Walking. Reaching. Sitting. Standing. Leaning. Turning to look. Picking up a baby. Raising arms to put on a shirt. It all requires that our musculoskeletal system be healthy, strong...fit. This is functional fitness, and none of it requires a gym membership, a 7-day-a-week rigid training schedule, a hard body, nor even much interest in exercise.
We all feel “stuck” at our desks day in and day out, and lament how it’s a contributor to missing our fitness goals. But, there’s really nothing stopping you from feeling the burn while you’re at work. (Unless your office is freezing and then the exercise has double benefit as it warms you up!)
While no one wants to get sweaty before defending a budget report, these 26 desk-friendly exercises can actually be done in your work clothes and no one will have any idea you’ve been logging steps and burning calories. In fact, every one of these moves can be done in whatever it is you wear to work.
It’s one of the reasons we made the ENELL Lite...a supportive everyday and sports bra that pulls double duty under many styles of clothes whether you're at work or at the gym. If you do decide to take the stairs or throw some shadow boxing punches, your tatas are going to stay securely, discreetly, and comfortably where they’re supposed to!
26 Workouts You Can Do in Your Work Clothes
Take the Stairs
Climbing the corporate ladder doesn’t log any steps in your tracker, but bounding up down a couple of levels as opposed to riding the elevator will. It’s easy cardio you can grab a few times each day.
Lean in to Pushups
Drop to the floor and give 20 for a classic pushup, or use your desk or the wall for a modified version that requires just as much power from your upper body. Try a few reps when you start feeling tense and tight.
Dip the Triceps
Your rolling desk chair is an injury hazard, but a stationary chair, sofa, bench, or stair will offer solid support for this squat variation. Pump out of a few of these while you’re waiting for that one guy to join the call.
Stop and take a plank break to build endurance, strength, and develop your core. Dr. Kathryn Schmitz encourages her research team to take this daily “exercise snack,” even in slacks.
Sit on the Wall
… and listen to Dancing on the Ceiling if it helps keep you motivated. Ditch the heels then stand flat against the wall, feet planted shoulder-width apart, and slide down until your “seated” while standing in a 90-degree angle.
Waiting on a fresh pot of coffee or the copier? Using a standing desk? From a flat foot position, push into the balls of your feet and raise your heels off the ground, lower slowly, repeat.
Stand at Your Desk
Standing desks are implicitly more “physical” than the standard. There’s more natural movement and mobility than sitting. In fact, the first study of its kind found that desk standers burned 174 more calories compared to an equal amount of time spent sitting.
Have a Ball
If you are sitting at your desk, ditch the four-legged seat for a stability ball. Sitting on a ball is so beneficial to developing and maintaining core strength, posture, balance, and provides some passive calorie burn.
Walk This Way
And then this way, and then back that way. Pacing during phone calls keeps your heart rate slightly elevated and can help you rack up your count toward that revised daily goal of about 5,000 steps per day.
Do the Heavy Lifting
Keep a pair of 3-5 pound dumbbells in your desk to keep yourself moving during long calls. While seated, you can do triceps extensions, wrist curls, lat raises, shoulder press, and more.
Stretch the Shoulders
Slouching at your desk definitely has you down. Take one whole minute to stretch out your shoulders by pulling the left arm across the chest. With the arm slightly bent, use the right arm to hold it in place for about 30 seconds. Then repeat on the right.
Run the Place
Got the 3 pm haze brain? While seated at your desk, fire the engines in your legs and start running...just don’t go anywhere. It’s a positive calorie burn and cardio boost when the real thing isn’t an option.
Walk it Off
Build more walking into your day. Maybe every time you finish a task take a 5-minute walk. Or log a few steps at the top of each hour. Or designate the first or last part of your lunch break for a walk.
Stretch it Out
The benefits of stretching include improved blood flow, posture, flexibility, and stress relief. Getting into the habit of doing neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, cross-chest arm stretches, or even a seated half pigeon pose at your desk can help reset your entire mind and body during the workday.
There are a number of seated ab exercises you can do right from your desk chair, all of which give you a burst of mini-movement that strengthens your core and improves your posture. Try modified crunches and Russian twists.
