Depending on whom you ask, exercise and work are two things that make the ‘I have to, but I don’t want to’ list. Even for those of us who are fortunate enough to enjoy our work and/or our fitness routine, there are some days when we just don’t have the time to do it all. So why not combine the two—exercise while you work?
Now, we’re not talking about sweat-soaked Insanity-style workouts. Rather, we have in mind a slow but steady stroll, a core-building balancing exercise, or something you could reasonably do while reading or typing. Here are a couple of ways some people are taking the gym to work:
Whistle (and Walk, and Pedal) While You Work
Remember that episode of The Office when Dwight swapped his chair for an exercise ball? Dwight actually may have been on to something there. This has become a talked-about alternative; just check the results on Google if you don’t believe me. (Gaiam Fitness and others actually manufacture a sort of office chair-cum-exercise ball stand with wheels; others do a combined product.) Because exercise balls are relatively cheap, this may be an attractive starting point for some. However, sitting on these balls for long periods can be rough on your lower back; experts advise starting with a 10- or 20-minute session and swapping back and forth with your regular office chair. See this Prevention post for more ideas.
Although I like my job, I often find myself getting up from my desk and wandering around the office a bit. It seems to help my ideas flow. For me, something like a treadmill desk would be ideal. These look like the offspring of your basic gym treadmill and a standing desk. The idea is to walk at a slow-to-moderate pace while working. Again, it’s not something you should do all day long. Start with just a couple minutes, as you would with any exercise routine, and work up in speed and duration.
Treadmill desks range in price from $500 to nearly $3,000. If this leaves you with a sense of sticker shock, there are some cheaper under-desk alternatives. These compact machines are designed to sit near your chair, allowing you to pedal, step, or tread while you type. You can find under-desk bikes, steppers, and elliptical machines that retail for around $50 to $200 on Amazon.com.
If you’re really cheap—as in, you want to start with zero investment—check out YouTube for office workouts. These range from quick, two-minute seated stretches to full-body routines that will have you flailing around the office in no time.
Before You Work Out While You Work
Obviously, working out while you work comes with precautions. First of all, get your doctor’s okay. And, unless you work from your home, get your boss’s okay as well. Start slowly if you’re new to exercise, and take your own time.
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There are also a couple of common-sense caveats if you’re working out while transacting business. Your productivity may go down a bit as you multitask, especially if you’re trying to do some intense thinking. You may do best if you switch back and forth from normal to exercise modes, as many experts recommend. And definitely skip the workout if you’re on a phone call, video chat, or conference call. Nobody wants to hear the sound of your feet pounding away. It’s just not professional.
Would you work out while you work? Share your thoughts below!
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