5 Ways to Add Jumping Jacks to Your Day

Warning: Jumping jacks in a moving vehicle can be disconcerting. You do not land where you took off. Consult your physicist professor for advice.

The jumping jack is, I gotta say, one of the silliest calisthenics. Not as silly as the squat thrust, but far sillier than the push-up. Kids LOVE ’em, and for good reasons.

I recently asked my Facebook friends for advice on how to add more jumping jacks to my day. They are a hearty bunch of friends, and they had some great ideas.

Join the Army

Well, it is true that joining the army would add more jumping jacks to my day. But the army is serious business, and should not be joined on a whim.

Don’t Jump Jacks on the Subway

We all hate the crowded trains of New York. Never enough room to get comfortable. So why not spread your wings a bit – after a few jumping jacks you would probably have half the subway car to yourself. But alas – my friend recommended that I not do them on the subway. Probably right, but presumably it would be okay to jump jacks on the platform, before boarding the train?

Flail in the Elevator

I work in a busy office building in Manhattan. My elevator ride easily adds ten minutes to my commute. It’s even more crowded than the subway, so I cannot understand why a good friend would have recommended doing my jumping jacks here. But there you go – folks are busy and have to make time for fitness wherever they can. Jumping jacks in the elevator is going on my list. Note the warning about moving vehicles above: You are likely to hit your head on the ceiling or buckle your knees, depending on which way the elevator is moving.

Liven-up a Meeting

Business meetings can be boring. And chances are, most of the participants are living lives more sedentary than their great-grand-parents. They can use a little inspiration, perhaps. Why not bring some calisthenics to the table? Folks talking about things like office yoga and desk-chair stretches all the time. Don’t skulk around trying to fit in exercise where no one will notice. Be outlandish about it – be an inspiration. The company will benefit from the increased energy. Jump out loud at your next meeting. 😉

20 Jumping Jacks Upon Waking

The only serious advice I got was:

A wise woman once told me: do 20 jumping jacks every morning when you wake up.

It is good advice. Especially on these cold winter mornings – a few grand hurrah’s will warm you up quickly. And it fulfills one of my core principles (taken from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People):

First things first.

Not to say that the work you do between 9am and 5pm is not important, but be honest:

If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.
– Count Rugen, The Princess Bride

Start your day with the most important items, like taking care of yourself. Your family, friends, and company will appreciate it.

But What About Jumping Jacks in Your Cubicle?

We now have all the technology we could have ever imagined. Work opportunities galore, even if many companies are still laying off or maintaining hiring freezes. Have you ever been more busy, even if your company is whithering a bit?

You would think it is the ideal time to be in a cubicle. Great tools, important projects that people care about are raining from the dropped-ceiling tiles.

And yet, no.

Work, if you don’t set your mind to it properly, can be debilitating – both mentally and physically. A company’s important goals can easily get lost beneath the blanket of office politics and administrative concerns. This is nothing new – I have seen it during over a decade of office work. Slowly, our bodies, which were evolved to hunt and do push-up’s, are instead just sitting, typing, mousing.

Daniel Baumstark has written some clear commentary on this problem, over at the Physical Therapy Blog. He talks about our weak butts (ahem.. “gluteus maximus”), but what about our weak spirits?

What is it about the office environment which makes us sink deeper than necessary into the sedentary life. We could complete our tasks just fine with just a little sedentary, but instead we got:

A lotta sedentary.

The conventional wisdom of sitting properly is not going to help much, in my opinion. No offense to the proponents of this conventional wisdom, but I just think we are sugar-coating the problem:

If we make sitting at a desk more comfortable, we will only find more unnecessary reasons to sit at a desk.

Note: In a prior post, I did suggest sugar-coating as a good option in certain situations. Might need to re-think that.

So that’s my four cents – most of the folks I know either don’t agree or don’t care about fighting the sedentary-ism. Or just aren’t talking much about it, if they do care. Maybe we are too tired to find a decent alternative – heck, desk-sitting is the couch-potato-ism of the 21st century, right? I do it all the time.

Personally, I think that jumping jacks may be our best defense.