You might be a weekend warrior and hit the gym hard on your off days -- but guess what? You can exercise effectively during the week too, without taking up hours of your day. Try these methods of high-intensity interval training or "HIIT" at work to save time, get fit, and get back to the rest of your life.
A Jaunt Around the Building
Among the benefits of HIIT workouts: you don’t have to spend much time at all doing them. Even 10 or 15 minutes is enough time to elevate your heart rate to a level that allows you to reap the benefits. Instead of spending your morning coffee break lounging around the water cooler, head outside and do a sprint-walk around the building. Start out walking for about one minute, and then sprint at full speed for 30 seconds. Repeat that cycle six to eight times, and in nine to 12 minutes you’ll have gotten in a serious workout.
Hit the Office Staircase
t might be rather conspicuous to do a session of several sprints using a busy office staircase, but if you have a more hidden stairwell in your building, try doing a daily session of HIIT there. Warm up by walking up one or two flights of stairs, and then walk back down. The next time up, run up two flights as fast as you can. Recover by walking down again, repeating the run up-walk down sequence six to eight times.
Running by your Desk
If you don’t have time to head out of the vicinity of your desk, all is not lost. Get your heart warmed up by walking around your office for about 30 seconds. Then try doing jumping jacks, running in place or doing knee-ups, in which you jump up with both feet until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Whatever you choose, keep it going for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then recover by walking or jogging lightly in place. Once again, repeat the cycle six to eight times.
Sprint to and fro
If you’re one of those workers who parks in a giant parking area or has to find a place to park close to the office each morning, it’s a perfect time to get your blood flowing in preparation for the workday. Park far enough away that it would take you about five minutes to walk to work. Then do a cycle of 30 seconds walking, 30 seconds sprinting until you reach the door. Repeat it when you’re done with the workday, and you’ll have gotten in your daily workout with minimal effort.
Rev Up your Active Commute
If you’re already commuting to work by bike -- or even on foot -- you’re already doing a lot more exercise than many people. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t increase your efforts and reap the benefits of an even higher level of fitness. During your commute, practice a form of HIIT. After cycling -- or walking -- for a few minutes, pick up the pace to full speed for one minute, alternating between fast and slow paces for 15 to 20 minutes. Another way to do it is by blocks. Go fast for one block, then slow down for another block.
A Word of Warning
While HIIT workouts can be really effective, they’re not for everyone, reminds the American Council on Exercise. If you haven’t worked out in a while or you have a heart condition, it’s best for you to start exercising at a slower, less intense pace. Spend a few weeks or months walking or doing other less-intense forms of exercise before you launch into a HIIT routine. And since longer-duration exercise still has benefits, plan to do HIIT workouts only three or four days a week, and spend the other days fitting in a 30-minute walk, run, swim or other light-intensity workout.
Image courtesy Photocapy, Flickr