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Why You’re Not Getting Any Results From Exercising at Work

Exercising at work can improve your health and beat down stress, provided you eliminate some common blunders.

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BY Wanda Thibodeaux - 10 May 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

There's an increasing obesity problem in America, and the sedentary environment of the typical modern business isn't exactly helping matters much--1 out of every 4 workers (27.7 percent) now meets the obesity criteria. Because weight ties so closely to health and mood, ultimately affecting productivity and employer expenses, "exercise at work" has become the new mantra. If you honestly want to feel and perform better, keep these mistakes out of your routine.

 

1. You use puny weights

Yeah. I know. Those 2-pounders fit awesomely into your desk drawer. And yes, technically, you can build muscle using light weights. The problem is, to improve strength without a lot of resistance, you have to do more reps. And when you've only got a tiny window of time before Meeting 8,473 of the week, it's tough to fit that in.

The fix: Do compound exercises that engage multiple muscle groups at a time, such as pushups or squats. Your own body weight offers much more resistance than small weights do, and by using more muscles, you get your heart rate up and burn more calories. If you truly want to use equipment, opt for bands, tubing or body weight suspension trainers like the TRX or Urbnfit. These are portable, take up very little space and incorporate well into dozens of functional body weight exercises. It's extremely easy to adjust the resistance by adding a tube/band or varying your grip, too.

 

2. You do the same exercises. (Every. Single. Time.)

I get that familiarity breeds warm, fuzzy feelings and wraps you in a safe place. But your body is a learning machine. In a bid to protect you, it is always trying to adapt to what you do. So if you don't vary up what you do in your exercises, pretty soon, the exercises won't be challenging enough and you'll plateau. Not only that, but you'll be more tempted to mentally disengage from the movements. At best, that translates to boredom and a lack of appreciation for what your body is accomplishing. At worst, it ups the odds of using crappy form, increasing your injury risk.

The fix: Keep a small journal or digital log of the exercises you completed. Familiarize yourself with basic muscle groups, such as back and chest or biceps and triceps. Make it your goal to rotate through all the major muscle groups through the week, and aim not to repeat the same exercise for each muscle group when the rotation comes back around. Every month or two, shift the overall program, such as doing kickboxing, Tabata and circuit training in the company gym instead of the treadmill, yoga and aerobic step. If you have to fit exercise into extremely brief windows, use a different location each time (e.g., at your desk, using the chair in the break room).

 

3. You don't exercise long enough

Let there be no misunderstanding--you do not have to do all your exercise at once. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting in aerobic sessions of at least 10 minutes. That's because

• anything less tends not to get your heart rate up enough.

• it takes time to maneuver through exercises safely with good form to the point of true failure, especially if using equipment.

The fix: Instead of inserting single sets or flash cardio into your one minute of down time, commit to using one of your breaks in its entirety to exercise, or hit the company gym before or after work.

 

4. You wear the worst outfits

Of course you need to wear clothes that represent you and your company well. But I'm pretty sure that a skirt and heels is inappropriate for doing downward dog, and that it's not going to be easy to whip out some squats in tighter dress slacks.

The fix: If you can, lean toward business casual with styles that are looser and allow more freedom of movement. Embrace breathable, easy-to-launder layers that are simple to remove or put back on, and keep a pair of workout shoes to slip into under your desk. If you absolutely must wear that $5,000 suit, use some common sense: Changing and getting in your 10 minutes before or after work is probably your best bet.

As you work out these kinks, remember to take advantage of any assistance your company might offer to help you exercise. For example, many businesses bring in nutritionists or group exercise leaders as part of their wellness programs, and don't miss out on perks the company might offer for participating in activities or using specific tools (e.g., Myfitnesspal, Fitbit).

 

Well? Why are you still sitting in front of the screen?