We know it can be a job in and of itself to squeeze in your workout during the work week, despite best intentions and strategies for success.
But what if you could work out during your 9 to 5?
Now, we’re not talking crunches amongst a sea of cubicles or running around your office’s parking garage during your lunch break. We’ve got some better options in mind that you can incorporate into your work day, regardless of your profession. Try the following simple exercises and see how much better you feel.
Possibly the easiest and most versatile movement — you can do squats just about anywhere! You could even do these in the stall when you’re taking a quick restroom break.
Standing, Incline Push-Ups
Push-ups are a solid, total body exercise, and you don’t necessarily have to drop down to the ground to get ‘em done. Before you wash your hands in the restroom, place your hands on the counter with your arms tight to your ribs, and walk your feet back until you're standing at an incline. You can easily crush a few push-ups before anyone even notices.
This yoga sequence can be easily modified for a small space. Start by raising your arms straight up to the sky for mountain pose, and then bring your arms out wide — bent like goal posts — and gently bend backward for an easy chest expander and backbend. Bring your arms back up overhead for mountain pose and bend at the hips for a forward fold, keeping your knees slightly bent and your arms hanging loose. Rise halfway so that your hands can rest on your thighs with a flat back and long neck, and then fold again. Repeat the whole sequence two more times to complete your Sun A.
Standing Yoga Postures
Speaking of yoga, there are a number of standing postures you can seamlessly incorporate into your routine at work, including mountain pose (as mentioned above). Another example is chair pose, which is a modified squat. For this, keep your arms straight up overhead and your booty all the way back, making sure your knees never go in front of your toes.
Oh, hello, most underrated exercise ever! Walking can be a great way to add movement to your day, especially if you work a desk job. Get those steps in by walking around your workspace every half hour, or use your lunch break to take a walk around the block.
Isometric Core Work
If you work in a more relaxed setting, try bringing a blow-up fitness ball to your desk and use it as your new chair. Sitting on one can be a great isometric core workout, as you are forced to engage your abdominals in order to maintain balance on the unstable ball.
Taking the Stairs
Similar to walking, climbing stairs is a great and highly underrated way to seamlessly incorporate more activity into your daily life. If you work in a building with more than one floor or park somewhere with multiple levels, choose the stairs over the elevator.
If you happen to have a work space with some privacy — like an office, classroom with a door or cubicle with high walls — there are a few other exercises you can incorporate into your day. Though really, you can do these exercises regardless of privacy factors, assuming your manager doesn’t mind and that you’re comfortable with potentially receiving confused stares from colleagues.
You’ll have to drop down to the floor for some of these, but they can be completed fairly quickly and without any other equipment, ensuring you can get ‘em done in no time:
This is an awesome core workout and can be done either on your hands with straight arms or from your forearms. Be sure to keep your back flat and engage your core rather than sinking your weight into your shoulders.
Vinyasa Yoga Transitions
In other words, doing the following movements in a series. Start in a forward fold, followed by high plank, chaturanga (i.e., the yogi push-up), upward facing dog and downward facing dog.
From a high plank position, bring your right knee forward to meet your left elbow. Return to high plank, and repeat with the opposite side. You can either do this slowly for 30 to 45 seconds or at a faster pace for more of a cardio burst.
This Pilates move targets your core and requires you to lay on the floor with your shoulders and head elevated, and arms pumping up and down by your sides while you count your Mississippi’s to 100. It’s a pretty quick exercise, but it does mean you have to feel comfortable getting down on the floor in your work clothes (and that you need the space to do so).
Any of the exercises mentioned here could also be done outdoors in a nearby park or gym during your lunch period, or even while on a 15-minute break. And don’t worry about your coworkers' judgment — you do you, girl!
Joelle is a writer, editor, and registered yoga teacher living in southern California with a passion for celebrating the messiness of life through storytelling. She holds a MA in Journalism from New York University and loves a well-written sentence, brunch, and staying active. To read more of her writing, visit her website www.joellezarcone.com.