Mornings aren’t easy, even for people who love mornings. If you wake up exhausted, and the day has barely begun, it’s hard to imagine being able to get through an entire work day without falling asleep and/or drinking the equivalent of an entire pot of coffee all by yourself.
Exercise is one way to get your day going, but if you don’t have time for a full workout before you head to the office, sorry: you’re still not off the hook. There are plenty of exercises you can still perform when you get there, before your work day begins.
Here are some office exercises to get your day going and give you the energy to stay productive without extra caffeine or a nap.
1. Walk around
You probably don’t think about it too much, but on average, you spend the majority of your day sitting. You sit at the table to eat breakfast (hopefully). You sit in the car or on the train on the way to work. And once you get to work, you most likely sit in the same chair in the same spot all day long.
Walking is a great way to start off your day. It gets your heart rate going and gives you more energy to get things done.
Thinking about calling or emailing someone who’s just a floor or even a short stroll down the hall away? You’ll get an answer much faster if you just get out of your chair and walk to where they are.
If you need to make a personal call during your next break anyway, walk back and forth up and down a hallway while you’re doing it.
2. Do a few curls
Before the day even begins, look around your work area or other areas in the office for an object you can use to do curls. Curls strengthen the muscles in your arms, which is helpful, since most of the time you probably have them resting on a table top while you’re doing other work.
Find a book, a few reams of printer paper, a stapler … anything you can use to give yourself a reasonable amount of weight to lift. Hold the object in your hand, palm up, and curl it toward your body. And repeat.
Curls are an exercise that takes a typical movement you perform naturally every single day and works to strengthen those muscles to reduce your chance of injury. Being able to lift heavier objects without tiring is also a bonus.
3. Wall sits
If you want to strengthen both your leg muscles and the muscles in your back, wall sits are the perfect and most convenient way to do this. If your desk is near a wall, this one’s even simpler.
All you have to do is stand against a wall, walk your legs forward and slide your body down so that you are “sitting” against the wall, with your back pressed to it but your legs supporting you. Once you are in this “sitting” position, you will hold that position for a certain amount of time before you let your legs relax.
Don’t try to ease yourself into your “sitting” position if you are too close or too far away from the wall. Make sure you are pressing your back against the wall but that your weight is supported by your legs.
This exercise is pretty simple, and you can do it almost anywhere. Here’s what it looks like.
4. Stair climbing
You may have heard one or twice before (more like 100 times) that one way to get more exercise into your day is to take the stairs to your office floor and back down instead of riding up and down the elevator. This is a great start, but you don’t just have to limit yourself to a few comings and goings every day.
When you’re on break or if you finish your lunch with time to spare, climb up and down a few flights of stairs before you get back to work. Go at a reasonable pace, so that you’re giving yourself a little bit of a challenge, but don’t go so fast you lose your balance. This isn’t a race.
Going up and down stairs uses completely different muscles than regular walking does, so you’ll feel it in your legs tomorrow. This is a good sign. Keep up with it, and bring more sensible shoes if you have to and keep them in a drawer so you don’t have an excuse not to climb some stairs next time.
5. Standing calf raises (using the floor)
Standing calf raises work the calf muscles in your lower legs, stretching and therefore strengthening them. The nice thing about this exercise is that you can do it with a machine at the gym, but you can just as easily and effectively perform the exercise in your home office or during a short break at work.
If you are at work or in your home office, all you need to do is use a wall or the back of a chair for support. Firmly plant your feet, raise your heels so that you are supporting yourself with the balls of your feet, hold that position and slowly lower yourself back down. Repeat this 15-20 times.
You will start to “feel the burn” in the lower back of your legs. This is a good thing. Don’t overdo it, but do push through your set of 15-20 repetitions.
When you’re doing standing calf raises, don’t bend your knees as you go up and down; keep them straight. Keep them stiff, but don’t lock your knees.
This video will give you a visual demonstration of how to do this exercise correctly.
Exercising at the office might sound like a silly idea at first, but in some cases, this is the only opportunity you might have to get moving. If you want to start a fitness routine but need to start small, give these techniques a try. You may even be able to, over time, come up with your own.