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Get fit at your desk with 'easy office workout'

  • Article by: Wina Sturgeon
  • McClatchy News Service
  • April 1, 2013 - 7:21 AM

You’re sitting at your desk in the office, at war with your body. Your mind is working on performing your job, but your muscles are silently screaming “Work me! Work me!” If there was a gym down the hall, you’d make a dash for it.

You don’t have to ignore that subtle twitchiness your body uses to let you know it wants to be exercised. Nor do you have to wait for hours until you can do something about it. You can get a good workout right in your office. Everything you need can be stored in a backpack that fits under your desk.

Only three pieces of equipment are required: a pair of dumbbells, a set of ankle weights and a 12-foot length of rubber tubing or bungee cord elastic. Choose your preferred poundage for the weights and dumbbells, as well as the resistance of the tubing or cord (both of which can be found at outdoor or athletic shops).

The Easy Office Workout differs from a gym session because you don’t do continuous sets. You do a quick set of five to 10 reps, then get back to work. A little later, you do another set, usually of a different exercise. Keep pounding in a set here and there during the day. There are several reasons why this method of training is beneficial.

First, there are numerous scientific studies showing that strength and fitness develop better — and safer — when physical work is done continuously throughout the day rather than crammed into a short period of intense exercise surrounded by little or no physical work before or after. Many athletes already use this style of training with the “two-a-day” or “four-a-day” method of conditioning.

It also makes more sense to spread the physical work out, so that the rested muscles can work at their max for each set, rather than putting out less effort because they’re already exhausted.

Now for a few of the exercises in the Easy Office Workout.

Dumbbells

Start with the most obvious: use the dumbbells for biceps curls. Place a dumbbell on each side of your chair. Pick up the weight with one arm, then with the other. This is a two-in-one exercise. Leaning sideways to pick up each weight works the obliques, the core muscles of the side between the abs and the spinal erectors of the back. Once you are sitting upright, curl the dumbbell to the top of your shoulder and repeat for five to 10 reps.

Ankle weights

The next exercise is good because you can do it without co-workers noticing. Fasten the ankle weights around your ankles, then alternate lifting each leg from a sitting to an outstretched position. This leg extension works the quads and hamstrings.

Here’s how to use the ankle weights to work the calves: Drape a weight over each shoulder, then stand on your toes as high as possible. Hold for a beat, then stand down. You can increase the resistance, and your coordination, by holding the dumbbells with the ankle weights balanced on your shoulders.

Tubing/bungee

Now for the tubing squat, which you may wish to do in a private area of the office. Tie a loop in each end of the elastic and slip the loops over your feet. Squat down and grab the tubing or bungee cord three or four feet from the loops. Slowly stand up, then squat down again. The resistance will work the entire lower body.

Use your body weight

For the upper body, do desk pushups. Stand with the legs three to four feet away from the desk. Lean forward to place both hands on the edge of the desk and then straighten out your body. Lower your upper body to your hands, then push it up until your arms are straight. Add more resistance by fastening the ankle weights around your waist, using safety pins to connect the ends together.

More tips

These five exercises are a good starting point. You can do one or even several sets every half hour. Aim for at least five sets of each exercise during the work day. Each set will provide a quick mental break that will help keep you more alert and productive, while working off calories and building strength. It may be an easy office workout, but the results will make you proud.

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