How to work exercise into your workday

  • Article by: MARJIE GILLIAM , Cox Newspapers
  • Updated: October 12, 2013 - 2:00 PM

Here are some simple ways to find time for movement while you’re at the office.

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One way to get more exercise is to take the stairs every chance you get.

Photo: ARIANE KADOCH SWISA • Dallas Morning News,

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Hate the thought of going to the gym?

Most experts agree that for good health, adults should strive for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise nearly every day, and more if you are overweight. Luckily, this amount can be accomplished in simple ways and in small increments. Whatever daily tasks need to be performed, there are ways to burn a greater number of calories while completing each one.

Everyday chores around the house can burn a significant number of calories. Washing windows, mopping, sweeping, dusting and making beds all count toward fulfilling daily exercise requirements. In just 30 minutes, scrubbing the floor burns 129 calories, sweeping 112, dusting 85, washing windows 102 and vacuuming 119, based on a 135-pound person. The higher the body weight the greater the number of calories burned per minute.

But what if you’re stuck behind a desk all day?

Unfortunately for many people, the workplace reinforces a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for hours on end noticeably increases sluggishness and fatigue, hardly inspiring a trip to the gym. Lack of activity also tends to increase calorie consumption throughout the day. A candy dish on your desk, vending machines, office parties and fast-food lunches — they are all a normal part of most work environments.

The first tip: Be accountable. Bring a calendar to work. Position the calendar so that it is visible from your desk. Make a quick note each day that you have been successful at being more active. On days when you are unable to adhere to your plan, make a note of why, and then honestly assess whether it is a valid reason or an excuse. Even if you have a desk job, you can take advantage of breaks to get up and stretch.

Strengthen leg muscles

Do a few simple squats, getting up from your chair and sitting down again without using the armrests. To strengthen the midsection, sitting toward the front of your chair, lean back, keeping both feet on the floor until you feel your abs tighten, pause for a few seconds and return to an upright position.

Strengthen the upper body

Hold onto the armrests of your chair and try pushing yourself up with little to no use of your legs. Push-ups can be performed standing, using a wall, desk or other sturdy surface.

Thigh workout

For working the back of the thighs, sit toward the very front of the chair, and one leg at a time, bring the lower leg backward until you feel the muscles tighten, as if trying to touch the heel to the rear end. Hold for a count of 10 seconds and repeat, aiming for 10 repetitions per leg. Then, with feet side by side and a right angle at the knees, raise the heels from the floor until you feel the calf muscles contracting, and hold for a count of five, and repeat.

Cardio time

Walking is one of the easiest ways to speed the metabolism and burn extra calories. When at work, use break times to get out and take mini-walks. Three 10-minute walks during the day are manageable for most people, even with demanding schedules. For a 155-pound person, 30 minutes of brisk walking burns an average of 150 calories.

Vary routes

If you are already a walker, try not to get stuck doing the same route, the same number of minutes, the same pace or the same number of days per week. The body adjusts quickly to walking because it is a natural activity. In order to increase fitness and strength and relieve potential boredom, try taking a different route next time you head out, or increase duration, speed or frequency.

Anti-elevator

Take the stairs every chance you get. We all know that taking the stairs instead of using an escalator or elevator increases calorie expenditure, but you can also get nearly twice the calorie burn by taking steps two at a time as you climb instead of single steps.

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