Hack Your Workplace For Movement
We’re Human and We are Designed to Move
We need to move!. Movement is a nutrient that our bodies and minds needs to stay healthy.
In other words, unless you have a real medical condition, you should be doing THIS
and NOT this
Technology has taken away our need for movement to get through our day. However, our biological need for movement has not changed.
Before we became a technology centric society, movement was easy for us. Unless we worked one of those factory jobs that made us stand in one place on a production line, most people moved enough during their daily activities that they didn’t need to worry about exercising.
Even accountants, who are very sedentary today, used to work standing up. Don’t “sit down” on the job was a real expression. What does that even mean anymore?
In today’s western culture we’ve seen an explosion of crossfit gyms, fitness centers, home gyms and tons of other ways to stay in shape. This is a good thing. The only problem with is the reason WHY the need for these has exploded.
We are now more sedentary than ever before. Even though we may try to get to the gym a few times a week or even every day, this is not enough movement to reverse the negative effect that our sedentary lifestyle has on us.
One of our main goals here at Eris Fit is to help people to make the most of their biology while still working in office environments. Corporate lifestyle hacking is a new term describing how to design your corporate lifestyle into one you actually want to live. While most gurus say you have to create passive income and become an entrepreneur to create your own lifestyle, we argue it can and should be done in the place you already work. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur working from home, but everyone can exercise some control over the environment they work in every single day.
To begin hacking your environment to best suit your needs you are going to have to start thinking outside the box. Here are a few tips to get started with.
- Take a Break every single hour. DO NOT wait until lunch to do all your movement. We now know that frequent movement, as in every hour, trumps massive movement that occurs all at once.
- Take the stairs. Everywhere! Checking into your hotel room? Don’t immediately head for the elevator. Ask for the stairs. I’ve only stayed at one hotel ever that didn’t allow me to use the stairs.
- Park farther away from the office and walk. Stop circling, trying to find the closest spot. Park the furthest away that works for you and walk into the office. Take that time to do some deep breathing, get some sun on your skin and pay attention to how you feel.
- Take the long way to the bathroom. Take one of those 5 minute movement breaks at the top of the hour and wind your way to the bathroom rather than heading straight there.
- Exercise outside during your lunch break. Outdoor exercise is far better than indoor. If possible, get outside, exercise, and get your vitamin D and Vitamin S (We’re making the claim that Sunshine is a nutrient). I bring a kettle bell to work with me. I’ll either walk, run, or grab the kettlebell and head to the park to do my workout.
We mentioned this before in our article on standing desks, but I can’t stress it enough. GET OFF YOUR BUTT!
Prolonged sitting turns off your fat burning enzyme and
- significantly drops calorie burning
- decrease HDL (the good) cholesterol
- increases risk of type II diabetes
Sitting is the new smoking, but just standing in one place all day isn’t much better.
While standing is far superior to sitting, we still need to MOVE rather than just stand in one spot all day long.
Standing desks are a great start, but its not enough. To really offset the effects that sitting or standing takes on your body you need to move.
Herman Miller ergonomists claim that your best posture during the workday is your next posture.
Take Movement Breaks
Whether you sit or stand at your desk, you need to take as many movement breaks as possible throughout the day.
Make it a goal to move around for a few minutes every 30 or 60 minutes. Set a timer if you need a reminder, but listen to your body as well. If you are sitting and a certain part of your body starts to feel discomfort, then get up and walk around for a few minutes. Likewise, if you are standing and start to get stiff or feel discomfort, then move.
While it may look a little silly, you can also use these little breaks to do some yoga, pushups, jumping jacks or any other type of movement. When it comes to my health and longevity, I can deal with a few funny looks and raised eyebrows. You may even get other people to overcome their awkwardness and start doing it themselves.
Yes, Thaddeus has been known to get down and do 20 “hindu” pushups at his desk in the corporate office, down dog and up dog and even swing a kettlebell while on conference calls (watch out). So far, no one has complained, but many have actually said they wish they could do the same. Most people are still too fearful of looking strange at work to join in, yet they want to!
One of our biggest goals is to make movement practices mainstream in the office. Can you help us? (Send of pictures and ideas of what you do at work for movement – chris at erisfit.com)
Simple Exercises To Do At Your Desk
Taking movement breaks is a great start, but there are also some ways to get some movement in while you are stuck at your desk. Here are some exercises that don’t require any equipment and will go relatively unnoticed by your co-workers.
- Wrist Exercises
- Place both hands on your desk in front of you with you fingers separated as much as possible and facing away from you. Then lean forward until you feel the stretch and hold there for 10-20 seconds and release. Do this 5-10 times breathing deeply the whole time.
