Get Your (Low) Sweat On At Work With Easy Workouts
> Just two 15 minute sessions of moderate exercise is all you need
Life is just so damn busy.
From the moment you reluctantly pull the covers off and get yourself up out of bed to when you collapse in bed at night, it’s a non-stop day full of things to do, tasks to complete, calls to make, meetings to attend, family to support, etc.
Even if there were more hours in the day, it’d most likely be consumed by more to-do’s and tasks than things for yourself.
Every weekday morning, you’re the ringmaster of a circus act to get everyone and everything ready and out the door.
Every weekday evening, you feel like an air traffic controller juggling multiple incoming airplanes while sorting and organizing all the other planes moving around on the ground simultaneously.
Yeah, right. Who’s got time for that?
There’s no way in hell that you’re gonna get up early to work out. No thanks - sleep is more valuable.
And as for exercising after work - you’ve used up all your energy in dealing with all the bullshit at the office that you’re too exhausted to go to the gym. There’s only just enough energy reserves to commute home and deal with the other usual challenges.
You know that exercise is good for you. But most of the time, you’re simply too tired, too busy and a little unmotivated.
However, there is a way to fit in a mini workout routine into your workday that is easy to do and won’t crunch life’s other priorities outside of work.
And, this is what we’re covering today.
A Little Exercise Goes A Long Way
We all have that one guy or girl in the office that is an absolute gym-a-holic.
They wake up at some ungodly hour in the morning to workout before coming into the office or they jet to the gym right after work like they’re catching a train.
They get their full hour long (or more) workout sessions done on a daily basis. Good on them.
But you know what?
Here’s a little secret - we don’t have to be crazy workout monsters to get the same benefits as they do.
In fact, we could do half as much as they do but still get nearly all the same benefits.
There are lots of health studies out there, including this one from the University of Copenhagen, that proves that you don’t need to devote hours of your time to the gym to get the health benefits of working out.
The study showed that just 30 minutes a day can provide the same level of benefits as an hour-long session. The subjects in the study that exercised for 30 minutes lost just as much weight as those that worked out twice as long for a full hour.
Other research studies have shown similar findings where longer duration exercises don’t necessarily yield more and more benefits.
The message here - you don’t need to work out for a long time to get healthy.
This is also proven by The US Department Of Health and Human Services. They recommend that we get these exercise components done each week:
1) 150 minutes of “moderate” exercise weekly and...
2) Muscle-strengthening exercises 2 days a week
You can read more about the department’s guidelines here in more detail. For today though, we’re just going to look at the first component.
So, what’s considered “moderate” exercise?
It’s really any exercise or activity where you’re moving your body and breathing hard but can still easily hold a conversation. It’s the point where you can feel a light sweat breaking out - that’s moderate exercise.
Here’s another common event that we all go through at work that qualifies as moderate exercise.
It’s when you’re running late to a meeting that is being held at the other side of the building, campus, floor, etc. You’re walking fast enough that you’re breathing hard and your heart rate is elevated. When you show up to the meeting, you’re slightly out of breathe but not gasping.
Get it? That’s moderate exercise. It’s not the sweat-storm of running and lifting weights.
If we take the recommended time of 150 minutes per week and divide it down into 5 days for the week, then it breaks down to 30 minutes a day for 5 days.
Or, put more simply, it’s 30 minutes of moderate exercise Monday through Friday - that’s basically the work week.
By breaking it down to smaller and more manageable mini-chunks of time, it becomes even easier to integrate into our busy work lives and thus, easier to start and stick with.
Here’s how we can achieve the 30 minutes on a daily basis:
- one 30 minute session
- two 15 minute sessions
- three 10 minute sessions
Any of these will work and should be “fittable” into your workday. We’ll discuss more about these options later on this article.
Benefits From Just 30 Minutes Of Exercise
It doesn’t seem like 30 minutes can really have much of an impact of your health, but it really does make a difference.
