Improving your fitness while on the job

If you’re like many Americans, you have a job that is sedentary in nature.  Whether you work in an office, out of your home, or out of a vehicle, you spend most of your days on your posterior.  Technological advances in the last 30 years have eliminated about 2,000 calories that office workers of yesteryear burned in the course of the day.  So, how can you start burning a few more calories without changing the type of work that you do?

1) Modify your office space.

Even if you work in a cubicle or shared space, you can alter your area to burn more calories throughout the day.  Getting a fitness ball is a great replacement for your office chair.   Fitness balls promote proper posture, and engage your core as you sit at your desk.  You’ll make many small movements throughout the day when sitting on a fitness ball, and you’ll definitely burn more calories than sitting in a chair.

You can also inquire with your facilities manager about stand-up desks.  These are desks that taller, not designed for use with a chair.  This option will definitely burn more calories throughout the day than a traditional desk!

2) Meetings “on the go.”

For one-on-one meetings, consider discussing business while walking around the block a few times.  For informal meetings that don’t require PowerPoint or note taking, an on the go meeting is perfect.  Recommended for brainstorming, since movement fuels creative juices!

3) Lunchtime workouts with a partner.

If you have a fitness center at or near your work place, find a partner and start making your lunch hour a calorie-burning enterprise.  Finding time to workout is difficult, so lunchtime is perfect.  An hour is long enough for a 30-minute intensive workout and a shower.  Eat at your desk instead.  Another benefit of lunchtime workouts:  forget the 3 o’ clock doldrums; you’ll be too invigorated.

4) Take control of takeout.

If work will provide lunches for upcoming meetings or conferences, consider volunteering to handle the catering arrangements.  If you are in charge of ordering the food, you can ensure that there are plenty of healthy options to eat.

5) Keep healthy snacks in your drawer.

Preparation is the best way to avoid bad choices.  Forget getting snacks at the vending machine; start packing your own healthy options and keep them in your desk.  There are a bunch of choices:  whole grain, high fiber cereals, tuna packets in foil, nutrition/protein bars, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Great workouts on a tight budget

It’s been several years since the economic crisis exploded into our lives, and for many people, it’s been a time of cutting back.  If you’ve dumped your gym membership in an effort to save money, you’re not alone.  Just because you don’t have the money in the monthly budget to belong to a gym, that doesn’t mean you can’t get an effective workout and stay in shape.  There are several ways you can workout “on the cheap.”

Walking

Walking is the perfect beginner’s exercise; if you’re not accustomed to working out yet, chances are that walking will be the perfect starting point.  Experts recommend starting out with an easy 10-minute brisk walk.  Working your way up to 30 minutes or more is ideal, and you’ll want to get that heart rate up as you’re walking.  Attach a pedometer to your hip, and try getting in at least 8,000-10,000 steps each day, and you’ll start seeing some great fitness benefits.

Running

Jogging and running are another classic cheap workout.  Getting started in running is more intensive than walking, and looking into a program like Couch To 5K is the perfect way to integrate running into your daily grind.  We’re warning you; running is very addictive!  Once you get started, it’s very possible you’ll catch the bug.  Marathons are exploding in popularity, with thousands of new runners each year getting in on the action.

Exercise DVDs from the Public Library

If you have a DVD player, you can get a wide variety of workouts using DVDs.  The library is a terrific resource for workout DVDs, and it’s hard to get tired of a workout when you’re constantly trying new ones.  If you find a DVD you really like, chances are you can get it used on sites like eBay or Amazon at a great savings.  All of this is a fraction of the monthly cost of most gyms.

Free Weights

Now, getting a set of free weights is not exactly “cheap,” but it certainly pays for itself in a few months as compared to a monthly gym membership or buying an elliptical machine for your garage.  You don’t need an extensive set unless you’re a bodybuilder, and let’s face it; bodybuilders pretty much have to belong to a gym anyway.

You can get a wide-ranging and complete resistance workout with a modest set of free weights.  Consider searching Craigslist for locals looking to get rid of theirs at a cut-rate price.  Exercise equipment ends up taking space in a lot of homes, collecting dust.  You can benefit from someone else’s clutter purge!

Once you have some free weights, you can get a variety of training books from the local library to design a program you can implement right at home.

Looking for a heart rate monitor?

by KB on September 30, 2010
in Fitness workouts

If you purchase nothing else to support your new exercise regime, be sure to invest in a reliable heart rate monitor. We’re not talking about the top-of-the-line model with all of the bells and whistles; a basic model will work just fine.

How a Heart Monitor Works
A traditional unit has two parts: a chest strap and a wrist watch. The strap fits comfortably around your chest and registers your heart beats, sending this information (wirelessly) to a display on the watch. The watch will show your heart rate, exercise time, and average rate. You will be able to set the monitor to alert you when your rate goes below or above your desired range.

This simple device can act as your personal training by helping you:

Accurately Measure your Heart Rate
As you work out, it is critical to gradually increase your heart rate, maintain it at a steady and appropriate level, and decrease it slowly. The best way to make sure your heart is beating as it should during exercise is to view it on the watch display. The only other way to get this information is to manually take your pulse which can be difficult to get right; especially for beginners.

Moderate Exercise Intensity
It is important to not over-do it when you first begin exercising. A monitor will let you know if your training is too strenuous for your fitness level. On the flip side, it will also tell you if you are not training hard enough.

Get Motivated and Track your Progress
Having goals is one of the best ways to stay motivated with an exercise routine. The monitor will allow you to set straightforward goals such as maintaining a defined rate for a set amount of time. You will be able to judge your improvement over time by recording your heart rate data after each workout (some more advanced monitors will let you download this information to your computer). Your successes will motivate you to work harder and you will know when you need to reset your goals.

How to Interpret the Numbers
The changing number on the display represents your current heart rate, i.e. the number of times your heart will beat in one minute’s time. A beat is technically a contraction of the lower ventricles of the heart. You’ll want to learn what these numbers mean to you. To find your maximum heart rate take 220 and subtract your age. Your target zone is between 50% and 80% of this number. For example, if you are 36 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 184 (220-34). Your heart rate range will be between 92 (50%) and 147 (80%) as you are working out. As your fitness improves your heart will slow down while doing the same amount of exercise. This will encourage you to work harder to maintain the same rate.

Before you splurge for the latest and greatest running shoe or fashionable workout wear, pick up a heart rate monitor and start using it from day one of your new exercise routine.

Elizabeth Dennis has been writing health and beauty articles for three years. She regularly contributes to the hair removal surgery guide and the cough treatments guide.

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