Having to sit on a chair behind a desk for 8 hours every day is not exactly the healthiest thing that you can do. However, most of us do have to work, and for many, that means having to sit behind a desk at least 40 hours a week. Just because you’re stuck behind your desk, it doesn’t mean that you totally have to go without exercising, though. For sure, you have 10 or 15 minutes of break time every now and then; and you can use this time to get your blood pumping.
Short of having a gym in your office (not everyone is as lucky as those who work at Google), what exercises can you do while at work? Here are your choices – there are plenty of them!
Of course, you can’t dive straight into your work out without priming your muscles first. Here are some stretches that you can do while sitting in your office chair.
- Neck stretch. Sit straight. Tilt your head to the right slowly, going as far as you can. hold position for 10 seconds. Do the same, this time tilting your head to the left.
- Wrist stretch. Sit straight. Raise your left arm in front of you with the palm up. Use your right arm to hold the fingers of your left hand and slowly pull backwards. You should feel your arm muscles stretching. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then do the same thing with your right arm.
- Lower back stretch. Sit straight and place your left hand just behind your left hip, arm dangling down. Slowly turn your body to the left without moving your feet. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then do the same for the other side.
You can do as many repetitions of these stretches as you like, but the chances are that you’ll feel more relaxed after a several reps.
Your feet and legs probably suffer from sitting down for very long periods of time. That is why health and fitness experts suggest that you should get up from your seat and move around for a bit every now and then. Here are some short and easy exercises that can help you do just that.
- Toe raise. While sitting down, plant your feet firmly on the floor. Raise your toes and keep your heels on the floor.
- ‘Jog’ in place. I am not suggesting that you jog in place while in the office, but here’s an alternative – while sitting down, move your feet up and down as if you were jogging or running. Make one run last at least 30 seconds, rest for a few seconds, and go again.
- Leg extension. Sit straight and make sure your chair will not move back. Raise your left leg slowly until it is at hip level. Hold this position for 2 seconds and slowly lower your leg. Do the same for the right leg. Repeat 16 times, all the while contracting your abs while raising and lowering your legs.
- Hip flexion. Sit straight and make sure your chair will not move back. Raise your left foot from the floor several inches. Hold this position for 2 seconds and then lower your foot. Do the same for the right foot. Repeat 16 times, all the while contracting your abs.
- Walk. If you have time to walk around the office for a few minutes, then do so. Nothing beats taking a walk anyway. If you’re going to the bathroom, choose the farthest one from your chair. It will give you a chance to take a longer walk. Oh, and walk as fast as you can without actually running.
- Lunge. While walking, do some lunges. To do so, simply take the biggest stride you can and lunge forward. You might look silly doing this so choose to walk when there aren’t too many people around.
Your upper body needs as much attention as your lower body, so here are a few simple exercises that you can do. Before you go ahead and do them, grab a large water bottle that has a grip or bring along a medium-sized dumbbell with you to work.
- Bicep curls. Sit straight and hold the bottle or dumbbell in your left hand. Curl your hand towards your shoulder. Do this 16 times and then repeat with your right hand.
- Front raise to triceps press. Sit straight and hold the bottle or dumbbell in your left hand (right side up). Slowly raise your arm until it is level with your shoulder. Pause for a second the continue raising your arm, going all the way over your head. When you’ve gone as far as your arm will let you, slowly bend your elbow all the way. Extend your arm and then lower it slowly. Do this 12 times and then repeat with your right arm.
- Abdominal stretch. This is really simple, with no need for weights. Just sit up and sit on the edge of your chair. Raise both of your arms in front of you, stretch them, and then contract your abdominal muscles. Hold for 2 seconds. Repeat.