When you can consistently do some moderate exercise, even for just a half an hour, you’ll gain the following health bonuses:
🙂 Lowers risk of heart disease
🙂 Prevents extra weight gain
🙂 Enhances circulatory system
🙂 Strengthens muscles and bones
🙂 Improves sleep at night
🙂 Softens anxiety and depression
🙂 Boosts happiness and positivity
🙂 Stimulates sex drive
🙂 Reduces cholesterol and blood pressure levels
🙂 Heightens self-esteem and confidence
🙂 Increases energy levels
🙂 Delays a host of chronic illnesses
🙂 Builds up resilience to stress
That last one in particular is a big one for all of us working in stressful office environments. Work stress can really do a number on us every day.
Exercise is the #1 best natural stress buster out there - hands down.
The folks over at Seeker explain this a bit more in this short video.
VIDEO: How Exercise Rewires Your Brain
> Exercise makes your brain reorganize itself for the better
> New structures help your brain handle stress better
> Being fit improves your ability to manage everyday stresses
It’s obvious that exercise is good for you. You’ve heard it a million times.
All of the health-related benefits are always mentioned. However, there are a lot of other secondary positive attributes that come from daily exercise, particularly with your mood.
In the most simplest of terms, doing a bit of moderate exercise just makes you feel better overall. When you feel better, you’re generally happier and have a brighter outlook on life. And, we all could use more of that, right?
A little bit of exercise isn’t going to turn you into some 24x7 happy-go-lucky wonder human. Nope (thankfully) but it will certainly turn up your smile dial a little more.
Workout Strategies For Minimal Sweat & Maximum Benefit
With a weekday daily target of 30 total minutes, we’ll present a few strategies on how to easily incorporate some moderate exercise into your work schedule.
The strategies here aren’t set with rigid rules of what exact time you should exercise during the day. There’s flexibility in when, where and how you should exercise.
Set it up in a way that makes it easy for you to start getting into it and more importantly, sticking with it.
For each of the three strategies we’re outlining below, the main objective is to get your body moving and up your heart rate a bit.
Remember, the point you’re aiming for is when you’re breathing hard but still able to have a conversation without much effort or strain. It's when you're just starting to break out in a light sweat. This is the sweet spot zone.
In fact, a really good idea is to recruit a fellow work BFF who also wants to get in on the healthy fun with you. Then, you can exercise and chat away at the same time. The talking will help both of you naturally set the right pace.
Finally, when do you exercise, be sure to do it in a safe place to minimize any chances of getting hurt. So, stay away from high vehicle traffic areas, slippery and uneven surfaces, construction zones, etc.
Option 1: One 30 Minute Session
The best time to do a 30 minute exercise session is during your lunch hour. There’s just enough time to warm up, exercise, cool down and then have lunch.
This is the most ideal part of the day to exercise because it doesn’t require you to get to work early ahead of time and it won’t keep you after work either.
It slots into your normal day-to-day schedule.
Here’s how it could work during a standard lunch hour from noon to 1pm:
12:00pm - 12:05pm Quick stretch and warm up
12:05pm - 12:35pm Moderate exercise session
12:35pm - 12:40pm Cool down
12:40pm - 1:00pm Relax and eat lunch
This option only really works well if you bring packed lunches to work because of the shortened eating time. With only 20 minutes to eat, you won’t have the time to go out and buy lunch then eat it. So, this option is best suited to those that bring their own lunch to work.
If you’re the type that enjoys going out to eat for lunch, then the next option is better for you.
Option 2: Two 15 Minute Sessions
If you’d like to keep your midday lunch break to a full hour to allow for going out to eat or you just want a more leisurely lunch hour, then this option can be a workable deal.
Instead of a single 30 minute session, divide it up into two 15 minute sessions with one in the mid-morning and the other in the mid-afternoon.
15 minutes: Moderate exercise
5 minutes: Cool down and get back to your desk
A great way to integrate this into your day is to include it as part of a single hour-long monotasking session.
Schedule it like a meeting with yourself.
For example, block out an hour on your calendar for an “Email Session” or a “Project Review” and use 40 minutes of that time to focus on work and 20 minutes dedicated to moderate exercise (15 minutes) with some cool down time (5 minutes).
If you can set these monotasking sessions as daily recurring meetings with yourself, you’ll be more apt to get it done - both the work and the exercise.
If you tend to get sucked into the work so much that you forget about the exercise break, then flip it around in your time slot where you exercise first then get back to work.
