The office space — your “second home” — is more than a mass of file folders, unopened mail, and those pesky sticky notes scribbled with ‘To-Do’ lists. It can be a great workout space! Squeeze in just a 20-minute workout during your lunch hour and you’ll reap benefits that include crushed calories and a hit of endorphins, strength, and energy to blast you through the rest of your day. Here are a few tips to help fuel your midday office workout:
Stash that Gear. Wouldn’t it be great if you could bust out effective, sweat-free workout moves in a three-piece suit? Dream on. To signal your head into workout mode, change into comfortable workout gear. Store a small gym bag in your desk containing workout clothes and sneakers so you can do a quick change in the bathroom. If you don’t have access to a shower facility, it’s a good idea to keep a baggie with travel-size toiletries, some wet wipes and small towels to freshen up so you’ll be squeaky-clean for your post-lunch meetings.
Take the Stairs. Got a nearby stairwell? Use it for a five-minute cardio segment to get the heart rate up and blood moving. Run straight up and down pumping your arms in a natural motion, or jump up and down the bottom step with both feet as fast as you can. No stairwell? Do a brisk walk or jog around the building. You can even use your office space, alternating between 30-second intervals of high-knees and a moderate jog in place.
Use your Body(weight). After you’ve warmed up with some cardio, there are a number of simple moves that can be done with little space and zero equipment. Do one-minute segments of the following exercises: squats, quick wide-stance “football” feet, alternating lunges, squat-jumps, forearm planks, push-ups, and crunches. Repeat this sequence twice to hit nearly every major muscle group.
Talk Yourself on the Ledge. Use a stable ledge in your office space or outside the building for some serious exercise work. No ledge? No problem. You can also use a hard, stable, wheel-less chair. Do one minute sets of step-ups or jump-ups, incline push-ups, or tricep dips. My personal favorite for toning the lower body is to “hover” a static squat above the ledge, keeping the core engaged, for one full minute as your legs sizzle and shake.
Impact versus Intensity. These are two different concepts. Impact refers to the force of your body. With high-impact exercises — running, jogging, and jumping — your body is “pounding” the ground; this puts more stress on the joints, particularly the knees and ankles. With low-impact exercises like walking or climbing, one foot stays in contact with the floor at all times. Intensity refers to difficulty, focus, and power. So, let’s say you’re working out in your office and don’t want to disrupt your office mates with excessive jumping around. You can still get a great low-impact and high-intensity workout by focusing your full energy on each movement. For example, pump your arms through the full range of motion while marching in place, increase the speed of your push-ups, or add resistance to your squats by holding some weights, books, or a water bottle.
Stretch. Stretching is really important after a workout to cool your body down before you resume work. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated. Do a few slow shoulder shrugs, torso twists, runners’ lunges, and slowly roll out your head, wrists, and ankles. Bring your arms over head and take a few deep breaths to re-center and re-energize for the rest of your work day. As a recommendation, do a more elaborate five- to ten- minute stretch at the end of your day to wind down and decompress.