Happy Human Habit #2 – Have a Workout Snack

Life is stressful.

Sometimes so stressful that we forget to take care of our bodies.

Workouts are pushed aside. Once that first skipped workout happens, it becomes easier and easier to skip another workout, and on down the line.

How can we fit physical activity into our busy lives?  Start small.  Start with a “snack”. A workout “snack” is an exercise or a mini-workout (5 minutes or less) that you can incorporate throughout the day. These mini-workouts add up to a substantial and effective workout, keeping your body and mind healthy even after a busy day.

What kind of exercises can be done throughout the day? This can be tricky, especially in the office with limited space and a desire to not get too sweaty. There are a variety of exercises that you can do to keep you strong and feeling good throughout the day.Try adding one or two of these exercises every couple hours. Some of these may seem extremely simple, but when done multiple times throughout the day they will maintain if not increase your strength!

Workout Snack #1 – Core Bracing

I love this because it requires almost no movement and can be done right at your desk.

How it works: Stand, sit or lie down. Now tighten your abdominals, almost like you are bracing for a punch in the stomach. Imagine pressing your abdominals forward, your obliques(the sides of your abdominals) out to the side, and your low back backwards, while keeping everything rigid and strong. Hold this position for about 5-10 seconds, and don’t forget to breathe!  Repeat for 1-3 minutes.

Workout Snack #2 – Squats

I love this because it requires almost no movement and can be done right at your desk.

Stand up from your desk, push your chair aside. Now send your butt backwards as if you were going to sit down in your chair – go as low as you can and then stand back up. Keep your torso, head, and eyes looking forward. Keep your knees in line with your hips and toes (don’t let them drop in toward each other). Try 10 repetitions. If that’s too easy, try 10! repetitions (that’s 10 factorial which means 10 reps, then 9 reps, then 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1) Bonus! – Add push-ups in between the squats to give yourself a “rest”.

Workout Snack #3 – Stretching Extravaganza!

Stretching is under utilized by a lot of active people, but is very important in our muscle health. Incorporate stretching exercises into your day to keep your muscles active and feeling good.

Hip Flexor Stretch: This one is especially important for people who sit all day. To effectively stretch the hips, start in a kneeling position, with right knee forward and the left knee rested behind you. From there, tighten the left glute muscle while keeping both bottom leg and upper leg from leaning too far forward. For an extra stretch, reach the left arm across the body to the right, stretching the hip muscle even farther. Hold this position for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, then repeat on the other side.

Seated Pigeon Stretch: Another great stretch to our muscles after sitting for long periods! While seated, bring your right foot up and rest it on top of your left knee. From there, you can bend forward over your right leg, or slowly press your right knee towards the ground for an extra stretch. Hold this for 30 seconds to a minute then repeat with the other leg.

W’s: While seated, standing, or lying down (as long as your back is pressed against the chair, wall, or floor), press your elbows, forearms, and hands against the surface your back is pressed on (Like you are making a “W” with your hands and head). From there, slowly press your arms up against the surface as high as you can, while trying to keep everything pressed firmly against that surface. Then slowly bring your arms back down as far as you can, squeezing your shoulder and back muscles. You should feel a great stretch in your upper, mid, and lower back, as well as your chest muscles.