The mind-body benefits of yoga are extensive, and even a mini session can do a lot of good mid-day. These 10-minute yoga videos are perfect at the start of a lunch break or when you can steal an empty conference room.
Strike a Balance
If you already use a standing desk, increase the functional fitness with a balance board. The micro-movements throughout the day can add up to a lot of “extra” activity.
Float Like a Butterfly
Whether burning stress after a meeting gone wrong, shadow boxing is a fun way to get off your rear. Throwing a few punches over some fancy footwork can invigorate you to power through anything else on the agenda.
After a full day of leaning in, be sure to lunge forward. Tone and tighten that booty and your legs with these long, intentional steps you can take down a hallway or across a conference room.
Kick into High Gear
Stand behind your desk chair and alternate extending each leg into a backward kick. Easy and subtle enough to do while you would have been sitting through a long call.
Twiddle Your Thumbs
Fidgeting sounds like a waste of random energy, but it’s kinda good for you. Tapping your feet or drumming your fingers introduces micromovements that offer cardio, calorie-burning, and stress-relieving benefits.
Get the App
The 7-minute workout app can be done just about anywhere, any time. When can’t you spare 7 minutes at work to get a really good workout that won’t leave you sweaty?
Drop it Like it’s Squat
Three sets of 10 squats during a long conference call or as a break between tasks will keep your lower body toned and provide a really good resistance exercise. If you use a ball at your desk, add support to your squat by placing the ball between your back and the wall and rolling down.
Join the Resistance
Keep a resistance band in your desk. Wrap it around a door frame or even a tree in the courtyard for some upper body work to tone and tighten your arms.
This classic gym class warmup gives a little burst of quality cardio. Three sets of 10 jumping jacks before a meeting will give you a rush of endorphins - the happy hormone - and leave you clear-headed. Even better if you’re already wearing your Enell Lite.
Hit the Gym
If your office offers an in-house gym, take advantage of the free access to this invaluable asset. Treadmill or free weights over a lunch break won’t require an outfit change, but a full-on sweat sesh before you head home will!
Do you walk into the gym with a full face of makeup? Or do you role au naturale? If you tend to breakout after you workout, you need to consider the former.
Yes, a fresh-faced trip to the gym is much better for your skin. If you’re rolling your perfectly lined cateyes at us, just listen. When you workout, your body produces sweat and heat, which in turn opens up your pores. If your face is covered in makeup, those particles can move into those wide open pores. Which creates blockages. Which produces those darling little red and white spots all over your pretty little face.
To make matters worse, all that bacteria on the borrowed yoga mat, weights, machines, handlebars, and the other equipment is crawling with the bacteria that causes acne. (How much does that passive spritz and paper towel rub down really do?) And unless you’re a die-hard when it comes to cleaning your makeup brushes, those are a veritable petri dish, too.
Then, consider that your hands, that have been all over everything in the gym, touch your face 3.6 times every hour! For real, this is a big contributor to self-inoculation of the flu and other viruses.
Girl, you’ve gotta wash your face.
Keep your favorite face wash or face wipes in your gym bag. This will make it even easier to take care of when you walk into the gym straight from work. It also doesn’t hurt to clean your face of all the sweat and bacteria before you head back out.
Remember, the increased blood flow from working out is going to give your skin its own natural, rosy glow. But if you don’t feel like yourself, lack confidence, or can’t bear the thought of walking in there without your face on, there are some caveats.
Use natural mineral makeup products, which don’t tend to bind with sweat and clog pores the way standard makeup does.
Exfoliating 2-3 times each week (only once for sensitive skin), will keep your pores deep cleaned.
Wash your face as soon as you’re done with every workout.
Clean your makeup brushes at least monthly.
Consider going minimal with just mascara and lip gloss at the gym.
Anyone who thinks riding a horse isn’t a physically demanding sport...hasn’t ridden a horse. It’s no small task sitting atop a thousand-pound animal with whims of his own and convincingly guiding him through something as simple as a ride, or the more complex Olympic-level sport of dressage.
