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You’ve probably heard that sitting is the new smoking — a study from the American Cancer Society suggests that a sedentary lifestyle (sitting for more than six hours a day) is linked to a higher risk of death from 14 diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
But if you have a desk job with long hours, how can you avoid sitting your life away? For starters, make sure you’re as active as possible outside of work — hit the gym, do chores and enjoy active hobbies. Second, consider upgrading to a standing or treadmill desk, if possible. Third, take a walk between meetings or during your lunch, and skip the elevator in favor of the stairwell. And finally, don’t be shy about doing a workout right in your cubicle — every bit of movement adds up throughout the day to increase your health, reduce stress and burn calories. The key is consistency.
“Do your best to create a routine,” says Vince Sant, certified trainer and co-creator of the fitness platform V Shred. “Whether you get to the office 15 minutes early and do it then or do it right after lunch or right before your commute home, just make a decision and do it at least Monday, Wednesday, Friday at the same time. This way, it becomes less of a choice and more of a habit.”
Ready to get started? No equipment is required for this high-intensity interval training bodyweight workout, which allows you to do it anywhere (even in a hotel room, if you travel for business). Of course, if your office requires stuffy business attire, you might want to bring an extra set of clothes that you feel comfortable moving around (and sweating) in.
For each exercise, perform it at max intensity for 30 seconds and rest 15 seconds before beginning the next move. After you have moved one by one through all seven exercises, you have completed one round. Aim for two to three rounds or as many as you have time for:
Let’s begin with this common full-body exercise to get your heart rate up. Start by jumping up off the ground, with your hands raised up above your head. Upon landing, you will bend down, put your hands on the floor in front of you and kick your legs back so that you are in push-up position. Do a push-up, then hop your feet forward toward your hands, stand up and explode into another jump. Repeat.
2. Plank Hip Dip
Get down onto your elbows and feet for a dynamic variation of a plank. Start by making sure your back is straight and your core is engaged. Rock your left hip down to one side until it touches the floor. Then lift your hip back up and dip your right hip down to the other side. Repeat.
3. Ab Bicycles
Lie on your back, resting your hands on the back of your head with your elbows flared out. Then raise your legs up off the ground. Engage your core as you bring one knee up and crunch the opposite elbow down to meet halfway. Return back to the starting position and do the same with the other knee and elbow. Repeat.
4. High Knees
It’s time to get on your feet and use a jumping core exercise to engage your lower abs even more. Place your hands out in front of you, about waist high, with your palms facing down. From there, you will raise one knee up until it touches your palm, then in a jumping motion, you will bring your other knee to your other hand while returning your previous leg to the ground.
5. Cross-Body Mountain Climber
This is a slight variation of a mountain climber to better engage obliques while keeping your heart rate up. Starting in a push-up position, rather than taking your knee and driving it straight up like you would for a traditional mountain climber, raise your right knee and drive it up and across your body to your left elbow. Return your foot back to its starting position, then repeat this move with the opposite leg. Take your left knee and drive it up and across your body to your right elbow. This additional rotation will help engage your obliques and get those “V” cuts.
6. Alternating Jump Lunge
Moving into an explosive lower-body movement next, start by getting into a lunge position with your feet staggered. From there, you will drop your back knee down 2 inches from the floor and explode up, jumping into the air and switching feet. On landing with your feet in opposite positions, repeat the exact same lunge movement.
7. Cross-Body Crunch
Getting down on the floor for the last exercise, extend your arms straight above and spread your legs so you’re in a star position. From there, you will bring your right arm and left leg up off the ground and tap your toe halfway. Then return your leg and arm back down to the ground and repeat with your other leg and arm.
“Once you’ve completed the workout, expect to have a good sweat rolling and your muscles on fire,” Sant says. “Depending on how many rounds you’re doing, this is going to be a five- to 15-minute full-body workout that will deliver far greater results than an hour of jogging could ever do. Plus, the endorphins released in your body and your increased circulation will help you feel good and energized for the rest of the day.”