Modern office workers face a conundrum: while experts increasingly sound the alarm over the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, more and more people transition away from manual labor and factory work to office jobs that involve motionless work for long hours. This has, of course, been a growing trend over the last several decades.
Not moving for long periods of time can have a negative impact on a variety of bodily functions, from your blood flow to the alignment of your spine. It can even impact your alertness and your mood throughout the day. Our bodies weren’t meant for long periods of inactivity that are often necessary in office jobs. We need movement to thrive!
Though standing desks and ergonomic chairs can go a long way in combating the ill effects of sitting for long periods of time, there are actually a lot of exercises to do at work while sitting to give your body some much-needed TLC throughout the day. Some exercise at work desk routines may require you to get creative, but they can be achieved with a little determination.
Don’t worry about what the surrounding people might think. Trendsetters are always bold and unafraid to deviate from the norm, and pretty soon you could inspire everyone in your office to join you in moving around and staying active throughout the day!
You might be concerned about breaking your concentration or your workflow, and to be sure you should consider what works best with your unique style. In the grand scheme of things, taking a little time away from your computer screen to do some quick exercises throughout the day can actually give your work a performance and productivity boost!
1. Neck Rolls
This is an easy exercise to do at work while sitting! Simply rotate your head and neck slowly, clockwise a few times, then counterclockwise. This stretches out your strained neck muscles and helps improve blood flow to your neck and of course, that brilliant mind of yours. Do this a few times a day to keep your neck loose for an easy, quick booster.
2. Wall Sits
Your office has walls, right? Great! You’re all set for this one.
You should start by backing up against an empty wall, then slowly moving into a “sitting” position until your hips reach the same level as your knees. At this point, your legs should be bent at a 90-degree angle. This exercise works your quads (in your thighs) as well as your core. Try staying in this position for up to one minute and feel that sweet, sweet burn. Do this about 10-15 times for best results.
3. Calf Raises
This one’s easy! Just channel your inner ballerina (or don’t, if ballet isn’t your thing) and stand up on your tip-toes! Slowly raise and lower your body, placing the weight on the balls of your feet and activating your calf muscles. The more deliberately and focused you lift and lower, the more you’ll feel the muscles activate. Do this 10 times.
4. Tricep Dips
This simple exercise can be done with a non-wheeled chair. Scoot up to the edge of your chair, and grip the edge of your seat with both of your arms by your sides. Then, extend your legs outwards and use your arms to lower your body until your arms bend at a 90-degree angle. Keep your core activated and firm and your chest forward throughout this exercise.
It’s important to focus on your triceps during this exercise. It may help to close your eyes and imagine you’re putting all your weight on your arms (avoid distributing that weight to your legs). Try doing three sets of 15!
5. Desk or Wall Push-Ups
Old-fashioned push-ups are one of the best and most holistic upper-body exercises you can do just about anywhere!
For the desk variety, grip the edge of your desk and extend your body fully outward. Then slowly raise and lower your body, like you would with push-ups on the floor. Be sure to activate your core to keep your body straight and your back upright (don’t let your hips fall forward). For the wall variation, place your hands flat against the wall and lean forward and back with the same principles in mind. Try doing three sets of 10 or more.
6. Take the Stairs!
Here’s an exercise you can do every day at work, without attracting attention in the middle of the office! Simply taking the stairs every day is a great opportunity to get some extra cardio, tone your calves and thighs, and get that heart rate pumping for a little extra energy.
You can do some fun variations on this exercise to give it a little more intensity. Try skipping every other step to really feel the burn!
7. Alternate Sitting and Standing Throughout the Day
Though it’s not much exercise as far as how many calories you burn, taking a break from sitting and working while standing up is a great way to counteract the negative effects of sitting all the time. Though you won’t burn many more calories by standing as opposed to sitting down, standing has been shown in many cases to boost alertness and energy levels.
Even just standing for a few minutes at a time throughout the day can make a difference. Because of this, modern offices are increasingly adopting standing desks that lift and lower themselves to suit the unique needs of the user. Since we all have different heights and seated positions, it’s best to have a desk that can lift and lower to custom heights for optimal results.
8. Jog in Place
Running in the workplace is a no-no, but running in place is great for your heart, and doesn’t put any expensive office equipment (or suprised coworkers) at risk of toppling over! It just takes a few short bursts per day to feel the health benefits of this exercise. After all, you’re just looking for an easy way to keep your body happy--no need to run a marathon.
While you’re on your feet, why not throw a few squats into the mix? Keep your back straight, shoulders back and chest out. Spread your feet to about shoulder width, then slowly raise and lower your upper body. The lower the squat, the better the exercise!
You’ll feel the effectiveness of this workout after about 10 reps. Like calf raises, you can challenge yourself with this exercise by wearing a heavy backpack, or putting some books on your head! Just make sure to maintain straight posture to avoid unnecessary pressure on your back.
10. In-Seat Levitation
In-seat levitation is a great exercise to do at work while sitting. This one sounds like magic, but it’s quite easy for anyone to attempt. Simply lift your legs and cross them in your seat, like a genie! Then, use your arms to push down on the armrests and lift your body up for 10-20 seconds.
It’s so easy to exercise at work throughout the day to feel healthy and energized. How many of these can you incorporate into your daily routine?
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