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6 ways to get more incidental exercise into your work day

Every day it seems like there's a new study coming out about how sedentary our modern lives have become… and just how bad this is for our health. Our bodies were have evolved to move, to run, to walk, to lift, to jump, to squat and yet for the most of us we spend the vast majority of our day sitting down slumped over your desk. Now, changing your job is probably not the most feasible way to get more exercise, and for the most part it can even be hard to change the structure or way you work whilst doing your job, so instead, let's look at 6 ways which you can incorporate more incidental exercise into each and every day.

Hold up! What is "incidental exercise"?

Incidental exercise is any exercise or increase in movement that you can do whilst your doing something else, or in between doing other things. It's not a quick sprint between your desk and the board room (although that would be great), it's simple things to just get your body moving more throughout the day. These small bits of exercise independently won't give you a 6 pack anytime soon, but done multiple times throughout the day end up burning a lot of calories as well as keeping your muscles moving, your heart rate up and pumping more oxygen through your body to keep you going!

So what kind of incidental exercise can I do before I leave for work?

6. Sex (…but really #1)

There's no other way to say it but sex in the morning is a great way to get more exercise into your day. No doubt I'll cop some flack for calling sex "incidental exercise" but if you and your partner have the time in the morning then this is a no-brainer. Don't have time? Set your alarm a bit earlier and make time :) Not only does it burn calories (around 100 Calories per 25 minutes - SFW) it also releases a tonne of endorphins so you're going to be happier and in a better mood all day too!

5. Housework.

The decidedly less favourable option compared to number 1, but if you have time it burns calories and is a great way to get some incidental exercise in none the less. Now, for a lot of people this isn't feasible with the mad rush in the mornings, but for those that start a little later. Do a bit of vacuuming – just 15 minutes will burn around 70 calories, plus it means you can spend your weekend doing stuff you enjoy :)

What about on the way to work?

People on an escalator at a train station

4. Take the stairs not the damn escalator!

I (not as often as I should), take public transport into work and it's amazing how many able bodied people just on autopilot follow the person in front of them straight through the gates and onto the escalator when there's an empty set of stairs right next to it! Stairs are a fantastic way to get some more incidental exercise into your way to work. For me, I often change stations at Mascot in Sydney and there's 3 flights of stairs from the train level, all the way up to street level. If you want to make it even tougher, try really focusing on contracting your calve muscles and quads at the front when on your toes, or switch it up and push off your heels driving up through your hamstrings and glutes and really squeeze to feel the contraction. No stairs? Just power walk up the escalator. Yes, be one of those annoying people seemingly in a rush for no reason running up the right hand lane of the elevator!

3. Carry your bag/backpack in one hand, think Farmer's Walks with a Shrug

This is an easy one which you can do whilst commuting, simply take off your backpack and carry it in one hand whilst your walking, stand up nice and tall, suck your stomach in and contract your abs to keep you nice and upright. Continue like this for a minute or two and then swap hands and repeat. Being slightly off balance means your core needs to activate to keep you upright. If you're finding this too easy, simply combine this with a one arm shrug. Whilst your walking, keep your arm straight and lift your bag upwards, squeezing your shoulder up towards your ear. Still to easy? Add a few extra water bottles into your bag or backpack, this is like delicious weights you can drink and make lighter :)

Ok, what about incidental exercise at work?

2. Hold a Walking Meeting instead of using the board room or meeting rooms.

These are a favourite of mine, rather than gathering in a stuffy dark meeting room, take the opportunity to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and get moving. I can almost guarantee the outcomes from the meeting will be a lot more positive and creative than if you'd stayed in the office. If you need to take notes you can type these straight into your phone or even just record a voice memo… Hey Siri! Walking "meetings" are also great when you've got a conference call or phone meeting. Cease the opportunity to leave your desk and move!

1. Stop sitting!

This is possibly the easiest and most difficult one to overcome. Our work and home environments are designed to facilitate and encourage sitting down, but fight the urge and stand instead. You've got feet, legs, a butt, and a cerebellum – everything you need to stand up without falling over. This doesn't have to be a standing desk. If you have one of these and like it, fantastic. If you don't and your boss won't get you one it's not the end of the world, just find things you can do while standing. Need to go visit a colleague? Don't sit down. Having a meeting? Either go for a walking meeting or just stand up and chat. Even if you're writing lists or making calls or filing, stand up! Need to be lower… squat, just get your arse off the chair!
That's it, there's 6 ways to get more incidental exercise into each and every day. Come up with your own ways to do it and focus on the movement, the more movement the better! I'd love to hear your favourite incidental exercises below, just comment and let us know! Eat Well. Feel Great. Luke