Most of us complain that we don’t have enough time to get to the gym, or that we’re too tired by the time we get home at night. So here’s the good news: there are plenty of ways to get and stay fit outside of the gym. As you already know, the two big areas of exercise are cardio and strength training, both of which you can do at home and at work.
The worst thing we could do for ourselves physically is to sit all day, which is exactly what most of us do at work. We’re tired when we get home in the evening, so we tend to sit more while we watch TV. The best thing we can do to counter all the sitting is to get on our feet and get moving. I’m not talking about a lunchtime run. I’m just talking about simply moving, in whatever form: talking a walk during a break, climbing stairs, stretching in our office or cubicle. It doesn’t matter how we move, as long as we do.
Below are some tips to help you stay fit outside of the gym:
1. Cardio: Climb the stairs. Walk up and down the stairs at work for just 2 minutes. Then go back to your desk or climb some more stairs if you feel like it. Do this until you feel a mild burn in your legs (always a good sign!), then return to your desk.
2. Strength Training: Do 10 squats a day. You can do these right at your desk and they take less than 2 minutes to do 10 slow squats. Be sure to use the proper form: bend your knees while you stretch your arms in front of you for balance, arch your back slightly while you stick your butt out, then straighten back up to a standing position. If you use a chair, squat just low enough to touch the chair before returning to a standing position.
3. Isometrics: These are exercises where you contract your muscles without visibly moving anything else. One example is holding your palms together as hard as you can. Hold for 30 seconds and relax, then do it 4 more times. Another exercise is to tighten your abdominal muscles for 15 seconds then relax. Repeat 5 times. Clenching any muscle is a strengthening exercise, so practice squeezing various muscles then relaxing—it really works! You can do this right at your desk and even in meetings—just be sure not to strain yourself or you’ll get some concerned looks from your coworkers.
4. Stretch: Before dinner (and a full stomach), take 2-3 minutes to stretch out and relax. Stretching loosens your muscles by lengthening them, and also helps you to relax. One stretch is to bend at the waist and let your arms hang down as close to your toes as possible. Take long, deep breaths and relax into the stretch, which you’ll feel in your legs, back and shoulders. Don’t bounce while stretching—this can cause an injury. Stretch in any direction that feels good—just be slow and don’t push into the stretch. You can do this while cooking, talking on the phone or watching TV.
5. Strength Training: Pick up a heavy book (hard cover works best) and hold it out in front of you with both hands. Raise it up to your chin, and then over your head, then back to your chin and forward. Use one hand if you can, and do this exercise 5 times per arm. You can also do bicep curls with a book while watching TV.
6. Cardio: Do 10 jumping jacks at each commercial when watching TV. Do this three times, then relax.
Try out some of these suggestions to get your blood flowing. Just by integrating some basic strength training and a little cardio into your day, you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel and how well you sleep!
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