Our bodies are not meant to sit for 8 to 12 hours a day. Yet most of us are required to work at desks. This means getting the minimum suggested amount of exercise – thirty minutes daily – is often difficult to accomplish. Studies have shown sitting results in back pain, headaches, and listlessness. Many of us do the stiff robot walk the first few steps after rising from our chairs. We also know workers that don’t get up and move are often less productive. Sitting has even been called the new smoking!
The good news is any amount of movement helps and we can supplement our exercise routines with some simple desk exercises.
Check out these tips to get you moving, more productive, and feeling better!
Make Some Simple Changes
- Take the stairs! This will strengthen your legs and get your heart rate up.
- Get up and talk to the coworker you are about to call or IM. This will reduce stiffness and help circulation.
- Drink water to stay hydrated. This will also force you to get up and go to the bathroom.
- Get outside! A 10 to 20 minute walk in the fresh air will actually help with productivity and problem solving.
- Don’t eat at your desk! Mindless eating will cause you to consume more than you need. Bringing a healthy lunch, and go sit in the break room. This will help your wallet too!
Get Your Heart Rate Up
- Push your chair back and knock out some jumping jacks. Need a lower impact option? Alternate side steps while lifting your arms overhead. Set your phone timer for 20 seconds rest for 10 seconds then repeat, increasing your repetitions.
- Stand up tall and do some high knee jogs while pumping your arms. For lower impact, march in place, lifting those legs up high. Set your phone timer for 20 seconds of exercise, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat, increasing your repetitions.
- “Jump rope” – Hop on two feet or one (alternating occasionally) while simulating swinging a rope with your arms. Set your phone timer for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then repeat, increasing your repetitions.
- Shadow Box – Get out of your chair and throw some punches. Set your phone timer and punch for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then repeat increasing your repetitions.
- Roam the halls – Walk briskly or jog the halls!
Build your strength
1. Stand from sitting in your chair
Push your chair back from your desk to give yourself plenty of room. Sitting forward on your chair, feet flat on the floor, come all the way to standing until your knees are straight. Keep your eyes forward and abs gently engaged to encourage good form. Complete 20 repetitions. Work up to 3 sets with 10 seconds rest in between. This exercise will also elevate your heart rate.
2. Triceps Dips with your Chair
Seated towards the front of your chair with your feet flat on the floor, place your hands on the arms of your chair, keeping your chest wide. Relax your legs so the work is in your arms and lift your seat out of the chair using your upper body. Try to straighten your arms, but it’s okay if you have to work up to this. Just lift as high as comfortable. Keep your eye gaze forward and shoulders relaxed for proper form. Repeat 10 to 15 times. Try to work up to 3 sets with 10 seconds of rest in between.
3. Desk Push-ups
First, make sure your desk is sturdy and stable to support your body weight leaning on it. Place your hands as wide as your shoulders on the edge of the desk. Walk your feet back so your body is on an angle. Bend your elbows lowering yourself towards your desk as far as comfortable. Push back up. Keep your neck straight and abs gently engaged. Complete 10 to 15 repetitions. Work up to 3 sets with 10 seconds rest in between.
4. Calf Raises
Stand behind your chair holding on to the back. Start with feet hips distance apart and parallel. Keep your eye gaze forward, standing up tall, and abs engaged. Lift heels off floor, rising up onto toes. Lower heels all the way to floor. Repeat 10 to 15 times. Then turn legs out at hip so heels are together and toes are apart. Repeat 10 to 15 calf raises. Lastly, turn toes in towards each other and repeat 10 to 15 more calf raises.
5. Overhead Punches
Sit forward in chair with feet flat on floor. Sit tall with eye gaze forward and abs pulled in. Punch overhead 20 times, rest 10 seconds and repeat 2 more sets. This will work shoulders and help elevate the heart rate.
Lengthen muscles that are constantly being shortened when sitting.
- Neck – Sitting tall in your chair, make forward semi-circles about 5 times to loosen your neck up. Then with head upright, drop chin to chest hold 2 seconds and lift head back to starting position. Repeat 5 times. Next take right ear to right shoulder (without lifting shoulder) hold 2 seconds and repeat 5 times. repeat to left side. Lastly, take head straight back keeping mouth closed. Hold 2 seconds and repeat 5 times.
- Chair Twist – Sitting tall with feet on floor, rotate spine to right grabbing the back of chair and arm of chair to help facilitate a greater rotation. Release slightly then pull again, repeating 5 times. Repeat other side.
- Bicep and chest stretch – Place hands flat on desk then roll chair away from desk, hinge forward at hips bringing torso towards legs until you feel a stretch through the arms and chest. Roll chair back towards desk to release. Repeat 5 times.
- Overhead stretch – Sitting tall with feet on floor, reach arms overhead, stretching up towards ceiling then lift eyes and chest up to ceiling to further open chest. Release and repeat 5 times.
- Hamstring stretch – Sitting forward in chair, reach one leg long with heel on floor and foot flexed. Place both hands on that thigh. Hinge forward at hip, bringing torso towards leg until you feel a stretch through the back of your leg. Repeat 5 times on each leg.
Feel pressed for time? Break these exercises up throughout the day. You’ll feel better, whether it is a longer break of movement all at once, or short bursts throughout the day. You’ll be recharged, refreshed, more motivated, more productive, and possibly feel like stopping off at the gym or going out for a stroll after work!
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