Unlock the secrets of mid-day office exercise
We all know by now that exercise and fitness have direct links to productivity. The International Journal of Workplace Health Management put the exact number at 23 percent more productive. Exercise has short-term benefits for focus, and the release of endorphins can lighten your mood and thus help make you a more engaging collaborator.
I conducted a highly unscientific test on myself and found, not surprisingly, that I was indeed more “open” to collaborative endeavors after clearing my head with a walk or focusing on my posture or my breath. In theatre class once upon a time, a professor taught the yoga-inspired tactic of imagining your spine on a string, and the string traveling up through the top of your head, which can then be used as a guide for vertical alignment when you catch yourself folding into a florescent-lit pretzel at the office. These little visualizations and gentle reminders can really make an impact.
You don’t have to drag out the Nautilus or turn up the office thermostat to bikram levels in order to benefit from a few solid stretches.
Not impressed? Let’s raise the stakes:
A severe slouch can facilitate a decrease in energy and even a descent into depression. Poor posture at your desk can reinforce bad habits that carry over while you’re standing, walking and driving. Oh, and too much sustained sitting can shave years off your life.
Even if you’re confined to a chair, though, you can do some simple exercises to say hello to your core, provided you aren’t too self-conscious.
Idle time – waiting for the printer, for example – can provide an excellent opportunity for covert mid-day exercise like calf raises, while regular desk objects like heavy water bottles can also come in handy. If you’re stuck on a conference call and just feel like boxing or shrugging your shoulders, good news: those can both useful exercises.
Granted, some of the advice for reversing this behavior just seems kind of… dumb. While disappearing down the rabbit hole of YouTube, I saw one video that ostensibly promoted exercises you could do right in the middle of the workday, except the demonstrator was shirtless, very sweaty, and using walls and chairs and desks as props in his fitness-quest.
The Washington Post has a great infographic featuring different mid-day exercises; you can find the one that offers the right mix of difficulty, sweat and humiliation for you. I personally recommend “The Hulk,” while beseeching my own neighbors to avoid anything that sends them airborne (and thus sends my desk bric-a-brac flying). Remember: the goal here is to be a better collaborator.