September 21, 2023

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‘Fitness snack’ exercise fits into workday at office or home

3 min read

Throughout the pandemic, corporate workers found ways to thrive while working remotely. Companies evolved, travel declined, and employees enjoyed significantly more flexibility in their daily routines. Now that covid has largely subsided, companies are evaluating their return-to-work strategy.

We should talk about how going back to the office could work out — especially as it relates to living an active life. Plus, I will share an exercise that’s perfect for just about any office.

If you spend five minutes on LinkedIn, a social media platform for professional networking, you’ll find an article about “hybrid vs. onsite” work policy. It is a hot topic, particularly among companies that had an in-office-only work policy before the pandemic. In these cases, management contends that employees need to be physically together to collaborate, create and experience the unintentional meetings that lead to innovation and growth.

But employees enjoy the enhanced work/life balance associated with hybrid work, and many resist returning to the office full time.

This creates a problem that’s not easy to solve, especially as it relates to the physical and mental health of employees.

It’s true that working remotely gives people more free time. There is no commute, no extensive personal appearance preparation, and it’s possible to mingle personal tasks with work time more easily. Having more time can, in turn, result in more physical activity, better nutrition and lower stress levels.

But will more time ultimately equal better health? Only time will tell. Until then, it’s probably best to implement a hybrid exercise routine that can be modified to suit an in-office or at-home workday.

This week’s exercise is a perfect example of such an exercise, as it only requires an office chair and a little will power. The Office Chair Reverse Crunch is one that I like to perform midday, right between back-to-back calls.

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1. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your knees at 90 degrees. Make sure your posture is very upright and your abdominals are engaged. Abdominal engagement is key here. Brace yourself.

2. Place your left hand on your lower abdomen to feel the muscles engage throughout the movement.

3. From here, lift up the right knee a few inches. Pause for a few seconds, then lower it back down.

4. Do the same with the left foot. Now, try it with both feet.

5. Continue this pattern of right, left, and both knees until you have performed 12 repetitions.

6. Perform two or three sets of 12.

I love this exercise because it’s appropriate for any fitness level. Beginners can easily feel their core engage using one leg, while more advanced exercisers can use both feet to get a mini-workout. It’s flexible, modifiable and appropriate for any environment.

As the corporate world continues to define what the future looks like, I have a feeling that exercise routines will evolve as well. Little “fitness snacks” like the Office Chair Reverse Crunch can’t replace a solid gym-based workout, but they can add up to benefits during the workday. Enjoy!

Matt Parrott began this column 20 years ago at Little Rock. He has a doctorate in education (sport studies), a master’s in kinesiology and is director of business development and population health solutions for Quest Diagnostics.

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