Nowadays, work usually means pretty much being glued to a chair all day long. Unlike our ancestors who had a very active life because they had to move to get things done, today most workers live a sedentary lifestyle for 8 or more hours a day, 5 days a week. While this has become a norm, prolonged sitting has proven to negatively affect both your body shape and your health.
The good news is there’s a way to break this vicious cycle. Work doesn’t doesn’t have to mean being stuck in the same place without moving all day. Exercises in the office, sometimes known as deskercises, are now a highly recommended alternative to prevent unwanted weight gain and health risks such as strokes. They may not get you killer abs, but they will definitely help you burn a few extra calories and boost your wellness!
Here are 12 simple yet effective exercises that will turn your sedentary desk job into an active environment:
1. Walk as much as you can.
Whether this means to the bathroom (drink lots of water!), the farthest-away printer, or to get lunch, just do it. You may not notice the difference, but every step counts. If you wear a Fitbit or other wearable, this will be fun!
2. Calf raises.
This one of the easiest deskercise on this list since all it requires is lifting your calves 20-50 times whenever you can. Calf raises require little effort but can yield great results. These is best done while standing, so do them while you’re waiting for the printer to finish, or while you’re in line at lunch.
3. Leg lifts.
Similar to calf raises, you can extend one leg or both legs straight in front while sitting. Lift them 15-25 times or keep them lifted for as long as you can, keeping your abs tight. No one will notice and you don’t even have to move from your chair!
4. Chair movement.
If you’re human you’ve probably played around on a "rolly" chair before (or at least tried to). Use this deskercise as an excuse to play! You can push your chair back and forth with your feet placed in the same spot on the floor to work your legs and abs. Another alternative is to grab the edge of your desk with your hands and raising your feet to work your arms as well.
Keep a pair of weights near your desk as an excuse to move your arms. You can use them while sitting down, when walking to the bathroom, or any time they won’t interfere with your tasks.
To blow off some steam after working non-stop on a project, try doing push-ups against your desk. Simply put both hands on your desk and place your feet back to form a 45 degree angle. Lean in and push back.
7. Tricep dips.
Similar to push-ups, place your hands on your chair while facing away and your legs extended, creating a 90 degree angle with the floor. Bend your legs and arms and lift back up for 15-25 times.
Probably one of the most painful but powerful exercises on this list! Stand against a wall and squat down to a 90 degree angle. You can slide back up and repeat for 15-25 times but for better results stay in the 90 degree angle position for as long as you can (try to reach 1 minute and soon you’ll have a toned tush). Try doing this exercise each time you go to the bathroom.
9. Shoulder movement.
Push back your shoulders so the blades are as close together as possible. Hold for a few seconds and release. You can also raise both shoulders up toward your ears (shrug), hold for a few seconds and then relax. Repeat both 15-25 times.
Every time something worth celebrating happens at work you can do squats, jumping jacks, or jog a lap around the office to release endorphins and be even happier!
Stretching is always a great idea! Not only does it help you relax and relieve back pain, but it is also a good exercise. You can put your arms above your head and pretend you’re reaching the sky and then push them backwards to stretch your back as well. Moving your head around is also a good way of stretching the muscles in your neck. Move your shoulders in circling movements to reduce tension.
12. Last but not least, ALWAYS take the stairs!
Don’t bother with the elevator or escalator - engage your legs in activity. Try taking two steps at a time for a real leg burn; the higher your floor the more exercise you’ll do!
As simple as they may sound, these deskercises will boost your health and productivity. After a few months you’ll not only begin to notice results (especially if you hit the gym as well) and feel better.