15 Ways to Get More Exercise at Work
You want to have more energy, higher levels of health and lower body fat.
But you work a full time job and find it difficult to get to the gym every day.
When people say, “I want to be healthy,” they usually mean “I don’t want to go to the gym, I just want to look and feel good.”
Well, you don’t have to go to the gym.
The key is to engage in enough activity and movement throughout the whole day, every single day, that you don’t need to go to the gym. Unless you want to build a beach body, in which case, you really do have to lift some weight using a routine to get you there.
Humans have exercised without a gym using everyday movement for millions of years.
It still works.
Here’s what you’re going to do to build a reasonably fit body at work:
- Park FARRRRRR away from work. This is THE perfect time to take a short walk and set your intentions for the day. Walk into work in an unhurried manner. Soak in that all important sunshine into your eyes and skin, which sets your circadian rhythm up for the whole day.
For two years, I parked 4 miles from work. I took my bike off the back of my car, threw on my backpack and pedaled into work each morning. I loved it. I parked my bike, changed my shirt and felt so good about getting in my exercise for the morning. I repeated it on the way home in reverse order. Now that I only go to work when I travel, I just park my car and take a walk around the building (which takes 15 minutes) before heading into work for the day.
- More Walking. Every hour you will be getting up from your desk to move your body. Set a timer or an alarm. This is non negotiable. If you have to, put on a Bluetooth headset and walk and talk. Personally, I put on a podcast and walk back and forth above our manufacturing plant. I usually see 4 other people doing the same thing. I do this for 5-10 minutes. You will be getting up to go outside, get a drink of water or tea or coffee, talk to a colleague on the other side of the office, or you can come join me doing laps on the platform above the plant.
- Yoga is great. If you can find a class at work, take it. If not, then perform these stretches every single day, at least once. Especially if you sit for a living.
- Ask your boss for a treadmill desk. People who use these love them. They get in tens of thousands of steps a day, all while staying in one place. Mark Sisson’s team over at Mark’s Daily Apple almost all use these. I went out and bought a manual (nonmotorized) treadmill and put it under my desk. I intended to use it every single day, but I just stood on it. I moved it to the garage and then sold it. It doesn’t work for everyone, but if you’re one of those who can use it, you’ll probably be healthier than the rest of us.
- Kettlebell swings. That’s right, drop a kettlebell in your filing cabinet. That’s what I do, really. When I’m on a conference call and don’t have to talk for a while, I do some kettlebell swings. If you are asked to stop doing this, just keep it in your car and do some swings in the parking lot on lunch.
- Calf Raises. Based on the advice of national gymnastics coach Sommer, Tim Ferriss was told to do 60 calf raises with both feet pointed straight ahead, followed by a stretch, then 60 more calf raises with both toes pointed in, followed by a stretch, then 60 more calf raises with both toes pointed out. You can do multiple sets of these all day long. Probably you won’t get through one set your first time, but keep practicing.
- Squat Hold. Get up from your chair. Get into a squat position. Hold it while answering emails. Keep going until you can’t hold it anymore and then go ahead and sit back down. My best time is 5 minutes.
- Hand Grippers. Remember those hand grip strengtheners your crazy uncle John used to squeeze that he thought were badass and you just thought were dumb? Turns out they’re great for giving you the best ever handshake. And if you squeeze and hold them in one hand for 2 minutes, then switch hands, hold two minutes, rest 1 minute and then repeat, you just might be able to lower your blood pressure, so says a recent study by NASA. They found that squeezing a device at 30% of their max contraction for 2 minutes could lower blood pressure. My opinion is that I can replicate that just by doing the static hold. At any rate, it gives me toned forearms and a good grip.
- Static body contractions. Squeeze every muscle in your body as hard as you can, make sure everything is tightened. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat as often as you think about it. Some people are able to grow muscle this way using nothing but static holds. It’s impressive.
- Squeeze your butt during your commute. If you drive to work, don’t just sit there. First, you should be listening to a podcast or book on tape to learn something new or at least laugh on your way to work. Second, squeeze your butt. Really hard. And Hold. Keep Holding. Ok, release. Now repeat. When you are tired of that, crush the steering wheel, and hold. Now pull the wheel toward you, really focusing on tensing your back muscles. Now push the steering wheel away from you, and hold it. These movements will make your commute less bad and probably increase you muscle tone.
- Block out Lunch on your calendar Every Single Day. Sure, you might want to eat with a friend or colleague once in a while, and it’ll already be blocked off so no worries. But most of the time you are going to use that hour to go for a run, bike, swim, walk, or lifting session. This will make you more productive, have higher energy after lunch and healthier. I have been doing this for years. I always, and I mean it takes the world ending to miss it, go for a walk at lunchtime. Sometimes my walk is an hour and sometimes it’s 10 minutes. Sometimes I lift weights and then walk and sometimes I bike and then walk. But nearly every single day, I block this off in my calendar and move during this time of the day.
- Get a StandDesk. Yes, sitting is the new smoking. And Yes, standing is the new sitting. You can’t simply stand in one place all day and expect it to replace the ill effects of sitting. So Stand Up, and also move a lot. Get a standing desk. Once you are sitting, you will never likely get up and move about. But standing, you will find it easier to stop and take a break and move your body. You can do what I do and buy an Aeron Stool for your stand desk and now you don’t have to lower your desk ever again. I sit only while eating my lunch. Otherwise, unless I’m sick, I stand.
- The 7 Minute Workout. OK, who doesn’t have time for a 7 minute workout!!! This App will lead you through 7 minutes of exercise proven to be beneficial. I use it outside in the summer on breaks at work. You could sneak away to an out of the way conference room and invite one other person and get a great workout finished in only 7 minutes.
- Bicycle at your desk. This Device allows you to pedal at your desk while sitting. It’s really a great solution, and I’d love to get one of these. But I sit in a stool and not a chair, when I do sit, and wouldn’t be able to use this.
- Take the GD stairs People. If ever there was something that frustrates me more, I can’t think of it. People who wait for minutes to take an elevator up 1 flight of steps. I see this all the time in hotels. I get it when you have luggage. I don’t have any elevators at my office, so it’s not something I think about, but traveling, whether it’s the escalator at the airport or the elevator at hotels, people will line up and wait to be carried a few steps. I bypass all this, get to my room or destination faster most every time, and get some exercise in at the same time. Trust me, our bodies were not meant to be carried everywhere once we left babyhood.
There are infinite ways to exercise at work. But let’s face it. Most of you aren’t going to do anything. If you want to be one of the people who does add movement into their work, then schedule it. Write down what you’ll do that day and schedule it in your calendar. Now you are set up to succeed. Everyone wants to look good naked and no one wants to believe that it takes hard work.
Schedule your movement and your body will thank you.