How to Get Your Workout on at Work

istock-woman-squatting-chair
(Photo: iStock)

Country music queen Dolly Parton was right -- working nine to five is some way to make a living. From office meetings to conferences and running errands, it gets hard to squeeze a workout in most days.

Between work, driving, eating and hanging out with friends, TIME reports the average adult spends 50 to 70 percent of their time sitting. And while being glued to our desks all day reflects a good work ethic, we’re not contributing much to our overall health. In a groundbreaking study last year, researchers at the National Cancer Institute suggest those who spend more hours of the day sitting actually increase their risk of developing certain types of cancers than those who aren’t as inactive.

But it does seem possible to have the best of both worlds. Research suggests being active during work can actually lead to an increase in productivity while also boosting your health.

Cardio
Known for strengthening your heart, increasing metabolism, and improving hormone levels, cardio doesn't have to mean running marathons around cubicles. Move those muscles by unleashing your inner Fred Astaire and tap your toes at your desk. If you want to stretch, take the stairs over the elevator and go for walks. Not only will you give yourself a good leg workout, but walking also stimulates thinking and makes for better sociability.

Legs
We all want miniskirt-worthy legs, but when we’re overwhelmed by paperwork, there’s hardly time to focus on our thighs or calves. If you’re dreaming of Carrie Underwood’s legs, tone calf muscles with calf raises. Keep feet together and get on your tippy toes as you hold the back of a chair for 10 seconds, then release and repeat. Also remember to stand whenever possible as standing increases daily caloric expenditure.

Butt
Wall sits are perfect for muscle toning and require zero equipment. Stand straight against a blank wall space and squat down to a 90-degree angle. Engage your core and butt, then slide back up and repeat. And if you have some privacy, try chair squats. Stand a few inches in front of your chair and lower yourself until your butt hits the edge. Then, pop right back up using your thighs. You can also use the back of an office chair to keep your arms level for a more traditional squat.

Abs
Crop tops and washboard abs seem like a fantasy, but there are ways to work toward your goals at the office thanks to the swivel chair. While sitting upright, keep your feet hovering above the floor and hold the edge of the desk with your fingertips. Engage your core as you swivel from side to side, swishing back and forth with 10 twists, three times throughout the day.

If you want to be more inconspicuous, try seated crunches. With both hands on your thighs, try to curl your chest towards your legs while not moving your arms. You should feel a strain in your abs -- hold for 10 seconds, release and repeat.

Arms
First Lady Michelle Obama’s beautifully shaped arms make us want to better our own. Not only is arm strength important, but life feels better when you’re stronger and can go about any daily task a bit more easily.

While seated, try desk pulls. Position yourself at arm’s length from the desk, sit straight, raise feet slightly above the floor, and slowly pull with your arms until the chair rolls forward. Then, roll back by pushing away and repeat 15 times while engaging your core. If you want to try something different and less sweaty, raise the roof by heaving heavy books above your head.

Chest and Back
Sitting all day can put a strain on our back muscles and weaken our posture. To improve a hunch, engage with a hunch crunch. Pretend you’re holding a ruler between your shoulder blades and squeeze together for 10 seconds, then simply release and repeat.

And if you’re waiting for that copy to finally print, try printer push-ups. Find a nearby desk or table to position your hands on while staying an arm’s length away with your spine straight. Place your hands shoulder width apart on the edge of the surface with your legs behind you. Maintain a 45 degree angle and push off with as much force as you can. It’s an easy move that can help you feel a quick burn.