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Apr 12, 201811:59 AMOpen Mic

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Yes, you can be active at work!

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You can even strength train at work! One exercise for each major muscle group, performed correctly and with control using a resistance band, can significantly increase your muscle strength and joint range of motion. If you’re doing an exercise correctly, you will feel your muscles working after just 30 seconds of an exercise. In addition to strengthening your muscles, joints, and connective tissue, strength training can reduce muscular imbalances that lead to pain and injury, and enable you to perform better in sports or other recreational activities, and in your daily life in general.

Stretch bands are highly versatile, and can be used in a wide variety of exercises and stretches. Below are five band exercises that can be done at your workstation at any time during the workday. Try performing each exercise twice a week for 30 seconds at a time, allowing at least one day between exercises, to begin to experience an increase in strength.

  • Upper and center back: Hold band in both hands, extended forward at shoulder level and shoulder width apart. Stretch the band by pulling your arms open, and then pull band to center of chest. Visualize contracting your shoulder blades together toward the center of your spine.
  • Chest, thighs, and gluteals: Place band around your back and under your arms. Grasp band with each hand approximately 6 inches from ends. Stand with feet hip width apart. As you press your arms forward, lower your hips slightly with your weight toward your heels. Your upper body will tilt forward slightly to counter-balance your hips extending behind you as you squat.
  • Shoulders: Stand on one end of the band with your right foot. Grasp other end of the band in your right hand, so that the band is neither too loose nor taut when your arm is at your side. With palm down, slowly raise your arm to the side, reaching shoulder level, with your elbow slightly bent. For added balance challenge, lift your left leg to the side as you raise your arm. Repeat with the same number of repetitions on the left side.
  • Biceps: Stand on center of band with both feet. Grasp ends of band in both hands. With arms at sides and palms facing toward your body or forward, flex your elbows as much as you can and raise your hands toward your upper arm. For an added challenge, add a squat after each repetition of bicep curl.
  • Triceps: Grasp one end of band with your right hand; hang the band over your right shoulder. Place your left hand at the front of your right shoulder, grasp the band, and anchor it to your shoulder. Step back approximately 18 inches with your right foot. Lift your right elbow behind you as you tilt slightly forward. Straighten your right arm behind you by contracting the muscles at the back of your arm. Keep your upper arm raised behind you as you allow your elbow to bend slowly. For an added challenge, bend your right knee into a slight lunge as you extend your arm back.

Invest in yourself

To determine the exercises that are best for you, and how to work them into your workday, consider consulting a certified personal trainer whose expertise includes corporate fitness. Signing up for a few sessions with a trainer who understands your needs to define a series of short exercises to do at your workplace. A qualified trainer can also teach exercises to avoid if you have specific injuries or conditions, and help you sort through misinformation about exercise and health found in some media sources.

A trainer will also help you stay on track, balance your exercises to avoid both over- and under-use of muscle groups, and provide variations to keep the exercises from getting boring. (A 30-second exercise is less likely to get boring than a long routine, but our minds and bodies need variety to stay motivated.)

Taking time for self-care during your workday is no longer considered selfish or a waste of time. Today’s workplace can have a negative effect on people’s health, and successful organizational leaders have realized that employee health is a strong contributor to the health and future of the business. A few minutes of daily activity can enable you to work effectively and have energy left over for your life outside of the workplace.

Lisa Elsinger, Ph.D., is a Madison-area health promotion consultant and speaker.

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