#407 5/4/2010 WORKING OUT AT WORK

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If your desk isn't cluttered, you probably aren't doing your job.

Harold S. Geneen

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Surviving the Desk Job: How to Stay Healthy at Work

ByBy Stephanie S. Saunders

When we started school, oh so many years ago, no one had to explain to us that the human body was not designed to sit in a chair for 8 hours at a time. Somehow, we inherently knew that we needed recess, physical education, lunch, and even naptime. Even that walk uphill, both ways, in the snow, barefoot, was just part of what we needed to do. So we worked all of those years, graduated to our dream job, and ended up sitting in a cubicle for 8 hours without moving. Sure, we use the facilities, maybe go out to lunch, but mostly we sit on our backsides with horrible posture and stare at a computer screen. At around 4 PM, we begin to search for a pick-me-up, and end up eating candy and soda from the break room. Sure, at age 12, we thought free junk food was like winning the lottery. But as adults, we end up feeling flat-out yucky. We vow that tomorrow will be different, but we are so exhausted from a sedentary lifestyle, that change seems impossible.

Woman in Business Attire Flexing Her Bicep

The good news is that a desk job does not have to be so stagnant. If something in motion stays in motion, then we need to find ways to keep moving. And with a bit of food preparation, we can actually avoid the Snickers® bar. Let's look at some ways to stay healthy at work.

Get Out of that Chair

Woman Sitting on Swiss Ball at Her DeskSometimes it seems impossible to step away from your desk. People in Hollywood get fired for missing a call, an email, or taking too long a lunch. Here is the deal: They cannot fire you for standing up, going to the bathroom, or getting more water from the cooler. If your workplace is not completely rigid, switching your chair out for a Swiss ball a few times a day can make a huge difference in your posture. Even just standing up next to your desk can give your back the break from compressing that it desperately needs. So stand up, roll your shoulders back a few times, and breathe deeply. Go fill up a water bottle, which will give you even more reasons to stand up, as you will need the restroom. And set a timer to go off once an hour, so that you remember to do it. Sometimes that Excel® spreadsheet is so fascinating, we forget about everything else. (Yeah, right.)

Speaker or Tweaker?

Did you realize your phone can be dangerous? No, this is not a lecture on driving with cell phones. Cradling a phone to your shoulder for extended periods of time can actually lead to misalignment, strains, and slipped discs. They still make fancy phones with a cradle for your shoulder, but they don't extend quite high enough. Try a wireless or corded variety of headset, which sometimes can be less expensive than their Bluetooth® cousins. Forty bucks on a headset is better than multiple trips to the chiropractor. Or if what you are discussing is not sensitive, put the person on speakerphone. The coworker next to you might not appreciate it, but your neck will.


You can stretch your entire body in a cubicle—a lot of it while sitting down. Here are some stretching options, which will release lactic acid buildup and help with structural alignment.

  • Neck: Lean right ear to right shoulder until you feel a stretch along the left side of your neck, hold for 10 seconds, switch to the other side. Lower chin to chest until you feel a stretch along the back of your neck, hold for 10 seconds. Lift chin toward ceiling, until you feel a stretch along the front of your throat, hold for 10 seconds. Look over your right shoulder, hold for 10 seconds and then over your left.
  • Shoulders: Extend both arms over head, interlace fingers, turn palms, and push up. Then interlace fingers with palms up behind back, lean forward slightly from waist, and lift arms away from your body.
  • Arms: Extend arm straight across your body, grasp forearm, and pull extended arm toward your body. Repeat with other arm. Then sit up in your chair, open your knees, and place your palms flat on the chair between them, with your fingertips facing you, and thumbs toward your knees. Push down on your flat palms.
  • Man Stretching at His DeskChest: Lift both arms out to the side, creating a "T" with them. Bend at the elbows, so your hands are going straight up to the ceiling, and you resemble a football goalpost. Pull your elbows back and hold.
  • Back: Sit up as tall as you can, and pull in your stomach muscles to your spine. Extend one arm across to the opposite arm of the chair, and twist. Hold for 10 seconds, and switch to the other side.
  • Quadriceps/Hamstrings: Stand at your desk. Bend one knee behind you, lifting your foot off the floor and catching it with the same hand. Don't lock your supporting leg; hips tucked under, and both knees together. Switch to other leg. Then place one foot on the desk in front of you, keeping the foot flexed and the knee straight. Put fingertips on leg, or desk, and with a flat spine, lean forward. If that isn't possible, flex one foot on floor in front of you, and lean forward with a flat spine.
  • Calves: Stand arms' length away from your desk, both toes facing the desk. Step forward with one foot, and bending the knee, keeping the back knee straight and pushing down in the heel. Switch.
  • Feet: Remove shoes if possible. Stand in front of desk. Form a "V" with your feet, heels together and toes pointed out at slight angles. Bend knees first, then lift up your heels, and hold for 5 seconds. Straighten knees and lower heels. Repeat 5 times.

