As a collegiette™, you spend your day running — literally and figuratively! — in between classes, meetings and your dorm room most of the year. Without even thinking about it, small bits of exercise find a place in your daily routine while at school. But as an intern, you’ll be sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day and the most exercise you’ll find yourself getting will be your two daily trips to the bathroom or water fountain.
Not to mention when you're working full-time, it's easy to fall out of the habit of exercising. Dragging yourself out of bed at 7 AM five days a week is difficult enough, and even though work isn’t physically exhausting, a full day can certainly drain you in ways you wouldn't expect. So it's understandable that when you get home from work the last thing you want to do is throw on your gym shoes and go for a run — and getting to the gym at 6 AM isn’t exactly appetizing either.
Here are some great suggestions for how to get in those bits of exercise while you’re stuck in an office full-time.
1. Avoid public transportation and walk!
If you're anything like me and hate walking in the cold, summer is the perfect time to take advantage of this easy trick. If you choose to walk one way to work each day or even just once or twice a week you're getting some serious exercise in without making an extra trip to the gym. After all, collegiettesTM are all about multitasking!
Worried you'll get sweaty? Wear a tank top with your skirt or slacks and throw on your sneakers or flip-flops. Stick your blouse and heels into your bag and you're good to go! If your commute is too long to walk the whole way, take HC Managing Editor Cara Sprunk's advice instead: "When I have extra time I get off the subway a stop early and walk an extra 10 blocks. I usually use the time to catch up on phone calls!"
So call Mom, Grandma or your best friend, and catch up while you’re getting in a nice easy workout!
Calories burned: 80 (20 minutes of walking)
2. Sit on a core-building disc
Who knew you could do core work without the work? These flat discs can be placed directly on your seat to help you work your core muscles by improving your posture. Simply sitting on the disc, which can be purchased for less than $20, is a way to work out without doing a thing!
Calories burned: up to 350 a day from using an exercise ball as your chair
3. Bring weights to work
Small 1-, 3- or 5-pound weights are easily transportable and are a piece of cake to use if you are sitting at a desk. Alternate lifts with each arm as you read the news in the morning or scroll through your emails.
Try bicep curls, which can easily be done while sitting down. Hold your elbows close to your body with one weight in each hand with your palms facing forward. Alternate by bringing each hand to your shoulder and holding it there for 2 seconds. Then release your arm slowly until your elbow is straight – hold this arm straight while you do the other arm.
The same exercise can work out your forearm as well – simply hold your palms inward instead of face up.
Calories burned: 50 (15 minutes of weightlifting)
4. Make a habit of taking the stairs
Taking the stairs is an incredibly easy way to get in some quick cardio without even thinking twice. Skip the awkward small talk from the elevator and opt for the stairs instead. If your office is in a high-rise, learn from Kate Zasada, who works as a Product Team Assistant at a tech company in NYC, and make an activity of climbing the stairs.
"At my new job there are these two guys who walk down, then up, the stairs every afternoon without fail, and we are on the 25th floor! There are a few of us who go, usually when we start to get tired around 3 or 3:30 PM. I always feel good about myself because even if I can't make it to the gym I exercise a little bit. You definitely break a sweat!” explained Kate, who said the quick break only takes her and her co-workers about 15 minutes.
Socializing while exercising will not only motivate you to keep going, but it’s also a great way to make friends at the office!
Even if you’re not on the top floor of your building or can’t take a break like Kate, climbing the stairs during errands, on your lunch break and before or after work will give you the exercise you’re looking for.
Calories burned: 80 (10 minutes of stairs)
5. Take a stroll on your break
Let’s be honest — sitting in the same position for 8 hours staring at a computer screen is not a good way to stay healthy. Take a five-minute break with a coworker and do a lap around the office or walk to the nearest coffee shop for your afternoon caffeine hit instead of simply going upstairs to the cafeteria.
When your boss needs mail delivered or something faxed, copied or scanned don't think of it as standard intern work. Take it as a chance to get up out of your chair. Your boss will appreciate it and it's good for you!
Calories burned: 25 (10 minutes of leisurely walking)
6. Join the office basketball team
So it's not exactly an Olympic team, but participating in group sports with the other people in your office is a perfect way to get some basic exercise while bonding with your co-workers.
Don't have a company team? Help organize one! To start with, all you need is an open public court and a group of people to play — even tossing around a Frisbee or shooting hoops is a great start. If you’re hesitant, suggest the idea to your boss or co-worker first and see how they react. If she likes the idea, send out an email to the list-serv asking people to contact you if they’re interested. Pick a day and time and you’re good to go! Just make sure you’re getting all your work done before you begin to organize!
You'll show initiative and you’ll make new friends, and we’re willing to bet the guys you work with will dig you even more for showing interest in playing a team sport.
Calories burned: 300 (30 minutes of basketball)
7. Invest in workout DVDs
Not exactly ready for the P90X DVDs your boyfriend uses? Completely understandable. Although the thought of exercise tapes can conjure up images of women in neon colored spandex doing jazzercise, there are thousands of modern workout tapes right at your fingertips.
Or, click around on any of these YouTube results!
8. Enroll in regular workout classes
If you're paying for numerous weeks of classes, you won't be tempted to skip out or bail on the class since you’ve already forked over your hard-earned dough. Grab a friend and enroll in the classes together so you're doubly motivated to show up. Boston’s Life in Synergy offers 10 classes for just $120, and many gyms include classes in their membership fees.
Calories burned: 310 (1-hour aerobic class)
9. Work out on your lunch break
If your office has a gym, you're in luck, but even if it doesn't, joining a gym that's close to your office as opposed to near your apartment is a great way to get a quick workout in. Thirty minutes of cardio on the elliptical or treadmill and a 10-minute shower is a healthy, active and feasible way of spending part of your hour-long break.
Pack your gym bag the night before — be sure to bring your gym attire, a towel for the shower and a cosmetic case with small bottles of shampoo and conditioner, face wash, body wash and lotion. Don’t forget your makeup bag for re-dos after you’ve showered!
After you've worked out you'll have worked up a great appetite and can eat your lunch at your desk.
Calories burned: 200 (20 minutes on the elliptical)
10. Bring your gym clothes to work
“After a long day at work, my bad habit is to get home, change into my sweats and fall right onto the couch in front of the TV with my roommates. I tell myself I’ll get to the gym, but I just don’t,” says Katelyn Maher, a third year Northeastern University student who is currently interning at General Electric.
Follow in Katelyn’s footsteps and motivate yourself by bringing your gym bag to work and going directly to the gym after your day at the office.
“To motivate myself, I actually bring my workout clothes with me to my office. This way, when I’m getting ready in the morning I keep the mindset that I’ll be going to the gym that afternoon,” she explained.
“Plus, then I have no good excuse to go home first and fall onto the couch!”
Calories burned: Depends on your workout!
Have some other suggestions for staying in shape while you’re an intern? Be sure to leave them in the comments!
Now go get your workout on!
*All calorie counts based on a 130-lb. woman.
Kate Zasada, Products Assistant in NYC
Cara Sprunk, HC Managing Editor
Erica Avesian, HC Contributing Writer
Kayla Riley, HC Contributing Writer
Katelyn Maher, Northeastern Student and GE Intern