Maybe you already ride and want to improve your own fitness for better posture, maneuverability, and flexibility. Or perhaps you need a break from your normal city-girl reality and horseback riding suits your physical sensibilities. Either way, you’ll need the right workout plan to keep you fit enough to ride.
The CEO of a Swedish tentmaking company recently revealed her fitness secrets to the Wall Street Journal. Something she pursued and loved as a child has proven to provide the right release away from the pressure of her work. But it comes with its own demands, and has her sweating through fairly intense workouts most days of the week. (It also ensures she doesn’t have to give up the wine!)
Petra Hilleberg follows a diverse fitness plan that helps her build core strength, balance, and flexibility, which all help her move the horse while maintaining healthy posture.
Four mornings a week she does a “sweaty” 40-minute workout.
Three days a week she does up to 90 minutes of strength training.
Her moderate-intensity circuit training involves:
- Kettlebell squats
- Hamstring curls
- Plank plate pulls
- Box jumps
- Medicine balls throws
- Battle ropes
Some of the specialty equipment she keeps in her home gym includes the:
- TOGU Bike Balance Board
- Gibbon Slackline
- SkiErg ski machine
- BikeErg indoor bike
She uses the indoor ski machine and bike for cardio exercise that helps give her the endurance to keep up with her equestrian training and near-professional level dressage competitions.
As for diet, she keeps it green and lean. Including a salad for breakfast made from homegrown veggies, her day consists of mostly light fruit and green vegetables. Dinner usually incorporates a grilled protein like chicken or fish.
Also Check Out These 5 Yoga Poses You Can Do on a Horse
PS: The ENELL SPORT bra is a favorite among our friends with a passion for equestrian sports
Just move… anytime, anywhere, by any means.
Doing so, in any way, will dramatically improve health. That’s the message in the first new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans published since 2008. The Department of Health and Human Services announced in mid-November an intensive 10-year review of available science about physical activity and made modifications on the original guidelines.
They had stressed doing 10 minute bouts of exercise a couple times each day of the week to achieve the substantial health benefits of an active lifestyle; however, now they say it all counts. Only 26% of men, 19% of women, and 20% of adolescents adhere to the previous guidelines, healthcare costs that rack up a $117 billion bill in the U.S. annually.
These new guidelines represent the latest scientific findings and introduce even more previously-unknown health benefits, all of which benefit the way we feel, function, and sleep.
HOW MUCH EXERCISE DO WE NEED?
Adults over age 17 should aim for 150 to 300 minutes (2.5 to 5 hours) of moderate-intensity exercise each week and 2 days of muscle-strengthening exercise. If you prefer more vigorous/high-intensity exercise, aim for 75 minutes each week. But again … all movement counts!
Kids age 6-17 should engage in 60 minutes of active exercise or play every day, including activities that develop bone strength like climbing, jumping rope, and basketball.
Preschool children age 3-5 should be moving through active play three hours a day.
WHAT ARE THE NEW FITNESS BENEFITS?
The biggest change from HHS advises everyone to “move more, sit less.” Contrary to popular opinion, sitting is not worse than smoking. But it’s not great for you either. Sedentary individuals are at a much higher risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, excessive weight gain, and all-cause mortality. They say any and all movement offsets these effects.
From a single bout of activity you will see immediate benefits in reduced anxiety, lower blood pressure, improved sleep, and lower insulin sensitivity.
Long-term activity benefits include brain health, reduction in risk for eight different cancers (previously HHS only listed two types), and reduced risk for fall-related injuries.
All of this movement and activity can also help manage chronic illnesses, including reduced progression of hypertension and type 2 diabetes, reduced anxiety and depression, ADHD relief, and decreased pain from osteoporosis.
WHAT COUNTS AS EXERCISE?
Everything! Walk the dog, dance, vacuum, garden, move boxes, chase your kids, take a swim, have sex… all movement counts! It’s an effective idea the authors of What You Can, When You Can came around to years ago.
These moderate-intensity yoga poses will really fire up your practice.
You can squeeze in this 7-minute workout just about anywhere.
Even these 21 light-intensity exercises will give you simple but worthwhile excuses to just get up and move.