Exercise Your Options

The following office exercise options are chair-based exercises for our more modest readers. If you are less aware of the stare, try adding some push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, dips, and squats to this routine. If you have an office with a door that closes, get yourself INSANITY® right now and skip this entire section. For the following exercises, you'll need an exercise band, like the flat Thera-Band® variety, which can easily be stored in your desk. And if your chair wheels easily, put the brake on now.

  • Chest press: Place band around back of chair, looping the ends of the band in each hand. Sit on the edge of your chair with abs pulled in tight, and straight posture. Press arms straight out in front of you, keeping them parallel to the ground. Hold for 2 counts. Fold elbows in and bring back of hands to chest. Repeat 10 times. Can also be used as chest fly, by slightly bending elbows and bringing hands together in front of you, like you are hugging a tree.
  • Row: Wrap resistance band around the leg of your desk. Sit facing it, both feet on ground, and abs pulled in. Grab one end of band in each hand; bend your arms and slide your elbows back, grazing the sides of your body. Hold for 2 counts, and return your arms to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
  • Lateral raises: Sit on the edge of your chair, place both feet on the center of the band, and take an end of the band in each hand. Keeping a very slight bend in the elbow joint, bring both arms out to your sides creating a "T" with them. Hold for 2 counts, and lower your arms back to the sides of your legs. Repeat 10 times.
  • Posterior deltoid exercise: Hold band, hands 9 to 12 inches apart. Extend arms straight out in front of you, chest level, rolling shoulders back and down, keeping elbows as straight as possible. Open up arms to your sides, hold for 2 counts, and return your arms to the straight position. Repeat 10 times.
  • Man in Business Attire Doing Bicep CurlsCurls: Sit on edge of chair and place both feet in center of band, or wrap band under the legs of the chair. Grab one end of band in each hand. Keeping elbows glued to your sides, bend both elbows and bring hands up toward shoulders. Hold for 2 counts, and lower your hands. Repeat 10 times.
  • Tricep extensions: Wrap band low around desk leg, and face away from it. Reach behind you, grab ends of band in each hand, and extend both hands to ceiling, with thumbs facing behind you. Hold for 2 counts. Keeping your elbows exactly where they are, let elbows bend slowly until hands reach ears. Extend arms straight toward ceiling again. Repeat 10 times.
  • Knee abs: Sit on edge of chair, tuck pelvis under slightly, and draw abs deeply into your spine. Lift your heels off the ground, and lift one knee at a time. For a super challenge, lift both knees at the same time, making sure to maintain a C-curve in your spine (keep your abs firmly tucked in). Repeat 10 times.
  • Leg extensions: Tie one end of band around the base of your chair. Tie the opposing end around your ankle. Sit firmly on chair, keeping backs of legs pressed into the chair. Extend wrapped leg out in front of you until knee is straight. Hold for 2 counts, and lower your leg. Repeat 10 times for each leg.
  • Hamstring curl: Wrap one end of band under leg of desk, up as high as it can go with other end of band tied to your ankle. Sit facing desk, on edge of chair, and extend leg toward desk. Bend knee and pull foot underneath you. Hold for 2 counts, and return to straight leg position. Repeat 10 times, and switch to other leg.

Chew on This

P90X® Peak Performance Protein BarsAn ounce of prevention might be a pound of cure, but 4 ounces of carrot sticks will never be as tempting as that bowl of M&M's® on your coworker's desk. So how do we avoid it? A handful of nuts, a protein bar, or some low-fat trail mix might not remove the craving, but they'll make your hunger dissipate until your next meal, and they don't require refrigeration. You can keep them in your desk at all times. So instead of the bowl, five M&M's might be enough.

Keep Water on Desk

Besides the previously mentioned reason to drink water (getting you out of your chair), hydration in an office setting is sorely overlooked. Your body requires a lot of water, even if you're stuck in a chair. Being well hydrated keeps you mentally alert, flushes out toxins from air conditioning, and will sometimes help with food cravings. So drink up.

Get out

This next tip totally depends on your employer. Most offices have at least a few smokers in them. How come they get to go outside and talk about their weekend, in the sunshine, several times a day? Just because you don't spend 8 dollars a day on cigarettes doesn't mean you can't take a moment and get some fresh air in your lungs. If your boss complains, scream discrimination against nonsmokers. Or you could pick up some candy cigarettes and pretend, as long as you avoid eating them.

