The days are getting longer and warmer and the sun is getting brighter and you know what that means: summer is getting closer. Do you look at yourself in the mirror before work every day and wonder just how you’re going to achieve that summer body when you work eight hours a day and then have to come home and cook, watch kids, clean or, like me, work a night job? How do you get in shape before June 1 when you work 70 hours a week and have adult responsibilities? If you’re like me, then the only thing you want to do on the few nights or mornings that you have off is sleep.

But what if I told you that you could achieve that summer body you desire from your office? No need for a gym membership and fancy equipment, and you won’t need a genie to grant you an extra 2 hours a day to make time for working out. Just 30 minutes a day at the office (ask your boss if you can steal it from your lunch break- after all, you only need 30 minutes to eat anyways!) and some simple lifestyle changes will have you rocking those skinny jeans in time .

First things first, before we jump right into the exercises and healthy snacks, you’ll first want to terminate bad habits that are likely to reverse all the hard work and effort you’re about to do. Think about the amount of time you spend sitting throughout your day. You sit in the car on the way to work, at least eight hours a day while at work, and then again on the ride home from work, and then you sit during dinner and to watch tv on the couch, and then you go to bed. Not including the time you spend sleeping, Americans spend an average of 6-8 hours a day sitting. Overall, you spend about half of your life sitting down. You could spend two hours a day working out, but there is no amount of physical activity that can reverse the negative health effects of sitting for such long periods of time every day. So, before you start putting all that effort into working out, eating healthy, and taking the stairs, you should start by eliminating the major issue at hand.

In case the obvious weight gain and reversing the positive effects of all the exercise that you’ve been doing isn’t enough to get you up off your chair, sitting for extended periods of time also results in an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and anxiety, muscle degeneration and back and neck pain, and organ damage. Now that I’ve terrified you into throwing your desk chair in the dumpster (which I promise is not necessary), here’s a few reasons to convince you to spend some time throughout your day exercising instead of sitting at your desk chair for a full eight hours.

  1. Weight loss (this one is pretty obvious)

  2. Great for your muscles and bones

Aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises will aid in protecting your muscles, joints, and bones.

  1. Improves your overall mood and mental health

During exercise, your body releases specific chemicals which improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed which will help you deal with stress and decrease your risk for depression. Summed up, you’ll be a happier person.

  1. Increased energy levels

Physical activity delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, helping your cardiovascular system operate more efficiently, which in turn improves your heart and lung health, resulting in more energy throughout your day.

  1. Lowers your risk of chronic disease and some cancers

Exercise fights a number of diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, arthritis, and a number of cancers such as colon, breast, uterine, and lung.

  1. Improves brain health and memory

Exercise can improve brain function and protect your memory and thinking skills.

  1. Improves skin health

Physical activity increases your body’s production of natural antioxidants, aiding in the protection of cells and stimulating blood flow, resulting in a delayed appearance of skin aging.

  1. Relaxation and quality of sleep

Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep, helping you sleep more soundly and remain asleep.

  1. Reduces pain

Several studies have proven that exercise aids in reducing chronic pain and improves quality of life.

  1. Improved sex life

A variety of studies have also proven that regular physical activity improves sex life for both men and women.

Now that you’re thoroughly convinced that you should spend some time everyday working out, we can go over a few exercises that you can do from the comfort of your own office cubicle.

Arms & Shoulders

  • Bicep Curls

It’s best to do this exercising from a standing position for the simple fact that I just mentioned a few very serious negative effects of sitting for an extended amount of time. I don’t believe that this exercise requires an explanation. For all of these arm exercises you may use water bottles in place of dumbbells. (20 reps with each arm)

  • Front and Side Arm Raises

Again, you may use dumbbells or water bottles. Relax your arms by your side, alternating arms and keeping them straight, raise your arm straight out in front of you. Beginning from the same position, raise your arms straight out to the side. (10 reps with each arm)

  • Overhead Presses

Begin standing with your arms by your side. Using either dumbbells or water bottles, bend your elbows and raise your arms straight up in the air and then return them to your side. (15 reps)

  • Shoulder Shrug

Stand and relax your arms by your side holding either dumbbells or water bottles. Raise and lower your shoulders simultaneously. (20 reps)

  • Triceps Dips

Sit on the very edge of your desk or a non-rolling (that part is very important) chair and place your hands on either side of you. Place your feet flat on the floor a step or two in front of you. Bend your arms, lowering your body until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle, and then raise yourself back up straightening your arms again. (10 reps)