For either set-up, it’s a good idea to set the timer on your phone to keep you on track.
Option 3: Three 10 Minute Sessions
This option is for those that have daily schedules that are packed and change constantly with last minute meeting requests, conference calls, etc.
When you’ve got an open slot of 10-15 minutes, sneak out of your cubicle and get in a quick 10 minute session. You’ll need to do this 3 times throughout the day to cover the recommended 30 minutes. This is gonna require more self-discipline. So, squeeze it in when and where you can.
This option isn’t as ideal as the prior two because it’s very free form and that can work against you. When the exercise isn’t part of a scheduled event, it’s more likely to be forgotten or ignored.
Of the three options listed here, the first two are the ones that will have the best success. Start with one of those.
Get A Good Pair Of Sneakers
The one single item that you will need to exercise at work is a good pair of sneakers, running or walking shoes. It doesn’t need to be some expensive pair of runners either.
You most likely already have a pair of athletic shoes sitting around somewhere in the house. Grab those and if they’re still in reasonably good shape with no rips, tears and the sole is not worn through, they’ll work just fine.
If not, go out and buy any basic, comfortable pair of sneakers or athletic shoes.
Don’t go spending big bucks on a pair of fancy high-end running shoes. You’ll just be wasting money. Just buy a basic pair and make sure that they are comfortable.
Walk around the store for a few minutes and see how they feel - that’s the first priority. Then, if they look decent, you’re good to go.
Exercise Options & Ideas
There are plenty of ways to get your body moving and your heart rate up without the need for exercise equipment, gym memberships, personal trainers, etc.
All you really need is your sneakers and a bit of your time - that’s it.
Your office complex is your workout area. It offers plenty of spots, both indoors and outdoors, to do some informal moderate exercise. So, no matter what Mother Nature throws at you, you can still get your session done.
We’ve listed out a few exercise ideas here. Most are doable in typical workplaces.
1) Walking Outside
This is the most obvious one and the one we recommend the most when the weather’s acceptable.
When you’ve been sitting at your desk for hours, tapping the keyboard and staring at the screen, it feels really good to just get outside for some fresh air and look out into the real world instead of into a monitor.
Here are a few walking exercises that you can easily do:
- Do laps around the parking lot
- Walk around the block several times
- Circle around the office building
- Go back-n-forth from the bus stop
- Hike around the campus
If you want to kick it up a notch, mix in some walking lunges to add a bit more challenge.
2) Stationary Or Walking Lunges
This is a great way to add some variety to just walking. Just mix it in every few minutes to incorporate a bit of leg strengthening to your walk.
Or, you can do a mini stationary lunge session when you’re at the halfway point of your exercise session. Think of it as a middle sub-session within your workout.
Check out this quick video on how to properly do lunges.
VIDEO: How To Do A Walking Lunge
Don’t rush through the walking lunges. You need to slow down your brisk walk and adjust your speed. Doing slower more deliberate lunges with the proper form will have far more benefit than faster sloppier ones.
And if your office doesn’t really have good places to walk around outside, then stationary lunges can be the perfect solution. Just find a safe open area outdoors or indoors and start lunging away.
3) Indoor Stair Climbing
When it’s oppressively hot-n-humid, raining cat-n-dogs or bone-chilling cold, basically any weather that isn’t good for being outside, then bring your workout indoors.
We all work in office buildings that are shielded from the weather and climate controlled. So, no matter what shitty weather is happening outside, it’s always perfect inside.
All buildings have at least two stairwells for fire code compliance. You can use both sets of stairs as your workout areas. Let’s call these Stairwell A and Stairwell B.
1. Go up Stairwell A to the top floor
2. Walk across the top floor to Stairwell B
3. Go down Stairwell B to the ground floor
4. Walk across the ground floor back to Stairwell A
5. Go back up Stairwell A to the top floor
6. Repeat until you’ve completed your time goal
You can mix it up too:
- Walk across every floor between the sets of stairs
- Take every other step to increase your effort
- Meditate while climbing by counting steps
- Listen to your fav music or podcast while walking/stepping
- Bring your work BFF and chat-n-climb together
4) Modified Jumping Jacks
We all did these as kids in school and many athletes and fitness-minded folks still do. Why? Because it’s a very effective way to get your heart rate up quickly while moving and using your upper and lower body.
