Tips to Stay Fit While at Work – Exercises and Meal Ideas

For those of us who work in an office, the 9-5 grind can put a damper on our fitness routine. Apparently they say “sitting in the new smoking” and with so many of us working like dogs to make ends meet, running in and out of meetings, swallowing down lunch between phone calls and stress levels at an all time high – we all could use some tips on how to stay health and fit while in the office. We put a lot of effort into working out and eating well, but when you are stuck indoors all day, mostly sitting, it can sometimes feel like we are being counter productive to our healthy regiment. Doing a few, or all, of these things will surely help you stick to your goals and feel better, both mentally and physically.

Stay Fit in the Office With Yoga

Yoga is great and while I don’t do it nearly enough, I sure do make an effort to stretch at the office, practice breathing exercises to de-stress and these exercises can easily be done in a conference room, your own office (if you have one) or perhaps your office has a gym you can go to during a quick lunch or coffee break.

Exercise #1 to stay fit in the office: downward dog/cobra

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For the first office workout exercise, I’m going to take a page from yoga. All you need for this exercise is a tiny bit of space where you can be lengthwise on the floor. To start, get in a downward dog position (shown above).

Pedal your feet so that one heel lifts up and the other goes towards the floor. Perform this pedaling action for about 5-10 seconds. You’ll feel a nice stretch from your calves up into your lower back. Next, hold the downward dog with both heels down to the ground as much as is comfortable. Your hands should be right under your shoulders and your feet should be hip-width apart. Leave a slight bend in all your joints (fingertips, elbows, knees). Don’t forget to breathe. Do this for a cycle of five deep breaths.

Now, slowly transition into upward dog position, which looks like this:

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You can also transition into cobra, which is the same as upward dog except your legs and pelvis are completely on the floor. Updog is more advanced, so if you’re new to yoga, stick with cobra. Slowly speed up the transition from downward dog to cobra. Try to do 10-12 transition cycles. If you want more of a stretch in your hamstrings, you can place your feet extra wide.

How does that feel? I guarantee your whole body is buzzing with energy right now. You feel more limber and more energetic. You’re ready to get back to work with laser-like focus, dedication and determination.

Really, if you just do this one exercise throughout the day, that’s all it will take for you to stay fit in the office. Get others in your office to join you. Inspire them to stay fit in the office, too! If you can pack a yoga mat under your desk or behind your office door, that’s even better.

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Exercise #2 to stay fit in the office: Squat it out!

If you want more variety, you can try this next simple exercise. Because you don’t have a lot of time to do an office workout, it’s smart to exercise your large muscle groups. I’m talking about your buns! You’d be surprised how many squats you can get in during a work day if you do 10-20 every chance you get.

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To begin, get off your chair. Next, stick your tush straight back. Your upper back should be at a 45 degree angle. You’re looking straight ahead, not down. Reach your arms out in front of you parallel to the ground. Now, quickly thrust your hips forward and give your buns a squeeze. Repeat 15-20 times. This office workout exercise targets the largest muscles of your body. This will help increase your metabolism more efficiently than if you were to just do some arm curls.

Tip: pack a pair of DynaPro resistance bands to keep your knees in place. Focus on pushing your knees apart so that they don’t fall inward and impact your posture and good form.

Where you can do them and when? I do them anytime I go to the copy machine and am waiting for my paper hot off the printer. I also do a few stretches as well anytime I go to the printing machine. You’re just standing there waiting anyway, might as well get your heart pumping. If I need to stand up from my desk, or if you use a standing desk (which is great also) I will do some pulse squats; tapping my bum to the seat and back up. I also do some squats in the ladies room, lol. You have some privacy to just go into a stall and do 20-25 anytime throughout the day – hey why not 🙂

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Want to make your own DIY standing desk? Check out IKEA who has some pretty good options! Also Amazon has some you can check out here as well. (I love the white color for standing desk to also match the IKEA drawers Helmer set.

Exercise #3 to stay fit in the office: knee push-ups

You don’t have to be a Marine in order to rock out a bunch of push-ups. On the contrary, if you lack upper body strength, simply get down on your knees. The key to getting the most out of a modified push-up is to rock your body weight slightly forward as you’re coming down.

To begin, your hips should be right over your knees. And your hands should be roughly in line with your shoulders. Keeping your elbows pointed straight back, instead of coming straight down, lower yourself while using your knees to rock your momentum forward. If you’re doing it the right way, you’ll probably only be able to do 5-7 push-ups. Try for two to three sets of these push-ups a few times a day. In short time, you’ll notice a big difference in your upper body strength. Don’t feel bad if you have to do push-ups on your knees ladies, I do them that way most of the time and it still gets me sore the next day.

An overhead shot of a bowl of almonds on a bookStay Fit in the Office: Healthy Snacks

In addition to these exercises you can do while at work, it’s important to also stock your desk with good-for-you snacks to prevent you from falling victim to the vending machine. I like to have a stock pile of protein bars, my current favorite are D’s Natural’s No Cow bars (vegan, dairy free and they use natural sugar/stevia instead of sucralose), Quest Protein Bars which are a sweet tooth smasher and high in fiber to keep me full between meals and ANSI Cheesecake Protein bars which are a bit more dense and great when I have no time for a real lunch. I also like to have almonds and cashews to have a handful when I have a hunger attack and Ostrim jerky sticks which are around 80 calories and a good amount of protein in a pinch. I also keep Stevia packets on me at all times for healthier coffee runs or when I want a hot cup of green tea.

Stay Fit in the Office: Conclusion

Of course, there’s a ton more exercises to choose from for a quick, effective office workout. But try just these three exercises first. Remember, consistency is key. And don’t ignore that timer. If something comes up at work that’s urgent and you can’t exercise when the timer beeps, make it up as soon as you can. In no time, you’ll become addicted to these short bursts of activity. And if you think that in order to get in shape, you need to workout for over an hour, the good news is you’re wrong. In fact, research shows that short burst of exercise is better for fat burning! Finally, just remember that in order to keep yourself motivated to do an office workout, it really helps to have others join you.

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the writer and creator of - a blog dedicated to inspiring and helping readers to feel and look their very best both inside and out. I love writing, photography, makeup, fashion and fitness.

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