Advertising
Advertising

10 Simple Workouts You Can Do In Office

10 Simple Workouts You Can Do In Office

If you are like most people, you spend your life sitting.  Sitting at home, sitting in the car, sitting at work and sitting in the evening again.  This is the grim reality of 21st century adulthood, which leads to our society being the sickest, least mobile and body-aware we’ve ever been.  So what can we do?

For most people, our jobs force us to be sedentary and with technology being at the forefront of everything we do, we have become slave to our computers, laptops, iPads and mobile phones.  Are you the type who send emails to colleagues sitting 10 feet away from you?  We’ve become super lazy, and as a result, we have become super sick, super tired and less superman. Well, it’s time to change all that.  Getting yourself moving and understanding that your joints need love and that your muscles require to be worked is one of the greatest realizations that you can make. In this article, you’ll learn how easy it is to workout at the office with some simple and easy mini workouts designed to take up little of your effort and time.

But let’s first start with the excuse that we mutter to ourselves all too often.

Advertising

“I don’t have enough time to workout.”

We only believe that because we have been told a workout should last between 45 minutes–1 hour.  Yes if you are looking for specific adaptations, then this is a good amount of time to workout, but what if you really haven’t that amount of time? Mobilizing your joints is a workout, and that doesn’t require 45 minutes of your time. Here are 10 simple workouts you can do while in the office.

1. Ankle mobilization.

This can be done either standing or seated.  Simply remove your shoe, take one foot out in front of you and start by bringing the foot up so that your toes are facing you, and then move your foot away until it faces the floor.  Complete 10 repetitions. Now, begin to move the foot in a circular motion through its full range of motion. Do this 10 times to the left and then 10 to the right.  The intention here is to rotate the ankle joint through its full range of motion.

2. Chair squat.

Performing a squat can be very challenging, let alone getting your butt all the way down to the ground in perfect form, but by using your desk chair as a support, you will be able to work on improving your technique and at the same time, get the leg muscles (as well as the core) stimulated. Get yourself seated on the chair, place your feet hip width apart and hold your arms up in front of you at shoulder height. From that position imagine driving your feet into the ground and come to standing.  It’s important to note that when you are about to stand that your knees do not pass in front of your toes and that your first thought is going up rather than moving forward.  Repeat this exercise 10 times, 3 times daily.

Advertising

3. 1 leg touchdown.

Find a little space in your office because you’ll be moving around a little here.  Start by standing up straight and taking your right arm up above your head.  Take your right foot off the floor so you are standing only on your left.  Bend forward so that your chest is getting closer to the floor and maintain a straight back.  The aim then is to get your right hand to touch your left ankle.  When done, return to an upright position still on one leg. Repeat 4 times, and then change sides.  If you find the ankle a bit optimistic, then feel free to touch the knee cap first.

4. Eye revolutions.

Your eyes are a muscle and just like every other muscle in the body, they need a workout.  Our eyes tend to work in a very limited range, usually from keyboard to screen so it’s time you take them out of that comfortable zone and challenged your periphery.  Simply look up high in to your eyelids and hold there for 2 seconds, then as far left as possible, as low down and as far right as you can.  Once up, left, down and right have been done, start big clockwise circular motions with your eyes then anti-clockwise. Start with 10 big circles each side.

Advertising

5. Shoulder mobility.

Stand up tall and place your right hand on your left hip. Keep your arm straight and bring your hand up toward the sky, actively reaching away from you, then bring it behind the body much like the backstroke in swimming.  By keeping your eyes fixed on your hand throughout the movement, it will improve your proprioception (the brains awareness of its body parts in the space around it).   Repeat 8–10 times on each arm.

6. De-stress breathing.

This workout will probably serve you better than all the others put together.  If we can de-stress at the office, then productivity increases, as does mental capacity.  If you’ve ever done yoga or meditated before, then this is nothing new to you but if not, give this a try.  You’ll need at least 5 minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time to practice this breathing technique.  Inhale slowly through the nose and instead of inflating the lungs, breathe through the diaphragm. The way to understand this is to think of pushing out your Buddha belly when inhaling and when exhaling pull the belly button in toward the spine. This is simple, easy and super effective for calming nerves and helping you wash away those worries and stress.  Aim for a minimum of 4 seconds during both the inhalation and exhalation phase.

