It’s the little things, right? It always is. Getting fit, staying fit and maintaining a healthy body composition is no exception. It all adds up. Moving more throughout the day has tons of real and measurable benefits though. You can increase your energy and alertness, increase productivity, improve cognitive function, decrease hunger and appetite. By increasing the number of the small movements throughout the day you are also increasing your total energy expenditure which will help you maintain your girlish figure and increase the burning of stored body fat. Who doesn’t want that?
So when you are stuck at work all day, either in the office or at home at the computer, it can be a challenge to get your body activated. It really does come down to creating some new habits and behaviors, which are notoriously difficult to get started. But fear not, my friend. I am here to lend a helping hand and set you up with some tricks and tips to help you get some blood pumping through your veins even during the mundane day to day tasks and chores.
One of the easiest and most effective tricks to creating new habits and behaviors is to attach the new ones to some old ones. What you do is take the things you know that you already do and that you’re going to do regardless and tag on something that you want to add. For example: nature WILL call and you will get up to use the restroom. You can add in a simple new behavior like, say, doing 10 squats at the sink after you wash your hands. That’s just a teaser. I have loads more, and better ones, than that. But to make it easier, I am going to break them down into categories based on the actual situations you may find yourself in during the day.
Here we go.
The Commute: Getting to and from wherever you may be going.
This can be to and from home and the office, to and from the copy machine, lunch, bathroom, break room, coworkers, meetings, etc. You get the idea.
- Walk or bike to work.
- Park as far away as you can and walk it.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Take the long way around or an extra lap around to wherever.
- Use the thing on a different floor or further away (like the copy machine, bathroom, vending machines, etc.).
- Short walk? Lunge it out. Or skip, or shuffle.
The Sit: Having your caboose parked and stuck there.
You are in your seat and you are going to be there for a while. It is hard to avoid, so let’s make the best of it. You can set a regularly spaced alarm on your phone to remind you to break the hypnotic stare and move a little.
- Perform regular posture checks. Every so often bring your attention to your sitting position. Make sure that you are sitting tall, core tight, and shoulders back. No slouching or rounding out. Seated isometrics: glute squeezes, ab squeezes, shrugs, etc. Pick a squeeze, hold it for a ten count and repeat for time.
- Make it a party! Toe taps, fist pumps, booty scoots; it all adds up!
Bonus: Use what you have available to give yourself something to play with. For example: put a ream of paper on the floor to tap your toes on and off, get a waste basket to kick-tap, roll a pen with your toes. Get creative!
- Use your wheely chair to add some moves! Grip the desk and pull in and out for an upper body exercise or use your heels to roll in and out to activate your legs.
The Commercial Breaks: This includes any disruption in your regularly scheduled programming such as using the restroom, visiting the fridge, grabbing a beverage, etc. OR any time you have a start or finish point of a task.
- Create a plan to execute a specific exercise for each type of step-away habit. A plan can contain ideas like this:
- Every time you use the restroom you grab 10-30 quick bodyweight squats.
- Vending machine visits include going to the machine on the floor downstairs and jogging back up.
- When you hang up a call, do a lap.
- Every coffee/water refill will include 10-30 wall push-ups.
- Every time you empty your emails you do 10 jumping jacks.
- When you return to your desk from having been walking about, you stand and perform knees up for 30-60 seconds.
Make a plan that suits you and doesn’t cause too much embarrassment. Even better, make it a game with your co-workers.
The Stand: You are standing and probably waiting.
At the copy machine, waiting for your coffee to brew, looking at the board, in a standing meeting; you’re probably going to be shifting your weight and fidgeting without knowing it anyway. But adding a little structure can help you to make the most of it.
- Add wall sits or wall push-ups in 30 second intervals.
- Standing, alternating reverse or lateral lunges for time.
- Standing calf raises, three directions. Go for 10/10/10 reps in toes in, toes straight and toes out positions. Push all the way up to your tippy-toes!
- Stretches! Pull your knees up into your chest to get a glute/ham stretch and then pull your heel to our butt behind you (with your opposite hand on something to balance, if needed) for a quad stretch.
- Balance on one foot and then try the other. Mastered that? Now close your eyes and try. Looking to level up again? Hop it and stick it keeping the opposite knee up. Now, hop over to the other side with eyes closed. Don’t fall!!
The Change-Up: Sitting for a while? Ok, then stand. Standing for a while? Ok, then move around.
Sometimes you just need a change-up. This is a great boredom breaker as well as being good stimulation for your body. You can use a timer for this one too. Maybe set a goal to not be in one position for more than an hour or hour and a half.
- Stand at your desk and talk on the phone or bring your laptop to a high top table to work while standing.
- Get an exercise ball to use at your desk in place of your chair.
Bonus: With an exercise ball you can incorporate a whole other range of movements into your other positions like ab crunch breaks or a more fun bounce/balance to the desk dancing, toe tapping.
“I would always rather be happy than dignified.” said Charlotte Bronte in her book Jane Eyre.
It may seem a bit silly at first. Making choices to improve your quality of life can often turn some heads. But doing some small things that are good for the waistline, make you feel better, improve energy and alertness throughout the day can most definitely help you feel, well, more OK. If all of this adds up to making your work life just a bit more enjoyable, I would be willing to bet that a happier work-you makes for a happier home-you as well. From there, it becomes contagious.
Owner, Well Hello Fitness
Master Personal Trainer/ Sports Nutritionist/ Coach
Kristin Kuykendall is a Master Personal Trainer and Sports Nutritionist. Her credentials are backed by a BFA from Kendall College of Art and Design and further studies in Human Health Sciences from Oakland University.
With a passion for helping people acquire skills to promote the longest possible health span, Kristin has coached numerous clients to feel their best. She has brought this passion to her work as a private nutrition and exercise programming coach, personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and nutritionist. Kristin has been responsible for helping a wide range of clients achieve their individual goals, from competitive athletes to individualized healthy fat loss.
She has personally achieved professional and world standing both as a Physique and Figure bodybuilding competitor. All this while raising kids with her loving husband/partner in this crazy life. When she’s not playing in the kitchen or spending time with her family, you may find her working as a judge and promoter for natural bodybuilding competitions.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.