It totally works your entire body. It warms you up fast and can also tire you out quickly.
The best way to start is by doing modified jumping jacks for a few weeks then you can phase in normal jumping jacks.
The best part about either option is that you don’t need much space and it can be done indoors or outdoors.
VIDEO: How To Do A Jumping Jack
Jumping jacks are great but very hard to do for your entire workout session. That’d be crazy and impossible to do. No, definitely don’t do that.
If you want to concentrate on doing just jumping jacks, you need to add in rest time between sets. So, do 10 jumping jacks then rest for a minute and then, repeat.
Or, do modified jumping jacks as shown in the video. This will be less intense and more doable for longer durations.
Otherwise, think of jumping jacks as a little spicy addition to your normal exercise meal. You can do 10-20 jumping jacks midway during your workout to add a little more oomph.
5) Standing Squats
Standing squats falls in the same category as jumping jacks. It can be your sole workout exercise, but you need to add in a minute of rest in between sets.
With squats, you want to make sure you have the proper form to prevent injury and to get the most out of each repetition.
Check out this short 2 minute video.
VIDEO: Squats For Beginners - How to do a Squat Correctly
Do 10 repetitions slowly and correctly for each set. This is not about how fast you can do them. Take your time.
After completing your first set of 10 reps, take a breather for a minute, then repeat the process for however many sets you’d like to do.
If you’re mixing in standing squats to walking, then do it a set of 10 at the start, another at the halfway point and a final set of 10 at the end of your walking session.
This will blend in some light strength training for your legs.
The same space benefit applies here too - you don’t need much in the way of space and you can do this inside or outside.
6) Invisible Jump Rope
Jumping rope is another one of those classic elementary exercises, both in the figurative and literal sense.
But for our office exercises, we’ll be doing this without the rope. Sometimes, this is called invisible jump rope or skipping in place.
This version is just as good without needing to have all the timing coordination of using an actual rope.
With your forearms out, as if you’re holding a jump rope, just start hopping in place with both of your feet. Use your forearms and wrists to spin your invisible rope up, over and behind you.
There’s no risk of tripping or getting your feet all tangled up. Once you master this, you can eventually be like this kid and turn a real jump rope invisible with ultra-fast speed.
VIDEO: Jumping rope with invisible speed!
YOUTUBE: CCTV English
Jesus walked on water but this kid just might be able to run across it.
Well, your jump rope skills won’t get to this point, but at least you’re jumping and moving around - that’s worth a lot.
7) Use The Company Gym (If Available)
If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that has an on-site fitness center, then you’ve got the best and most ideal set-up. Take advantage of it!
The gym will always have a least one or two treadmills, stationary bicycles and maybe, even an elliptical machine or two.
Hop on any of these exercise machines and get your heart rate up and get your body into that “moderate” zone where you’re breathing hard but still able to hold a conversation.
You can even watch a fav TV episode, listen to a podcast or music or just catch up with your work BFF while the both of you workout.
Grab Your Sneaks & Get Started
This isn’t a matter of whether you should exercise or not.
You know you should and we know that you can. It’s just not something you’ve really done at work. It’s not part of your normal routine.
Getting started is the hardest part of any new endeavor and this is no different.
Changing something or introducing something new in your normal behavior is like a long train of cargo trying to get moving. It takes a lot of effort to get going.
So, if the thought of doing some moderate exercise Monday through Friday is too daunting, then do less. Start with 3 days a week, like Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Or, even less with 2 days a week, like Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The point here is to get that initial momentum going - even if it’s only a couple of days during the week.
What you’ll discover is that once you get the ball rolling, it gets easier and easier with each passing week. And before you know it, you’re at it 5 days a week.
And when you get to that point, everyone in the office, including the gym rats, will give you mad props for your dedication.
Then, your feel-good vibes start spreading to other aspects of your lifestyle, like healthy snacking, getting more sleep, meditating, etc. It becomes an upward spiral of all sorts of goodness.
So, pack those sneakers in your car tonight and bring them into work tomorrow. Get started. You can do this!