Creative Exercise at Work?
November 23, 2009 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Help me figure out unique ways to get some activity during a work day to keep me healthy and occupied as I quit smoking

I work in a basic cubicle farm. I feel very energetic during the day, but not so much when I get home. What I'd like to do is find ways to vent this energy while here, so that I get just a wee bit of exercise during a typical day.

Additionally, I have just begun quitting smoking, and it's hard to get rid of the habit of getting up and heading downstairs for a smoke every hour or so.

So, what can I do while at work? I'm on the 18th floor, but cannot take the stairs up (stupid one-way security doors), only down. I can take a walk around the block, but it's getting cold. I could do bodyweight squats and pushups in my cube, but then I look silly to all the people around me.

What creative ideas do you guys have?
posted by phrakture to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Replace your chair for an exercise ball, great for balance and core; bounce and your legs will benefit. Congrats!
posted by kgreerRN at 2:11 PM on November 23, 2009

Exercise in the stairway?
posted by bravowhiskey at 2:18 PM on November 23, 2009

The problem with using the stairway is that once I go in, I need to go all the way to the basement and take the elevator back up. This is ok every so often, but only going down the stairs can get a bit dull and tedious
posted by phrakture at 2:24 PM on November 23, 2009

Additionally, I have just begun quitting smoking,

Congratulations. You won't believe it for the first couple of days, but you really be much happier in the long run. If you haven't already done so, you may want to look at The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr. It provides a really useful framework for quitting that seems to have a much higher success rate than nicotine replacements or cold turkey. (This based on my experiences at work and watching people fail repeatedly until they finally read it or use Chantix). Either way, good luck.

and it's hard to get rid of the habit of getting up and heading downstairs for a smoke every hour or so.

Not really. Though after three years, I still don't really take breaks. It's just something I never got back in the habit of after reclaiming them from smoke time. The only thing you might miss is knowing what it's like outside. While you are quitting, I'd advise against finding out, because it's easier if you just make a complete and total break from the way you used to do things.

As for exercise, if you are anything like me, once you quit, you will slowly but inexorably develop more and more energy. It will probably manifest as fidgeting and a desire to move around. I directed this manic-ness at our staircases. I'm on the third floor of my office building and I decided that I was going to take the stairs from that point forward. It took me a couple of weeks to get the burning out of my legs, but now I don't even think about it.
posted by quin at 2:45 PM on November 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

How about instead of just walking down the stairs to the basement you walk up a few flights first and then all the way down to the basement/elevator? Or walk up a few flights two steps at a time? Do that for 10 minutes and you should get a pretty good workout.

I work in an industrial park setting, so I like to walk around the block a few times after I eat my lunch. It's not much exercise, but it is certainly better than nothing.
posted by johnio at 2:49 PM on November 23, 2009

@quin: Thanks. I'm on day 22 now (according to this little app on my phone that tracks how much I've saved and things like that). I am using patches and am doing well so far.

I try to take the stairs everywhere else I can, but it's impractical at work. Maybe I'll try going up a few flights, then coming back down around lunch time

I'd also like to try to get some upper body type work in. Maybe I'll get some kettle bells to carry around the office for the hell of it :)
posted by phrakture at 3:06 PM on November 23, 2009

Learn how to play finger cymbals.

This is the site I'm using right now. No affliation with the site other than the fact that I'm taking bellydance classes at the moment. You don't need to have actual cymbals to practice, just tap your middle finger and thumb together. It's discreet (once you get the patterns in your head and don't have to listen to the music) and gives you something to do with your hands. (For extra fun, try doing this holding your arms straight out from your sides.)
posted by sperose at 3:20 PM on November 23, 2009

I'm trying to stay quit myself. Taking smoke breaks was an integral part of my daily work routine. I still get up to leave my desk a lot.

Can you just get up and walk laps around the cubicles? What about visiting co-workers to chat every once in a while? When I quit smoking, I found it really helpful to drink lots -- and I mean LOTS -- of water. Handles the oral fixation, and getting up to pee every half hour will certainly get you away from your desk.

Good luck -- the first couple months are the hardest!
posted by ubermuffin at 7:09 PM on November 23, 2009

There are some isometric exercises you can do discreetly at your desk. Assuming your desk is heavy, try putting your palms flat on top of or underneath the desk surface and pushing. You can also put your palms together in front of you and use them to push each other - lots of muscle tension generated, but little to no movement. Try clenching your abs/biceps/thighs/etc. and holding for as long as you can. Do kegel exercises. Rest a heavy book or binder on one knee and lift your heel off the floor over and over again while you're sitting there. None of this is going to make you look like a body-builder, but it's something.

Personally I've found walking to be a lot more satisfying than these things, if only to get some fresh air and sunshine. But if you want to stay indoors and get a little more movement... Do 10 squats in the stall every time you go to the bathroom, if nobody else is in there. Do calf-raises on a step in the stairwell before you walk those long flights down. Do pushups against the wall or some side leg-raises if you find yourself alone in the office kitchen waiting for the microwave.
posted by vytae at 7:39 PM on November 23, 2009

QUIN IS 100% RIGHT about Easyway in fact that's what finally got me to quit last August, after seeing Quin and several other Mefites talk it up. It really is just as good as they say. Magic! Well worth reading, even now while you're on the patch. You will not regret it.

I thought that I would miss breaks. Then I added up how much time I spent on breaks every day! About 90 minutes per day! Think of what you could do with that hour and a half!

If you want some upper body work, get a small set of barbells and do curls or whatever they're called. Seems like every office I've worked at has one person who keeps barbells on their desk. It's not so weird, just a little quirky. And if you tell people "Well I just quit smoking," they will excuse you just about anything!

How about once or twice a day (as a mid-morning and mid-afternoon break) you go all the way downstairs, while pumping some barbells, then take the elevator back up?
posted by ErikaB at 9:27 PM on November 23, 2009

If your building has a parking garage you could walk from the bottom to the top up the ramps or stairwells.
posted by Daddy-O at 7:26 AM on November 24, 2009

Take up yoga. There are a lot of poses you can do in the bathroom, or in a stairwell, or behind closed doors that'll both relax and challenge you, both mentally and physically. The exertion and focus required might be just the thing.
posted by gb77 at 4:22 PM on November 28, 2009

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