- Turn your hands around so that your fingers are now facing towards your body. Make sure to keep your fingers spread as much as possible. Then, lean back until you feel the stretch. Hold for 10-20 seconds then release. Do this 5-10 times making sure to take deep breaths the whole time.
- Shoulder Shrugs – pick up your work bag or laptop bag and do some shrugs.
- Shoulder Rolls – stay loose and mobile. Roll forward and back while taking a break.
- Neck Rolls
- Chair Dips – make use of that chair and do some dips on it.
- Calf Raises – Thaddeus likes to do 180 raises a day in 1 big session. While standing and working, do 60 raises with your toes straight forward. Then do 30 toe taps with first the left then the right foot. Now do 60 raises with the toes pointed in, followed by the 30 toe taps per foot. End with 60 calf raises with the toes pointed out. Calf muscles respond well to high reps.
- Squats – put on your backpack and do some full depth squats or just slowly crouch up and down.
- Lunges – static hold lunges for 1 minute or more can really work the legs during an otherwise sedentrary day.
- Balance Board – we like this board off Amazon for standing on as often as we can at our desks.
- Hand Grippers – like these Captains of Crush are perfect for building a strong grip and handshake and also can be used to perform isometric holds (contracting muscles against a force in a static hold). These types of exercises have actually been shown to lower blood pressure!
Greasing The Groove
To get better at anything, you need to practice it over and over again. Getting stronger and in to better shape is no different. You may not think that strength is something that needs to be practiced, but it is. Former Soviet Special Instructor the man consider the father of the kettlebell here in the west says that
Strength is a skill.
One of the way to build this skill is through “greasing the groove.”
This concept basically implies that by doing an exercise or movement more often that with a normal workout and with less reps and weight, you teach your muscles to fire more efficiently.
To be honest, there are many times that I want to get in a hard workout but am just too busy. This used to make me feel like I was neglecting my fitness, but since I have been “greasing the groove,” I don’t feel like that.
Greasing the groove is a great fit to a corporate lifestyle where you may not be able to get to the gym every day and works great as part of your movement breaks.
Jimmy Sonni, managing editor at the Huffington Post, keeps a kettlebell by his desk for greasing the groove. At first he would get some weird looks, but now they don’t give it a second thought.
All you have to do is pick an exercise (or a few), that you want to get better at and then perform that exercise several times a day at low reps and/or weight.
Right now I use pull-ups, push-ups and kettlebell swings as my greasing the groove exercises and sometimes throw in dips and squats. While working, I make it a point to do 10 push-ups, 5 pull-ups and 5 kettlebell swings at least once every hour.
Every time I take a movement break I do 10 push-ups. Every time I leave the office to go to the bathroom or get something to drink, I do 5 pull-ups before getting back to work, and every time I get off of a phone call I do 5 kettlebell swings.
Just tailor this to your own needs and I promise you that you will get in to better shape quickly and not feel as bad if you miss your workouts.
Set Up Your Office For Success
If you have the option of working from a home office, the sky is the limit with what you can do. I have a pull-up bar installed in my home office that I can attach my TRX to. I also have a kettle bell and resistance bands tucked away.
These four things allow me to get the best workout possible in between phone calls or typing on the computer. Sometimes when I’m on a conference call I even put my phone on mute and do some exercises while listening to the person talking. I can even put my laptop on a little wheeled cart in front of my pull-up bar and hang by one arm while surfing the web or reading e-mails.
This is where things get a little more difficult. Most offices aren’t set up for movement and you may get some uncomfortable looks if you start doing pushups or other exercises in front of your desk. But don’t let that stop you!
One of the easiest ways to get a good workout at the office is through the use of resistance bands. You can check out our article about them here. These things are so lightweight and portable that you can leave a set in your desk drawer or bring them to work every day in your bag.
The whole idea here is to get creative and think outside the box. Until more companies start to recognize the benefits of a movement culture inside the office, it will be up to you to figure out creative ways to do it (with a little help from your friends at Eris Fit).
Another easy way to get some exercise at work is to take your lunch break outside in a flat open area where you can move, or an empty room with some open space. Just get out and move. Imagine yourself as a kid again and just jump around, bear crawl, do some pushups or do some yoga. Just do whatever your body feels like doing. We like to do bear crawls and crabwalks, sprints and pushups, with as little clothes as possible during the summer. In the winter, we usually just walk or run.
- Bring Resistance bands and use them at your desk or on your lunch break
- Ask to have a pullup bar installed
- Get up every single hour and do something
- Keep a kettlebell in your car, or better yet, your filing cabinet (like Thaddeus does)
- Bring a set up hand grippers in your work bag
- Use a Standing Desk
- Do bodyweight exercises on phone calls and while typing
- Take the stairs
- Park farther away
- Take advantage of workplace fitness classes at lunch, before work or after work
- Get outside during the day and do as much movement as possible under the sun