7 Tips: Work Fitness Into The Workday - InformationWeek
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7 Tips: Work Fitness Into The Workday

Get up, stand up! The human body wasn't designed to sit for hours at a time, so sneak these moves into your workday.

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Heads up: While you're parked at your desk sipping coffee and munching cronuts, your body is going to seed. As you probably learned long ago, the human body evolved to hunt and gather, not waste away while you stare at a glowing screen all day long.

But don't let the lethargy of office life get you down. There are many ways to burn calories and stay reasonably fit even when you can't hit the gym or run every day. Here are seven ways to work a little fitness into your workday.

1. Standing desk: Get off your duff. Medical studies have shown that prolonged periods of sitting are bad for you, and that a standing desk can reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other serious ailments. A trip to the gym won't counteract a day's worth of sitting, and a standing desk forces you to move and balance your body more, burning more calories as a result.

[While you're getting physical, why not get organized, too? Read 10 Home Office Organization Helpers.]

2. Stability ball as a chair: If you must sit, why not build your core at the same time? A stability (or exercise) ball requires you to engage your abdominal muscles for balance, which in turn improves balance and posture. But be aware that a standard stability ball doesn't provide support for your lower back and arms, which can result in back pain and fatigue. One solution is a fitness ball chair ($55 and up online) with frame for lower-back support.

3. Exercise at your desk: Don't let a cramped workspace or cubicle stop you. Check out this Washington Post animated slideshow, which provides great examples of simple movements that burn calories, work muscle, and elevate the heart rate. One caveat: You might get some strange looks doing some of these moves, such as the desk pushup or jump squat.

4. Walk more: If stability balls, standing desks, and jump squats are verboten in your office, try getting out of your chair and moving around every 30 minutes or so. Take a 15-minute walk at lunch. Climb the stairs instead of riding the elevator. (Within reason, of course -- hiking up 50 flights might not be such a great idea.) FYI: The American Heart Association's National Walking Day encourages workers to don sneakers and walk at least 30 minutes during their workday.

5. Elliptical device: This under-the-desk solution is a stealthy way to burn calories -- unless you perspire a lot, that is. A compact elliptical trainer ($80 and up) from Stamina, Cubii, and other fitness equipment vendors fits inconspicuously under the desk. And ScienceDaily reports that, according to a Penn State College of Medicine study, it can help counter weight gain.

6. Hand weights or resistance bands: When your hands are free -- maybe during a break or when you're watching a (work-related) video -- why not do a little body sculpting? Light dumbbells or a resistance band should do the trick, as Prevention's 10-minute workout program illustrates. You might not get ripped like an action hero, but over time you'll tone muscles.

7. Stress ball: This may be the simplest exercise option of all, albeit the one with the fewest measurable health benefits. By squeezing and kneading a stress ball ($4 and up), you'll ease tension while strengthening the muscles in your hand and wrist. A stress ball is also a good way to fight the effects of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

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Jeff Bertolucci is a technology journalist in Los Angeles who writes mostly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Saturday Evening Post, and InformationWeek. View Full Bio

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nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
12/24/2014 | 3:19:38 AM
Standing
I have been using stress ball for quite some time now and it is really effective. All these tips seems to be really effective as stress relief but standing desk gives me a feeling that I might have proved to be good for health and better than sitting for extended time but does it affect productivity.
freespiritny25
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freespiritny25,
User Rank: Ninja
12/23/2014 | 2:29:19 PM
Re: 7 Tips: Work Fitness Into The Workday
These are great tips. Fitness is so important to stay healthy. I tend to watch my diet closely and walk during my lunch break every day. It is so easy to become sedentary and it really does take a toll on our health and well being. 
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
12/17/2014 | 3:16:59 PM
Re: Walk
I think these are great tips.  Current work habits do put a tremendous stress on the body specially on the back and eyes.  I try to take a break from the computer as least once a week.  It really relaxes me and prepares me for a long week on looking at the screen all day.  If companies could provide exercises class as you pointed out, it will an amazing idea.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
12/17/2014 | 6:38:33 AM
Standing desk
Count yourself lucky if you can have a standing desk. I sit in a cube next to a wall where the outlets are just four inches above the desk. In order to work properly standing up the desk would need to be raised more than that, but not as much as it would be when mounted above the outlets.

I do take walks during lunch break if I get to it, but that barely compensates the work stress. We now got 20% R&D time like Google had it...that really only means that we have to do 100% of what we did before plus the 20% of projects of mandated creativity. And all that with still lousy four weeks paid vacation and just 8 holidays. Why can't we have work hours like the folks in Europe? 35 hour week with six weeks paid time off and 16 holidays? Maybe by then my workweek would cut back down to 50 hours instead of 60 or more. And maybe then I get a pocket of time to exercise.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
12/16/2014 | 11:48:13 PM
Re: Walk
I was kind of amazed when I saw this, too. I'll bet you could really work up a proper sweat with it and get some real exercise. One employee benefit that ought to be available for everyone is a shower stall at work. Instead of sugar loading ourselves at lunch, you could get in a good 20 minutes of exercise, take a quick shower, and still have time for a fast cup of coffee and a snack at lunch, an then put in an energized afternoon - AND not have to go to the gym after work.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
12/16/2014 | 9:32:52 PM
Re: Walk
@Technocrat I put my weight behind your suggestion that stability ball should be left at home :). I think that most of the suggestions are really workable and can be adopted at workplace but I think if you walk proplerly and control your diet you will not be needing other fitness thoughts. Thats my practcal experience.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
12/16/2014 | 7:18:06 PM
Re: Walk

These are some really good tips Jeff, funny when I was younger I never thought about having to stay fit, but as I age it is surly is something to make an effort to do.   I personally like walking. Just enough cardio to get the blood moving.

While I like the suggestions, there is one that really annoys - the stability ball.   I have seen it in the workplace and it is usually just a conversation piece/ toy for the owner.

Please do everyone a favor and leave them at home. 

ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
12/16/2014 | 3:26:34 PM
Re: Walk
They manufacture these under-desk ellipticals or treadmills, so someone must be using them -- has anyone seen one out in the wild? I just can't imagine using one and getting anything done.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Author
12/16/2014 | 2:14:36 PM
Re: Walk
@tjgkg blood pressure is also largely a function of diet, as well as genetic tendedency.  How long is your 20 train commute?
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
12/16/2014 | 2:03:51 PM
Walk
I take six trains per day to get to work. That means not only do i walk, i run a lot to catch the trains! Also i go up and down the station stairs quite a bit. It is certainly good but i would like to lose about 20 pounds. It is hard to do. But at least my blood pressure is down.
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