Try Adding Exercise to Your Office Workday

Your time at a health spa can recharge your body and reset your mind to living healthier.

Then you have to go back to the real world, whether you’re working from home or in an office 9 to 5, you’re probably sitting at your desk most of the day. Your resolve to increase your exercise routine is beginning to fade as you just can’t seem to fit it into your schedule.

One way to fit at least some of your exercising around your work schedule is to do limited to moderate exercise throughout the workday.

The U.S. surgeon general recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t come anywhere near that level of activity. Exercise physiologists and fitness experts suggest that getting at least some activity into an otherwise sedentary office job can bring significant health benefits.

Keli Calabrese, an exercise physiologist and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise, told WebMD that she advocates 60-second or 10-minute bursts of aerobic exertion. “This is cardio — if you get in your [target] heart rate zone,” she said. Improving your heart’s variability – its ability to jump from resting to “pumped” — has been shown to increase longevity and decrease heart disease risk.

Calabrese’s ideas include doing jumping jacks or running in place for 60 seconds. Sit at your desk and pump both arms over your head for 30 seconds, then rapidly tap your feet on the floor, mimicking a more aggressive football drill, for another 30 seconds. Even taking the stairs can boost your cardio, especially if you take them two at a time.

A less noticeable but still effective workout is just to walk more.

Research suggests people should walk around 10,000 steps or about five miles per day. Yet the average American walks just a tad more than 6,000 steps or three miles in a day. If you walk fewer than 5,000 steps per day, you fall into the category of sedentary. An increase of only 2,000 to 2,500 steps per day can lead to modest improvements in weight and blood pressure.

You can walk during lunch to increase your walking mileage, or simply park farther from the office, get off the bus or train a stop early, and use the stairs more often. Rather than meet someone at a conference table, arrange a walking meeting.

The important thing is to get off your chair and do something. You will likely improve your health in incremental steps, and even encourage yourself to take the time you didn’t think you had to take even bigger steps in a weekly exercise routine.