Let's get one thing out of the way with an office workout.
No one likes to sweat at work, even if it is to the oldies. This plan for a low-impact workout is not designed to get your heart racing--save that for the gym. It is a daily routine you follow just to take a break, stretch, and go for a walk around the building or on a treadmill. It's meant to give you an energy boost.
This routine is meant to be highly regimented. There's a reason for that. We're more productive when we have created a self-imposed time limit. We stick to the plan. This even applies to a quick office workout, and maybe even more because most of us have a tendency to see a workout like this as highly optional. It's not. Workplace studies like the one conducted at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found that holding a stiff posture all day and working too long on a keyboard can lead to workplace injuries--or worse. An office workout is no longer optional.
Note: Make sure you find a place to do this that's not going to interfere with anyone or cause a commotion. You'll want to make sure you don't bump into anything or anyone.
Minute One: Prepare
Don't start stretching right away! As with my seven-minute morning routine, the first step is to make a big show of preparing for the workout. Clear your area, lay out a quick yoga mat, organize the weights you keep in a drawer. Why do that? Preparing for the workout is almost as important as the workout itself. You're preparing your mind for the physical activity. You are also creating a bridge between typing furiously at a keyboard and then suddenly touching your toes.
Minute Two: Breathing
Now, spend a few seconds breathing in and out with a steady pattern. Think about one thing that is stressing you out or making you feel unhappy. Decide--right now!--to just let that go. This office workout is no place for stressful thoughts. Just sit quietly or stand and breathe without thinking about work. Think of something really positive (say, getting some coffee later).
Minutes 3-6: Do any workout
This is the bulk of the office workout. It's also where you get to decide what you do. Remember: This is supposed to be fun! Don't do the same thing every day. In my experience, varying the workout is what makes it enjoyable, and when it's enjoyable, you will look forward to it. For four minutes, just stretch, lift a few weights, or walk around the cubicle farm. Make it simple. The idea is to move for four minutes. That's it.
Minute 7: Relax and revel
We didn't exactly go for the elevated heart rate here, did we? That's OK. This is a simple technique designed to get you away from the keyboard. The goal is to get a change of pace, to breathe, and to stretch. For the last minute, just loosen up a little or think about your motivations for doing this, your challenges for the day, and any big wins from the day or the week. Revel in the fact that you just spent a few minutes away from the stress and the bustle of work...and you pumped up your mental energy.
The reason this is a seven minute period is that we need to spend 5-10 minutes in sustained attention in order to make something a habit. I've split the difference on that estimate, which comes from cognitive scientists, and made it seven minutes. Sadly, not doing an office workout is incredibly bad for your health, which is why I recommend doing this routine daily.
Did it work for you? Drop me a note by email. I want your feedback.