Exercise on the Job

by Sherry Ballou Hanson

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Frugal Fitness

Between family and job, who has time to go to the gym? And health club memberships cost money, a complete waste if you don't go. You have to spend eight hours a day at work, so use that desk to firm your chest. Your chair can help you tone a sagging rear and firm up the abs. Walls are great for modified pushups. And don't forget that commute to work.

If you are not going out for lunch, you're saving on meals and getting exercise. No gym fees and you are getting paid for your time!

Office Work:

Work that desk the no-sweat way by performing modified pushups five times during your break from the computer, five more at lunch, five in mid-afternoon. Stand two feet from desk, feet together, hands on desk and shoulder-width apart. Keep back straight and slowly bend elbows so head leans toward desk, return to upright. This is great for arms, shoulders and chest and helps combat that computer hunch.

Hit the books for a terrific lateral lift that will sculpt arms and shoulders. Stand with a book or your kid's picture in each hand. Slowly raise straight arms sideways to shoulder height, pause, and lower. Do three sets of five during the day.

Crunch abs in your office chair and avoid the belly roll; dieting won't firm your middle. Move your buttocks toward front edge of chair, lean back, grip the edge of chair seat. Slowly lift legs off floor while bending knees so knees rise and feet come off the floor. Aim for three sets of five during day.

Leg work in your chair firms your quads (front of thigh). Sit in chair, lift right leg out in front and slowly draw three large circles in air to right; now to left. Repeat with left leg. Do five sets with each leg three times each day.

Wall work isn't just for rehabbing your home! This quickie can help undo what eight hours in a chair does to your butt. To firm buttocks and hamstrings (back of thigh) stand facing wall, hands on wall at chest level, elbows down. Lift right leg off floor behind you while keeping it straight (it won't lift very high). Hold five seconds; repeat with left leg. Again, five each leg, three times during the day.


Neck Stretches help relieve tension that accumulates in the neck and shoulders from sitting in one position. Stand with arms at sides and slowly turn head to right and hold ten seconds, turn head to left. Do three each side.

Shoulder stretches can be done anywhere and feel good. Assume the same position as above and slowly lower right ear toward right shoulder and hold ten seconds. Repeat with left ear and try for three on each side.

The back stretch feels great. Sit on edge of chair, feet on floor and extend arms overhead. Slowly bend forward from waist until hands touch floor and you feel the stretch in your lower back. Hold ten seconds, and then rise up slowly. Do three.

In Your Car:

Squeeze your buttocks together while sitting, hold several seconds, release. Repeat six to eight times. You can do this periodically while driving or waiting for a traffic light.

Gut suckers will help you strengthen your abdominals and relieve tension in the lower back at the same time. Press lower back into car seat while tightening abs. Hold several seconds. Do periodically while driving.

Work forearms and pectorals (chest) while stopped at a traffic light or waiting for your kid at school. Grip steering wheel tightly, arms at the nine and three o'clock position. Press arms inward. Hold several seconds. Do several.

Park that car at the end of your parking lot when you reach your destination if you are in a safe place. Get out, stretch arms overhead, raise your chin, take a deep breath and hold. Now walk briskly into your office or meeting site, knowing you've got the jump on those sluggards who arrive at work without first waking up.

Take advantage of any opportunity at work to get up and move around. Do the office errand down the street or on another floor. Don't sit around during your coffee breaks. Stand periodically when you have been sitting for long periods. Take care of yourself!

Take the Next Step:

  • Make health and exercise a priority in your life. Which of these simple exercises can you do?
  • Find many great articles about health, fitness, and excercise in our "Health" section.

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