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Unobtrusive but Effective

If the boss wonders why your feet are on the desk, what about some invisible exercises?

Women can do kegels -- tightening and holding, then loosening, their pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that control the flow of urine when you go to the bathroom). This will prevent leakage and other problems down the line.

Butt clenches are also helpful in today's booty-conscious society. Tighten your buttocks, hold, hold, hold, and then relax. Repeat 15 times. The same goes for ab squeezes -- just tighten your tummy muscles instead.

Use Every Minute Actively

Whenever possible, "stand rather than sit," Price says. "Walk rather than stand."

  • Walk during your lunch break. If you find that boring, buy a camera and walk around taking pictures. Some experts say it's ideal to walk 10,000 steps a day -- this can be five miles, depending on the length of your stride. "Buy a pedometer, wear it five days, and divide by five," Price suggests. "If you're nowhere near 10,000 -- and this takes some doing -- set a reasonable goal. If you clocked 2,000 steps, go for 2,500."
  • Join a gym near your office and go during your lunch hour. If your employer provides a gym, that's even better.
  • Forget emailing the guy three cubes over -- walk.
  • Remember, walks to the vending machine don't count!

Calabrese often calls her fitness-coaching clients or emails them to remind them they had planned to work out or walk at lunch. You can do the same -- put a reminder on your desk calendar, a sticky note on your computer, or send yourself an e-mail reminder.

One last thing: Don't let fear of embarrassment keep you from exercising at work. Chances are, your co-workers will admire your efforts rather than be amused. You might even get them to join you on a lunchtime walk or to help you lobby for lunch-hour yoga classes at your workplace.

So what should you do if one of your co-workers, say, finds you in your chair two feet from the desk, stretched out, staring at the floor? "You could pretend you dropped a pen," Price laughs. "But it's better to say, 'This feels great! Try it.'"

Originally published February 27, 2004

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