It is no surprise that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 67 percent of the population as being unhappy with their career choices. Is this because we all have chosen the wrong careers? Or is it simply that most office workers would rather be outside playing tetherball? As you are well aware, it's difficult to pay the mortgage unless you go to work. But there are many things you can do, while remaining at work, that will keep you feeling better than a Snickers will. Maybe if we all take a few minutes a day to take care of ourselves, that workplace contentment statistic might drop a little. And if that doesn't work, at least we can avoid the horizontal spread of our back ends. Now that is something to be happy about.

Related Articles
"Wellness: 5 Stretches to Do at Your Desk"
"10 Tricks for Losing Those Last 10 Pounds"
"10 Healthy Snacks for Couch Time"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Thursday, May 6th, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Sweating the House Work(out)

ByBy Mark Nelson

Being a domestic god or goddess isn't easy. You want windows that let all the sun in. Floors that gleam. Toilets that sparkle. But you still want to stay in bathing-suit shape for those days by the pool on Mount Olympus.

Woman Holding a Broom

So what do you do? Try the Housework Workout.

A recent British study revealed that the average Brit burned over 50,000 calories a year doing housework. That's equal to burning almost 15 pounds of fat.

Now, I'm not saying that housework should replace workouts. But if you take the right approach to keeping your house clean, you can really burn fat and tone muscle. And who doesn't want to do that?

So how do you start firming and cleaning? Before you work out, be sure to warm up to keep from pulling a muscle. Turn on some lively music to help you keep an upbeat pace. Take deep breaths to stay energized. And have your cleaning supplies ready to go.

The Housework Workout includes eight exercises that will help you get in shape from head to toe, while making your home look great. So let's start:

  1. Tone your triceps—shine your windows. Grab a towel, spray the window, and do 10 circles to the right, then 10 to the left. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Then use the same moves to polish your tables, countertops, and anything else that's gathering dust. Keep a brisk pace and you'll definitely feel the burn in your shoulders and triceps. (30 minutes = 107 calories)
  2. Work your thighs with a vacuum. But don't just vacuum—lunge! Tense your muscles as far as you can while pushing the vacuum back and forth. As you lunge, keep your toes pointed forward, and bend your knees. Go slowly so you'll get a good stretch, and you'll work the backs of your legs and buttocks. Vacuum your couches and pillows, and you'll really feel the burn. (60 minutes = 238 calories)
  3. Man IroningLift your iron for a curvier butt. While ironing, squeeze your butt cheeks together for 10 seconds. Do this 10 times every couple of minutes, and you'll notice a difference in your muscle tone. Your bottom will hold in a semi-flexed position for up to 20 minutes after working the muscle. And don't forget to flex and stretch your shoulders and arms. (30 minutes = 80 calories)
  4. Get your thighs burning while cleaning clothes. Squat slowly as you pick up dirty laundry, while keeping your back straight and heels on the floor. Include one squat for every piece of laundry you put into the basket. And just watch your legs, buttocks, and thighs firm up. (15 minutes = 71 calories)
  5. Step up for clean shelves and great legs. Climb up and down a short stepladder (three or four steps) 10 times, alternating your feet. While you're up there, organize your shelves. By stepping up and working with your arms held high, you'll not only work out your legs, but your arms and shoulders, too. (60 minutes = 214 calories)
  6. Woman Dancing while Sweeping the FloorScrub your floors for sexy arms and abs. Drop the mop and get on your hands to scrub the floor. Cleaning your sink or bathroom by hand will also firm your arms and core. The harder you work, the better. And remember to push yourself by extending and exaggerating your arm movements. (60 minutes = 258 calories)
  7. Use that broom to work your shoulders and core. Don't vacuum the kitchen floor—sweep it. And get outside to sweep your patio, sidewalk, and driveway. When sweeping, be sure to work your obliques by pivoting at your waist. And when you bend down with the dust pan, do a few squats. Your thighs will thank you. (60 minutes = 272 calories)
  8. Make the bed for better upper-body tone. Take off the sheets, turn the mattress, pull the sheets straight, and plump those pillows—and you'll burn lots of calories. Stretch across the bed, and you'll also work your core and upper back. (30 minutes = 68 calories)

Add extra moves to burn more calories.

Woman in Rubber Gloves Flexing Her BicepWhen you're mopping and sweeping to your music, include the boxer's bounce—that rhythmic bobbing and weaving boxers do—to your tasks. You'll add strength training to your workout without using weights. You may also find yourself finishing each job in less time. And since you're adding moves, why not drop and do a few push-ups or crunches? All this can really make a difference by helping you burn fat and add muscle.

