10 Ways to Keep Fit During a Shift


Posted: Jul. 08, 2016

Finding the right balance between exercise and working in a restaurant or bar is difficult for many in the industry. After you’ve been standing for an extended period of time, a workout falls low as a priority, which can become a problem for obvious reasons. It becomes an even greater issue when you regularly indulge in late-night eating after a shift.

We won’t go into all the reasons exercise is good for you. You’ve heard them before. But here’s just one: Working out has direct benefits for your restaurant. When you work out, you have more energy overall—and you have more energy during even the most strenuous of shifts.

The good news is that you don’t have to start off running miles at a time. You can start small now. And you can exercise on the job! To help you feel stronger, we have pulled together a list of exercises that can be performed throughout the workday. We’ve even included a couple you can do while placing an order. Try out these stand-up movements whenever you have a minute or two of peace during your shift.

And whatever happens, don’t let the comedians on staff deter you. No one will laugh when you are the last man or woman standing, with great posture and a tight belly.

10 Exercises You Can Do On Shift When You Work in a Restaurant

Get Fit Tip 1. Lengthen your torso.

Hunching over to take orders and deliver food will start to have a negative effect on your posture over time, without you realizing the change. So stand up straight and pull your shoulders back! If your chest is puffing out and it feels exaggerated or uncomfortable to hold, take these sensations as signs that your posture is not as good as it should be.

The benefits of having good posture can be felt throughout the body, from a stronger core to reduced lower backaches—a common problem for people standing for hours at a time.

The Exercise: With your arms hanging loosely at your sides, stand with your legs close together, heels in, and toes pointed apart. Activate your stomach muscles and lower your tailbone to bring your pelvis forward. Lengthen your arms downward, then roll your shoulders up, back, and down. Your palms will turn outward; keep your pinkie fingers close to your sides. Lift your chin slightly up to elongate your neck.

Take three deep breaths, and continue to hold your stomach muscles in, with your pelvis bone forward.

When you release, you will feel that your shoulders are more inclined to remain back, and your neck will stand tall. Repeat this simple exercise throughout the day to maintain a long back.

Fun fact: By standing up straighter, you will release endorphins. So basically, improving your posture makes you happier!


Get Fit Tip 2. Knee-to-elbow twists.

Twisting your body is a great way to increase blood circulation and work out those kinks that settle in after a long time on your feet. Find a small corner and take three minutes every day to complete this exercise.

The exercise: Stand up straight, with your pelvis forward and stomach muscles activated, feet hip-width apart. Put your hands behind your head, with elbows pointed to the sides. Shift your weight to your left leg, lift up your right leg, and bring your left elbow down to meet your right knee. Return to starting position, and repeat on the other side.

Do at least 20 reps on each side.

For more stand-up abs workouts you can do on the job, check out this video by Jillian Michaels.

Get Fit Tip 3. Lean ’n lift side crunch.

Your side abs are often neglected. This exercise works out your entire stomach core, and your side abs in particular (which, when activated, get those attractive defined stomach lines).

The exercise: Stand tall (pelvis in and stomach muscles activated) with your feet close together, and with palms pressed together over your chest bone. Lean to the right side to feel a slight stretch on your left side. Trigger your abs to then lift your left leg. Hold for three seconds. Slowly return to an upright position.

Repeat 15 times on each side.

Get Fit Tip 4. The leaning plank.

This position helps tone your abs, chest, shoulders, and arms at one time. This is one exercise you should do often throughout the day. All you need is a wall!

The exercise: Place your forearms against the wall and walk your feet backward, until your heels are about to lift off the floor. Keep them shoulder-width apart. Press into your forearms, activate your stomach muscles, lower your pelvis bone, keep a straight back, and hold this position for one minute.

Repeat three times.

Get Fit Tip 5. Always brace your abdominal muscles.

Throughout your day, keep your stomach muscles taut. You will be surprised by how quickly this leads to a flatter midsection. To then amplify this, do ab contractions to build strength. This type of simple exercise is incredibly effective over time and can be done discreetly when you are standing on the floor.

The exercise: Stand straight and tighten your abdominal muscles as much as possible. Hold for 10 seconds and then release. Repeat throughout the day.


Get Fit Tip 6. Arabesque leg lifts.

Inspired by ballet barre work, these small lifts will tone your inner thighs.

The exercise: Hold onto the back of a chair, bring your legs together and heels close, and turn your toes outward. Stand up tall, bring your tailbone and pelvis forward, and bend your knees slightly. Extend your left leg behind you and raise it one inch. Squeeze every muscle in your body, from your calf to your thigh to your glute, and raise your leg slightly, quickly. Pump your leg 20 times in a controlled manner before returning to your starting position. Repeat with the right leg.

Get Fit Tip 7. Squeeze your glutes.

This exercise is much like stomach contractions, except this time it’s with your lower body. Perform these contractions throughout the day to strengthen your leg and butt muscles.

The exercise: Stand up tall, with your tailbone tucked under and your ab muscles pulled taut. Squeeze your thighs and glutes tightly within, as if you are holding a quarter between your thighs. Hold this position for 10 seconds and relax. Repeat this 10 times.

Get Fit Tip 8. Pliés.

The plié, another ballet move, is really an effective squat position.

The exercise: Stand tall, heels together and toes spread far apart. Use a chair to balance if you need to. Activate your abs and bring your pelvis forward. Slowly bend the knees outward while maintain a straight posture—use your core muscles—and bend your knees a few degrees before your heels lift off the floor. Then straighten your legs and return to standing position. Repeat this 30 times.


Get Fit Tip 9. Stretching is the forgotten activity of a workout.

Unlike working out, you can never do too much stretching. Stretching helps loosen muscles, eases discomfort, and aids mobility. Take time every day to perform these stretches if you stand for long periods of time.

The stretch: Touching your toes is a classic for a reason. Stand up tall with your feet hip-width apart and slowly bend over, starting with the top of your head. Let your arms dangle, and keep your neck loose as you bend over. Keep your legs tight, but do not lock your knees, as you don’t want to put too much stress on your back. To take this stretch deeper into your sides, lift up from your torso until your back is flat, and reach your arms outward. Slowly elongate your arms from left to right to loosen those side back muscles.

Get Fit Tip 10. Loosen your neck and shoulder muscles with a simple arm swing.

This is a soft stretch designed to release upper-body tension and remove back stiffness.

The stretch: Stand feet shoulder-width apart and lift your legs out to your sides like a helicopter. Slowly twist your midsection to bring your arms back and forth, deepening the twist as you go on. Continue for one minute, and then come back to center. Bring your right arm over your chest and hold it close in the nook of your left arm. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat with the left arm.

While these exercises are simple, they offer intensive, isolated workouts. Perform them daily, and you will see a positive change in a few weeks. And consider how diet is as important as exercise. Drink water and avoid fatty and greasy foods, in particular as a late-night, after-shift meal.

If you are new to stretching and want to learn more, check out this great video delivered by diet.com.

Interested in learning more about health and restaurants? Check out recent research on how food-ordering methods affect health. Or discover how eating spoons can be healthy (seriously!).


Posted: Jul. 08, 2016 | Written By: Emma Alois



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