Long hours sitting down can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health. The majority of working Aussies spend long hours chained to a desk only to return home to spend the next five hours on the couch flicking through Foxtel or binge-watching Netflix.
As a personal trainer with more than 20 years of experience in the industry, I’ve heard every excuse why people can’t make their health a priority. The #1 reason I hear when it comes to why people aren’t exercising regularly is a lack of time; and, for most people, the main culprit behind not having enough time is because of their work.
Spending 8 to 10 hours a day in the office makes it hard to stay fit and active. But just because you spend most of your day sitting at a desk, it doesn’t mean your health needs to take a hit. There’s plenty of quick and easy ways to move your body without leaving your desk.
How to exercise at your desk and improve your fitness without breaking a sweat.
Even if you’re too busy to get out for a walk this lunchtime, there are still improve your fitness – at work or in your study – without breaking a sweat. So, if you’re ready, why not give my no-sweat office workout routine a go?
Can I get fitter without sweating?
Yes! Moving your body is about so much more than just sweat. A good, effective workout that burns fat and builds muscle doesn’t have to involve intense perspiration but it should be challenging.
The key is to a fast and effective office workout (without the sweat) is to exercise just enough to get your heart rate up, but not so high that you overheat.
Why do our bodies sweat?
The statement “the fitter you get the less you sweat” is a misconception. There are a number of factors as to how, why (and how much) we sweat. The truth is, there really is no perfect science to it, but to start you need to understand what it means when we sweat.
Sweating is our bodies’ way of cooling itself down, a process called thermoregulation. This is the process where your brain sends a message to your glands to release sweat. When sweat evaporates from our skin our body temperature lowers. When we exercise our body temperature increases and the sweat response is activated.
Why do we sweat as much (or as little) as we do?
There are a number of factors that influences how much you sweat when you exercise:
- Your body fat percentage
- Your gender
- Your genetics
- The number of sweat glands you have
- The temperature where you workout
- The intensity of your exercise session
What are some easy no-sweat exercises can I do at work?
OK, so I went to Snezana for some advice on this one, and apparently the key to finding a lunchtime workout that won’t mess your hair and makeup is to not work out at all (just joking!). No, really, the key is to an office workout that will give you results (without the sweat) is to exercise just enough to get your heart rate up, but not so high that you overheat and start sweating. There is no jumping or running, you just move quickly from one exercise to the next. You need to work your muscles to feel a good burn and throw in some good mobility yoga-style moves, too.
Low impact workouts that work your whole body (such as Pilates and other mat-based routines) can be incredibly effective and are easily done at work. These use compound movements which are ideal because they engage multiple muscle groups, which means can work multiple areas of your body in less time!
For extra sweat-protection at work, try exercising in an air-conditioned room or choose a room with a fan that you can direct towards you.
P.S. Before you go, take a quick look at my simple tips to improve your general health & fitness while you’re at the office.
Low Impact Office Workout #1
Workout Repeat this circuit 4 times for an effective lunchtime burn without leaving the office or ruining your hair and makeup!
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Your toes, knees and hips should all be facing forward.
- Bend your knees and push your hips backwards as if you were going to sit on a chair.
- Make sure you keep the weight on the heels of your feet.
- Return to a standing position.
2. Office Chair Knee Tuck
- Starting in a push-up position, have your feet on the chair.
- Make sure you brace your core and slide your knees towards your chest, slide the chair towards your body.
- Make sure your core is always activated.
- Slide back to start position and repeat.
- Slide and glide 20 times.
3. Desk Push-Ups
- Stand facing your desk.
- Position your hands on the edge of the desk, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Perform a normal push-up movement.
- Ensure that your body is completely straight at all times throughout the movement.
4. Static desk bicep contraction
- Sitting at your desk, put your hands under the desk, as if you were to lift the desk with the palms of your hands.
- Keep your elbows as close to 90 degrees as you can.
- Perform a static contraction (make your biceps contract without moving your elbow) as hard as you can with good posture for 30 seconds.
5. Controlled Desk Dips
- Place your hands on your chair and slowly lower yourself up and down
- Make sure to only lightly brush the chair with your back as you move.
- Keep this one up for 20 reps.
ADVANCED WORKOUT UPGRADE: If you add isolation exercises to this workout, then you can target your most challenging areas at the same time as increasing your fitness. You choose the target areas that make the most sense to you, and you’ll soon start to feel a deep, satisfying burn in those areas, so you know it’s working – without the sweat! For example, you can add specific exercises to tone your arms or, if you’re a dad, try these exercises to get rid of the love handles and ditch the dad bod.