Aim to burn 500 calories per day.

If you can do that each day, you'll burn a pound of fat per week. Of course, don't forget that you're burning calories when you walk the dog (30 minutes = 150 calories), go shopping (30 minutes = 122 calories), and the list goes on.

Whatever you do, the idea is to set a fast pace, and look for ways to add resistance to each move. When you do, you'll become a calorie-burning machine.

As helpful as it is, the Housework Workout won't replace a good Beachbody® workout. But by making simple changes to your housekeeping routine, you can achieve sensational weight loss results. Your house will be cleaner than ever. And that can only elevate your status as a domestic god or goddess.

Related Articles
"10 Best Spring Cleaning Workouts"
"The Slim Pantry: 5 Weight Loss Products You Already Own"
"Shop Your Way to a Six-Pack"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Thursday, May 6th, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Can Your Face Cream Be Used As Your Eye Cream?

Woman Applying Face Cream

Eye creams can be expensive, often costing more than face creams—even though they come in smaller containers. But, is it necessary that we treat the skin around our eyes with products made especially for the eyes?

  • The reason to use an eye cream as opposed to using your daily face cream is that most eye creams are formulated for sensitive skin and lack harsh ingredients such as formaldehyde and fragrance that can irritate the eyes and skin around the eyes.
  • Plus, eye creams contain special ingredients to address puffiness and under-eye dark circles. These special ingredients are what make the product expensive, even in small doses. Some eye creams promote collagen growth, which helps improve the appearance of sagging skin.

View the full entry to learn more and to get a recommendation of a face cream that replaces your eye cream.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your Field Day IQ!

ByBy DeLane McDuffie

Girl Playing Tug-of-WarSome called it Sports Day. Others called it Intramural Day. We called it Field Day. It was the big springtime, end-of-the-school-year sporting event that stamped home the fact that soon there'd be "no more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks." But if you were a competitive kid like I was (am), you dreamt of standing on top of that wobbly makeshift platform and getting pinned with that first-place blue ribbon (no fancy medals at my school). Relive those glory days, and match the Field Day event with the pair of learned skills/qualities that best fits.

  1. Sack/wheelbarrow relay race - Trust and coordination. Hopping around in a burlap sack or running on your hands while the class klutz holds your ankles could be seen as a kid's ultimate display of trust—as long as the kid doing the steering isn't holding any grudges from preschool and doesn't steer you into an anthill. Good: Youngsters can learn to help and depend on one another. Bad: It could also enhance a kid's ability to juke and hurdle over obstacles . . . while evading the police during a chase.
  2. Dodgeball - Space awareness and maneuverability. There are several versions of this game out there, but most of them maintain a singular rule: Don't get hit! Good: This game can give your child a greater understanding of his or her body in relation to surrounding objects. It also sharpens a child's agility and alertness. Bad: Your little angel's (or as you may say when you're upset, "that little #$%+&*!!") chances of giving you the slip in the grocery store or even in the living room have just improved tremendously.
  3. Hula-hoop® pass - Flexibility and speed. Locking hands with your classmates and trying to pass a Hula-hoop from one end of the line to the next was always one of the more electric and energetic Field Day events. Even the most inflexible boy in class had to become the rubber band man by the time the hoop got to him, which was always fun to watch. Good: Kids work on being more limber and upgrading their celerity. Bad: These skills can also perfect one's technique of sliding through holes in chain-link fences and other barriers, thus increasing the number of breaking-and-entering cases in your community, not to mention trespassing.
  4. Egg and spoon race - Balance and control. Tightrope walking meets protein. Maintaining your equilibrium as you carry Humpty Dumpty on a spoon can be tricky. Good: Go get the balance beam! Your kid could make the next Olympic gymnastics team! Bad: Your 6-year-old enjoys watching heist movies and Cirque de Soleil shows, comes home with sacks of cash, and dresses up as a cat burglar for Halloween . . . and every other day of the year.
  5. Tug-of-war - Strength and teamwork. No fighting over oil in this war. The only liquids you'll see here are blood (some kids play rough), sweat (it's hot outside), and tears (maybe, if your team loses). This test of a team's will, power, and tenacity is a legendary Field Day classic. Good: Your offspring's biceps, triceps, calves, and dorsal muscles make Popeye and He-Man want to kill themselves. Bad: Your kid is now the playground mob's muscle—honing his or her skills in witness/juror intimidation, swiping others' lunch money, and extortion tactics—and wears a fedora and pinstripe suit, declaring that "the coppers will never take me alive."

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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