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How to Fit Fitness into Your Day

As we enter the new year, many of us have pledged to lead healthier lives. One positive change is to add physical activity into our daily schedules. Of course, making the time for a new exercise regimen can be difficult, but it's important to try to fit in fitness wherever possible.

If you spend your workday sitting in front of a computer, you may be doing your body harm in the long term. Over time, people who sit for a long time without moving are more likely to have joint, bone and posture problems. It can also increase the risks for:

  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Metabolic syndrome

Work out at work
Our bodies were made to move, but your job may require you to sit at a desk for eight hours a day. To lower the harmful effects of being inactive without sacrificing productivity, try these tips:

  • Take the stairs, not the elevator.
  • Have marked walking trails at your office, both inside and out.
  • Stand every time you talk on the phone or have a conference call.
  • Set a timer to remind you to get up at least every hour and stretch.
  • Use a tall table at lunch and encourage your lunch bunch to stand while you eat.
  • Walk to deliver messages whenever possible.
  • Walk to a rest room or fountain area that is a little farther away.
  • Don't look for the closest parking space. Park farther from work to add more steps to your day.
  • Be sure to schedule "movement breaks" at meetings lasting longer than 30 minutes.
  • Keep stretch bands or therabands at your desk to help you move and stretch.

Stretch at your desk
These easy stretches can help ease tension and strain in your joints and muscles. You can do them seated or standing. Breathe easily while doing the stretches, don't force or bounce and really feel the stretch.

  1. Shrug your shoulders: Breath in deeply and lift your shoulders up to your ears. Hold the shrug, then breathe out and drop your shoulders. Repeat three times.
  2. Stretch your arms: Clench your fists and stretch your hands out in front of you. Use your fist to draw circles in the air, first in one direction, then the other, for a total of 20 seconds. Shake out your hands.
  3. Give yourself a bear hug: Place your hands on your opposite shoulders (or your shoulder blades if you can reach that far), hug yourself tight and breathe in and out for 15 seconds.
  4. Stretch your neck muscles: Tilt your chin as far forward as it can go, dropping your head. Hold for a few seconds, then gently lift your chin and tilt your head back. Drop your left ear to your left shoulder and hold for a few seconds. Repeat on the other side, then repeat on each side again.
  5. Do leg extensions: Hold on to the seat of your chair for balance. Extend both of your legs in front of you so they are parallel to the floor. Flex and point your toes five times. Lower your legs and repeat.

Sources: American Diabetes Association, National Institutes of Health

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