Health

Dealing With Restrictive Attire: Business Casual Exercises You Can Do Anywhere


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  • When working around the clock, getting your heart rate up is doubly important
  • It’s easy to learn simple exercises you can do in your professional clothing
  • Limited range of motion doesn’t mean you can’t get your blood pumping and energy up

Though restrictive work clothes can make it hard to maneuver, you can always squeeze in some exercises in the office if you get creative.

Pencil skirts, sheath dresses and dress pants don’t allow for sufficient leg movement to get into the right position for certain exercises. And with slimmer clothes becoming more popular for men and women alike, many lawyers are finding their range of motion to be constricted by their professional outfits. Additionally, fabrics used in professional clothing tend to not have as much give as others, leaving you without the full range of motion offered by more casual clothing.

Can you think of professional clothing you can wear that does allow for a better range of motion while still falling within dress code guidelines?

But you don’t have to forego physical fitness for the sake of maintaining a professional and fashionable appearance. There are plenty of exercises you could do in the office, even when your clothing is a little restrictive. Check out some options below.

Dip Into Fitness

Generally speaking, most restrictive clothing allows you to freely move your arms. So take off your blazer or suit jacket, and try tricep dips.

Find a solid, low piece of furniture that can hold your weight and won’t move when you push against it, like your desk, a non-rolling chair or file cabinet. Facing away from the furniture, put your hands on the furniture next to your hips and walk your feet forward a step or two so you’re leaning on your hands. Bend your elbows to dip down, then squeeze your triceps to lift yourself back up. Do 3 sets of 8-10 dips each.

Raise Into Fitness

If you can stand in your work clothes, you can do calf raises in them. In addition to working your calves, this exercise also helps strengthen your ankles.

If you’re wearing high heels, kick off your shoes. From a standing position, slowly raise yourself up onto your toes, pause and squeeze your calves when you get to the top, then slowly and with control lower back down. To incorporate a stretch in your calves, you’ll need to do this exercise on a stair or something else that you can stand on which allows you to drop your heels down. If incorporating the stretch, put your feet on whatever you’re standing on so that your toes and the ball of your foot are on it but your heels are hanging off. When you come down from the raise, bring your heels down past the point where your foot would be flat – you will feel a fantastic stretch in your calves.

Because our calves are frequently in use (unless you never walk), this exercise requires a higher rep count. Start with 20-30 reps and increase as necessary. Do 3-4 sets.

Lift Yourself Into Fitness

You can work your arms, shoulders and your core right from your desk chair with this exercise. Place your hands on the armrests next to your body. Lift your feet up off the floor, engage your core and push through your hands lifting your butt off the seat. It’s okay if the backs of your thighs are still touching the seat. Hold this position for several seconds and slowly lower back down. Repeat 5-10 times. Gradually increase how long you can hold your body up above the seat and see if you can get your legs off the seat altogether.

Squeeze Into Fitness

One type of exercise that you can do literally anywhere, while wearing anything, is isometric contractions. In these static exercises, you tone your muscles by flexing them. You can target your abs or your glutes (or any other muscle that you can flex).

While either standing or sitting, squeeze your abs or your glutes as hard as you can for at least 5 seconds. If the muscles start shaking that means you’re doing it right. Hold the contraction for 5 to 30 seconds. Repeat several times. Don’t forget to breathe – just because you’re holding your muscle in this position does not mean you should be holding your breath! These exercises don’t even require you to stop working. You can squeeze your abs or your glutes while reading or drafting a document, while you’re on a long conference call, or while you’re standing in line at the coffee shop or your favorite lunch spot.

Note that if you have high blood pressure, you should avoid isometric contractions as they can increase your blood pressure. Everyone should always check with their doctor before trying any new exercise routine.