You can also increase the difficulty of this exercise by doing real pushups; however, I’m assuming that you would rather not lie on the office floor. Instead, place your hands on the edge of your cubicle desk shoulder width apart with your legs straight out behind you. Lower your chest down to your desk bending your arms, push yourself back up straightening your arms again. (15 reps)

Legs & Butt

  • Chair Squats

Sit in your desk chair (sit straight, shoulders back), keep your knees at a 90-degree angle. Without using your arms, stand straight up and then slowly sit back down. Simple enough. If you’re looking to take it up a notch, try a few squats without the chair. (10 reps)

  • Wall Sit

Standing against a wall with your back and shoulders flat against the wall and your feet flat on the floor shoulder width apart, lower yourself until your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Hold for 30 seconds. Also, I don’t recommend doing this against a cubicle wall or you might end up on the floor along with the wall. And you were worried about the exercises drawing attention to yourself.

  • Calf Raises

Stand straight with your feet flat on the floor. Raise yourself onto your toes and then lower yourself back down until your heels are slightly above the ground. Repeat. (25 reps)

Sitting in your chair with your back against the back of your chair and your shoulders back, raise your legs up straight in front of you and then keeping your legs straight, slowly raise your legs so your thighs are lifted off of the chair. Then, while your legs are still straight, return them to the chair. To increase difficulty, place a purse or briefcase strap over your ankles to add weight. (15 reps)

  • Cubicle Kick

Stand behind your chair and place your hands on the back of your chair in front of you. Lift your leg straight out behind you as high as you can, hold for five seconds and then lower your leg just above the ground. Repeat. (10 reps each leg)

Abs/Core

  • Exercise Ball

Replace your desk chair with an exercise ball to improve balance and tone your core.

  • Swivel Twist

If you’re lucky enough to have a swivel chair, sit tall in your chair with your shoulders back and knees at a 90-degree angle. Slightly lift your knees so your feet hover above the ground. Twist your abdominal left to right slightly swiveling your chair back and forth with you. (15 reps)

Cardio

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator

  • Ride a bike to work

  • Take frequent, short walks around the office

Visit your coworkers’ desk for a quick chat or question instead of sending an email

  • Cycling or walking on the treadmill

If this equipment is available at your office.

Of course, there are plenty of other exercises that can be done at the office. These are just a few to get you started.

You may have noticed that it will most likely take more than 30 minutes to do each of these exercises. So, alternate between them each day. Focusing on a particular body region each day is a great way to prioritize your activity. For example, focus on arms on Monday, legs and butt on Tuesday, abs on Wednesday, cardio on Thursday, etc. Or, choose a few exercises for each body region each day to work on a little bit of everything every day.

You’re probably thinking, “you forgot to mention sit-stand desks.” These are a great option to have in your office. After all, “sitting is the new smoking.” It’s important to move around throughout the day. You should definitely not be sitting for extended periods of time without movement, however, standing for extended periods can actually do more harm than good. Risks include fatigue, varicose veins, and similar to sitting, neck and back pain. Alan Hedge, an ergonomics professor at Cornell University, suggests sitting for 20 minutes, standing for 8, and walking, stretching, or moving for 2; repeating this cycle throughout the day.

Remember, exercise alone won’t give you that summer body if you head home each day to sit on the couch with a bag of potato chips. So, here’s some easy, delicious, and healthy snack ideas to take to work with you or enjoy when you get home.

  1. Hard boiled eggs

  1. Cucumber sushi

  1. Avocado hummus

  1. Trail mix bites

  1. Fro-yo bites

  1. Chicken avocado roll-ups

  1. Donut apples

Remember to stretch, sit less, move more, participate in at least 30 minutes of activity each day, drink plenty of water, and incorporate healthy snacks into your daily diet and you’ll have that summer body in no time without taking any additional time out of your day for exercise or fitness-related activities. Transforming your office into your personal gym is an easy and convenient solution and you won’t even need to purchase that expensive gym equipment or pay monthly for a gym membership that you’ll rarely use. In addition to your perfect body, you’re also acquiring numerous health benefits and eliminating the negative side effects of sitting. What more could you ask for? Sure, an office sauna and pool would be nice. But, we’ll start with the basics. So, get up and get moving!