Exercise at Your Desk
Memo: This at-work workout can help fit fitness into your schedule
By Jean Lawrence
Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
These days, it seems like everyone is working more hours and using the old "no-time-to-exercise" excuse more than ever. But what if you could actually work out at work?
While you won't get to the Olympics this way, you can do stretching, muscle-strengthening, and even short stints of aerobic exercises right at your desk (or maybe in a vacant conference room or stairwell). After all, doctors say any amount of exercise helps -- the benefits are cumulative.
"We are made to move, not sit at a desk 12 hours a day," says Joan Price, author of The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book. "As ergonomic as your desk or chair may be, sitting produces back pains, headaches, and listlessness. You become less productive."
Not to mention less ... er, thin. The U.S. surgeon general recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week. Yet most Americans don't approach this level of activity. You know who you are: You are the woman who's so stiff when she gets up from her desk that she walks like a robot for the first few steps. You are the man with repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. You are the person who vies for the "rock star" parking place closest to the door.
But come on -- can you actually go beyond working out the kinks and get some meaningful exercise in your cubicle?
Kelli Calabrese, MS, an exercise physiologist and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise, says yes. Calebrese believes in 60-second or 10-minute bursts of aerobic exertion. "This is cardio -- if you get in your [target] heart rate zone," she says.
Calabrese says that improving your heart rate variability -- your heart's ability to jump from resting to "pumped" -- has been shown to increase longevity and decrease heart disease risk.
While you shouldn't give up on your home or gym exercise routine, you can certainly supplement it with exercises done at your desk (and, on those extra-long workdays, it's much better than doing nothing.) Here are a few aerobic tricks to try during your next break between tasks:
Want Something Less Breathless?
Afraid the phone will ring and you'll sound like a lion is chasing you? Price's book has more than 300 less dramatic -- but equally beneficial -- exercises. "I call these fitness minutes," she says.
Some strength-building suggestions:
Reach for the Sky