Every week I hear my new patients tell me they are stressed: they want to lose excess weight or get healthier but do not have the time to exercise. Exercising regularly is an important part of a proactive approach to good health, now and for the future. It will reduce your chances of developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and many other conditions North Americans are at high risk of developing. One solution to the time factor is to exercise at or around your place of work. Below are my ten tips to get active around the workplace.

1. Break Time. Workplaces give about 30 minutes a day for lunch, and often short breaks 5-15 minutes in length. These are golden opportunities to add some heart-pumping, muscle stimulating/stretching exercises.

For the first five to ten minutes of your break, do stair-climbing, or walk around the building or the office floor hallways.

This will get your heart pumping and invigorate you overall.

2. While waiting for the fax/copy machine, or for a website or document to load on your computer do 10 squats

Simply bend your knees and shift your body downward and stick your behind backwards a bit.

3. If you do a lot of phone calling at your workspace, get a headset, and every hour do ten “stand-ups” where you simply stand up and sit down repetitively.

4. You can change up your movements at each hour, for instance, you can do calf-leg raises while standing by just lifting your heels off the ground standing on the balls of your feet repetitively, or do leg kick-backs (great for the gluteal (butt) muscles) where you slightly lift one leg off the ground and extend that leg backwards about thirty degrees and bring it back to rest and repeat, hold on to your desk or the wall to keep steady.

5. On the days where traffic is good or if you take transit, your bus or subway may bring you to work earlier.

Instead of chatting on the phone or at the lunch room, do some activity. In those extra bonus minutes you have, walk at a brisk pace, perhaps there’s a park nearby or a mall where you can do a few laps.

6. Do 10 Shoulder Rounds

Stick your arms straight out to each side and make a basketball sized circle in the air with your hands; repeat in the opposite direction. This will strengthen your shoulder muscles; gradually increase to 30 rounds in each direction.

7. Sitting in your chair and keeping your back in neutral position, lift one leg off the floor and straighten it and extend it forward, then slowly drop it towards the floor (without touching) and bring it back up.

Do this 5-15 times and repeat with the other leg.

8. Do it in packs.

Your manager or business owner may well be open to arranging exercise classes on-site. Many trainers and instructors will come into the workplace to set up a range of short classes: aerobics, yoga, tai chi, etc.

9. Instead of sitting and chatting with your workmates at break time, walk around the block outside together.

The outdoor fresh air and sun can really awaken your mind and get you feeling more upbeat and refreshed.

10. Annually, businesses revise their insurance coverage for employee benefits.

Find out when your company renews and suggest incorporating coverage for gym membership, or flex benefits that may cover the cost of at-work instructors or trainers. They may see that it can improve employee work satisfaction and motivation, improve energy overall and effectiveness and focus at work, and are definitely an effective investment.

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