worry what others think. All places are different but in general the response will be curiosity and amusement which quickly changes to acceptance.
50. In the northern hemisphere, try to boost vitamin D levels by working outside between April to October. Working outside increases melatonin which will help you sleep better.