You don’t need a gym to get fit. As thousands of my 28ers have discovered, you can get real results in a short amount of time by training smart, using nothing but your own body-weight. If you’re serious about getting fitter, don’t make excuses, just make it work.
Low Impact Office Workout #2
Here is an exercise that can easily be done with something we all have: a desk chair!
Make sure your hands are facing forward and lower yourself down and up, keeping your butt as close to the chair as possible.
These are an awesome workout for your hamstrings, quads and glutes.
Rest your back against the wall with your knees bent and hips at a 90-degree angle, and hold this pose for as long as you can, keeping your back firmly against the wall. If you want to take it up a notch, try holding some resistance while in this pose.
Standing Calf Raises
Stand with your feet pointed straight ahead and hip-width apart. Lift your heels off the floor, placing your body weight onto the balls of your feet, now force your calve muscles to flex, then return your heels to the floor.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Your toes, knees and hips should all be facing forward. Bend your knees and push your hips backwards as if you were going to sit on a chair. Make sure you keep the weight on the heels of your feet. Return to a standing position.
Lateral Leg Raises
Standing on one leg, keep the knee comfortably slightly bent. Raise your other leg a few centimetres off the floor and continue to lift laterally as high as you can. Work towards getting your lifted leg to a 45-degree angle. Lower it back to the starting position and repeat. Don’t forget to swap legs to stay even!
Focus on getting a 90-degree angle in both legs, trying to bend the back knee to the floor and making sure your front knee doesn’t push too front forward over the toes. Try and hold for a minute each leg.
Ready for some challenging exercises to tone your stomach at home?
Quick office exercises without leaving your desk chair
There are many exercises that you can perform without getting up from your desk. Although you won’t work up a sweat, it doesn’t mean you’re not working your muscles and building your strength. Here are some great low impact exercises you can try next time you’re sitting at your desk:
- Seated Leg Raises
- Chair Dips
- Seated Torso Twist
- Arm Curls
- Seated Squats
- Glute Squeeze
Quick tips to stay healthy at work (naturally!)
Here are 7 things you should do every day to stay healthy while you’re stuck at work.
1. Take 3 minutes every hour to stand, stretch… and move!
If you’re sitting at your desk all day, it’s important to take a few minutes every hour to get your blood flowing. It not only helps you relieve muscle tension from being still so long, it also gives yourself a mental break which is proven to help improve your focus all day. Set a reminder every hour on your computer if you need a gentle nudge.
2. Ensure you pass this ergonomic work set-up test
- The top of your computer screen should be in line (or slightly above) your eye level.
- You should be sitting about an arm’s length from the screen
- Your chair should be supporting your whole spine
- Your back-rest should be slightly reclined to be 10-20 degrees from vertical
- Your hips and knees should be comfortably bent at a right-angle
- Your feet should be on the floor (or at least be supported by a stable footrest)
3. Stay hydrated
Dehydration often feels like hunger and this can lead to unnecessary snacking and poor food choices. Hydration also plays a huge role in your brain function and energy levels so keep a water bottle on your desk and keep sipping that h20 to stay healthy at work.
4. Get your steps up
Incidental activity continues to be on the decline in our society, and it can often be a big shock to see how far away from the recommended 10,000 daily steps you are. If you have an iPhone and you carry your phone everywhere you go, you might be able to access how many steps you average per day in their health app. If not, you might like to get a wearable device that will track your steps and try to keep yourself accountable to reaching 10k. Accumulating your daily steps in small bursts throughout the day is the most natural and efficient way to increase your incidental activity at work. Get creative and find more reasons to get up and move during the day… without upsetting the boss of course!
A big mistake people make is they try and do all their daily steps in one go. This is not only difficult to achieve for most people, it also has no additional benefit to your health. It’s much easier to let regular bursts of activity add up throughout the day to increase your incidental activity, naturally!
5. Get some fresh air and vitamin D during your breaks
To assist with getting those steps up, get outside for at least 10 minutes in your lunch break. Get some fresh air, take in some vitamin D, take a deep breath and let yourself switch off. Aim to do this without any electrical devices.
6. Don’t cave to unhealthy peer pressure at work
Excessive after-work socializing & drinking, eating unhealthy lunches to fit in with your co-workers (even though you know what your body needs) and your general attitude towards exercise can all be influenced by your colleagues – but they don’t have to be. Have the courage to forge your own path. Don’t be negatively influenced by others because no-one is ever going to care about your health as much as you.
7. Consider finding a healthy peer group for support
If you join me on 28, my online fitness & nutrition program you’ll have me and my crew to support you every step of your journey. You’ll also gain access to our private Facebook community where there are thousands of people, just like you, who are taking positive action towards living fitter, healthier lives.