7. The power swing.

This workout is a little more dynamic than the others. Take both hands above your head and with your knees slightly bent, swing forward so that your chest is parallel to the floor.  Let the arms swing back behind your knees and then drive them forward and come to an upright position finishing in that start postion.  The idea here is to gain enough flexibility so that your hands sweep the floor in the lowered position.

Advertising

8. Lateral leg pendulums.

This is a great mobilizer for the hip joint.  Sitting all day causes inflexible hips, which can lead on to pain around the joint, so perform this exercise to help gain better all round hip movement.  Stand upright, take one leg off the ground and simply swing it to its end range left and right of the body.  It may be hard to balance at first so hold on to your chair for help.  Aim on keeping the body facing straight ahead and only allow the leg to swing.  You can perform a minimum of 20 repetitions each side.

9. Shoulder rotational stability.

This is a great way to strengthen the smaller muscles that surround the shoulder joint while sitting at your desk. In a seated position bring your arms high up to shoulder height so that from behind, your back looks like the letter T.  Make a fist and raise both thumbs into a thumbs up position.  Now start rotating the thumbs as far forward as you can to as far back as they go.  Keep rotating till you start to feel that nice muscles burning feeling in the shoulders.

10. The deep squat.

Every little child performs the deep squat with perfection and little thought.  They sit down and play for hours on end with their bums almost seated on the ground.  We’ve lost the ability to do this over the years due to our lack of mobility, but it’s a movement that we shouldn’t be shy to re-learn. Here you’ll need to counter your weight by holding on to the legs of your desk.  So grab hold, and with your feet shoulder width apart very slowly lower yourself as though you aim to sit on the floor.  Muscles tightness and joint compression will at first limit the depth of the squat, but as soon as you hit your end point hold there for 10 seconds. You can develop your range and one day get closer to the floor by being consistent in your attempts to deep squat.  It’s important to note that you need to keep your heels pressed to the ground and attempt to keep the back as straight as possible.

Having a workout needn’t be so time consuming.  As you can see there are plenty of ways to keep you from feeling like you have to drag yourself to the gym after work.  Work on mobility, movement and becoming more body aware for improved long term health.

Featured photo credit: photo credit:

More by this author

5 things you are NOT doing which will supercharge your dating potential 15 Do’s and Don’ts When Dating simple effective office workouts 10 Simple Workouts You Can Do In Office get your energy back 5 Sources Of Fatigue And How To Fight Against Them stay energized 15 Things You Can Do To Sustain Energy All Day

Trending in Fitness

1 What to Eat After a Workout (Revealed by Professional Trainer) 2 7 Best Lower Back Stretches for Relieving Pain 3 How to Build Endurance Fast and Enhance Stamina 4 7 Beginner Yoga Exercises for Men to Increase Mobility 5 When Is the Best Time to Work Out? (Science-Backed Answer)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 15, 2019

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

Shocked? Well, I was too.

The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

Advertising

Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

Your metabolism is like your bank account.

To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

Advertising

What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

That’s exactly how your body reasons:

More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

Foods That Increase Metabolism

Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

  • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
    When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
  • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
  • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
  • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

Advertising

  1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
  2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
  3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

Sugars and Carbs

Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial and packaged corn
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • All sorts of candies and lookalike
  • Packaged fruit juices and purees
  • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
  • Bread and flour-based products
  • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
  • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
  • Potatoes and potato starch products
  • Oatmeals and other grains
Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
  • All berries except strawberries
  • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White rice
  • All green vegetables

Fats

Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
  • Lard
  • Gmo oils
  • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
  • Nuts
  • Meat fat
  • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
  • Seeds
Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
  • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (organic)
  • Egg yolks (free-range)
  • Bone marrow

The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

Proteins

Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

Advertising

Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
  • Cheap whey proteins
  • Soy proteins
  • GMO meat
  • GMO eggs
  • Packaged meat
Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
  • Farmed fish
Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
  • Free-range meat
  • Free-range eggs
  • Wild meat and fish
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

Other Foods and Supplements

Cold water

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

MCT Oils or Powders

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

Caffeine

Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

Green Tea

Green tea

is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

Bottom Line

In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next