Fitness Articles

5-Minute Power Boosters for the Office

Keep Your Body Fit and Your Mind Alert

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Office life. If you let it, it can suck the energy right out of you. Or, you can take advantage of your workspace to put pep in your step and become more productive than ever.

Your office—where you spend 30% to 50% of your waking hours—can work for you or against you, depending on how you use it.

"The workplace is the forgotten arena of the self-improvement battle," explains SparkPeople Coach, Joe Downie. "But it’s the place where people need help the most! Stress is a huge factor in how well you perform at work. It clouds your thinking and wears you down," continues Coach Joe. "Without that energy, you lose creativity, concentration and motivation." In return, he says, all you gain is irritability and tension.

Of course, the most effective way to fight low energy is with a heavy dose of thorough stretching, proper breathing, and good posture. "There are plenty of power boosters all around you. You don’t have to drop everything and run to the gym." In fact, there are dozens of ways you can reduce stress and increase energy—within 50 feet of the office. (No special equipment required.)

For starters, he suggests five minutes of mental or physical activity for every hour you spend at the computer. People who sit at desks and computers for hours on end are most prone to dwindling production from low energy.

Get Physical
  • Go to the office staircase and step up and down the bottom step (like step aerobics).  
  • Massage your own head and shoulders. Find trigger points of tension in the shoulders, jaw, and base of the skull. Hold pressure for 6-10 seconds.
  • Take two steps back from your desk and lean forward until you’re in an angled pushup position against the edge of your desk. (This will also work against a wall.) Do a couple quick sets of incline push-ups.
  • Lift 1-3 packs of printer paper in each hand. Curl them like weights or lift them over your head.
  • Close your door and shadow box for a few minutes. Try to imagine a stressor while you’re punching.
  • Start a pick up game of trashcan basketball! Create trick shots, or play against a coworker. A little friendly competition can go a long way.
  • Jumping jacks are a simple, quick way to pump you up. Try to increase your intensity (speed) and duration (minutes) to keep it challenging.
  • Go for a short walk around the office or outside around the block.
  • Stand up and stretch your muscles. Don’t forget your neck and wrists.
  • Lastly, Joe’s favorite office exercise—using a stress ball. Squeezing a stress ball relieves stress while strengthening the forearms and wrists for typing. Continued ›
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About The Author

Mike Kramer Mike Kramer
As a writer and artist, Mike has witnessed countless motivational stories and techniques. See all of Mike's articles.

Member Comments

  • Great article. But it's up to you how you plan it out at work. The boss don't watch twenty four seven. - 5/26/2013 11:32:38 AM
  • I have an open cubicle and am always do little stretches here and there. Even directors have come by and never have I been told I'm being inappropriate (although I have been asked 'what the he$$ are you doing?'). You can do finger exercises, shoulder rolls, hold one leg up for 30 seconds then alter, and many are never noticed. I've done lunges even in the hall to the bathroom.

    Love the article and a great reminder. - 1/21/2013 7:30:19 PM
  • My bosses used to throw a Nerf football around inside the office when the company was smaller.

    It's been a while but I find that you don't get in trouble if you involve the bosses in the goofing around. It works when you get caught with funny cat photos from the Internet all the time.

    Of course, my office is a bit more casual than the financial centers probably are. - 10/3/2012 3:03:55 PM
  • Yes, not all of them are appropriate for everyone but many of them should be adaptable for each person. I don't have an office but we do have a one-at-a-time restroom at work so I do a lot of stretches and jumping jacks in there. I always take a walk around the block on my 15-minute break and sometimes on lunch.
    Even if you can't leave your desk you should be at least able to stand up for a minute or two at your desk or stretch your neck while doing something else.
    Yes, presenting it to your boss in the best way is better. You can kindly remind them that a few minutes of stretching is much better than a worker's comp claim for your stiff neck or carpal tunnel syndrome. (Ok that was snarky but you can find a nicer way to say it!) - 10/3/2012 3:00:26 PM
  • I don't understand why people are trashing this list, unless they just really aren't ready to consider doing something new. True, not everyone has an office door... so pick something else on the list. My office doesn't have stairs, big whoop... pick something else on the list.

    I'm not the boss so I'll get in trouble. are you sure? no managers in my office would disapprove of pushups at the desk or even throwing a ball around as much as we disapprove of smoke breaks or gaming and facebook at the desk. (Don't think we don't know about that, lol.) But let's say your boss is a total jerk.... pick something else on the list.

    The idea here is to provide variety... so are you sure there really is nothing here for you?

    - 10/3/2012 1:32:25 PM
  • Some of these I can see. Many are iffy. But come on, trash can basketball? Only if you want the stress of getting screamed at by your boss. The only time this might be ok is if your boss is playing, too (and there's no boss above them to come in and catch you playing around on company time)

    But hey, thanks for the funny article. Made me giggle. ;) - 10/3/2012 12:16:50 PM
  • These are all great suggestions! I work for local government, and in our building is a senior center; a lot of these ideas would be great to bring there as well. Thanks! - 10/3/2012 7:29:14 AM
  • This office door you speak of - I'm afraid that I'm not familiar with the concept.

    If I did have a mythical office door, I'm pretty sure my stress levels would drop automatically.

    I have a stress ball, I think the best way to use it to reduce stress is to throw it at people who annoy me. The trick is to act like it was a funny joke. - 6/25/2012 11:34:35 AM
  • I worked in the accounting dept of an internet company and would take many mini breaks. It worked for me. That and my lunchtime walk with a coworker who build websites. It was fantastic. - 6/15/2012 1:33:08 PM
  • same here...financial industry does not support healthy living activities, i've been stopped from using the stairs and now they installed a buzzer when u open the door - 6/14/2012 3:49:05 PM
  • Lots of negative comments and lots of positive, too. Not every work place is the same thus the need for plenty of suggestions. They might not all work for most but if some do or variations of some, then this article IS beneficial.

    By the way, as a commercial driver who sometimes has to drive 500 miles at a time, there are some great ideas here for drivers, too. I've got some long hauls coming up, so I'll be sure to give this a try! 5 minutes, every hour might be a life saver for any drivers or for the people around them! On the road, fatigue DOES KILL. Healthy diet and some mental and physical activity can do wonderful things for anybody! (oh, good idea, I'm going to take a kitchen timer with me to remind me!) :-D - 6/14/2012 8:06:53 AM
  • JANEEO
    When I was younger I worked in a Japanese owned electronic factory. Every hour they would have everyone stand up & they played music over the speakers, for five minutes or so, everyone would do stretches, jumping jacks, neck, shoulder & arm stretches. (as much as they were capable of). When I first started I thought it was really strange, but everyone enjoyed it. Less carpal tunnel & employees that were more relaxed. Might be a good idea for some businesses in the US to implement. - 6/22/2011 6:47:57 PM
  • HEALTHYISFUN
    Great article. Sitting is deadly. - 6/22/2011 10:23:37 AM
  • I sincerely apologize for being so negative, but the idea of "having an office" these days is laughable.A good portion of this list is completely irrelevant to the majority of office workers, since everyone but upper management is crammed into cube farms or open layout offices these days. Getting up and walking around every hour is the most reasonable idea on the list but...rearrange your office? Shadowbox? Pushups? These are not options on the typical office worker's plate. - 6/22/2011 6:54:11 AM
  • KYLEONA
    Labor laws require employers to allow you a lunch and x amount of breaks (determined by how many hours you work). I'm sure you could argue that these are done on your "break time" which is lawfully your time. I just did the 15 minute office workout and felt a little silly, plus our walls are so thin that I think I knocked something off my neighbors wall while doing wall pushups (oops!!!). But I like the idea of desk pushups! I'm going to print this out and put one in all my coworkers boxes, who knows maybe I'll start something! - 6/21/2011 8:50:01 AM
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