If you are sitting down and reading this article right now, you should stop! Okay, well don’t stop reading, but you might want to stand up to finish it. I will make sure to give you some exercises to do at your desk later, and you’re going to want to.
Our modern lives have been engineered so that we can spend most of it sitting down. Unfortunately, sitting is literally killing us.
On average, we spend about 9.5 hours a day sitting. Compare that to the 7.5 hours of sleep we are getting on average, we are doing a lot of sitting.
Little changes here and there can go a long way in keeping you healthy and happy.
Stretch at Your Desk
1. Rubber Neck
Sit up tall and drop your right ear down towards your right shoulder (you don’t have to touch it!) and hold for a few seconds and repeat for the left side.
2. Reach for the Stars
Interlace your fingers and reach up towards the sky, as high as you can … keeping your palms facing up towards the ceiling.
3. Look Around<
Turn your head the left and try and look over your shoulder and hold for a few seconds … repeat on the right.
Drop your chin down towards your chest and GENTLY roll your head from side to side.
Raise both shoulders up towards your ears and hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat a few times for good measure.
6. Chest Opener
Bring your hands behind your back, press your palms together, sit up tall and hold for 5–10 seconds.
7. Seated Toy Soldier
Sit up tall and extend your right arm all the way up towards the ceiling. Straighten your left leg out and raise it up as you bring your right arm down and try to touch your left foot. Do 8–10 on each side.
8. Knee Hugger
With a bent knee, lift your right leg up and grab it with your arms and pull it in as close to your chest as you can. Hold for 5–10 seconds and make sure and do it on the left side, too.
9. Reach and Bend
Extend your right arm over your head and reach out as far as you can to the left and gently bend over. Hold for a few seconds and do it the other way.
10. Knee Press
This one stretches out the glutes. With your right ankle on your left knee, gently press against the right knee a few times. Of course, after you’re done with the right side, be sure and give the left side some love, too.
Exercises to do at your desk
Stretching is fantastic, and it’s definitely something you should be including in your office workout plan, but what if you’re ready to take things to the next level? Check out the following exercises.
1. Walk/Jog/Run in Place
30–45 seconds. 3–5 times. This one is as simple as it sounds. Stand up from your chair and get to it. Anyone can do this one, you are in control of the intensity based on the pace you choose. Want an even bigger challenge? Bring your knees up to waist level.
From your chair, stand up, sit back down and repeat 10 more times. Simple!
3. Pretend Jump Rope
Hop on both feet at once, or alternate. Increase the intensity by adding the arm movements you would do if you had a rope.
4. Calf Raises
Stand up behind your chair and hold on for support. Raise your heels off the floor until you are standing on your toes. Slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Do 3 sets of 10.
5. Glute Squeeze
This is an isometric move. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can and hold for 10–30 seconds.
6. Shoulder Press
Look around the office and find an old phone book or a ream of paper, something that weighs a few pounds. Hold it at shoulder height and then raise it all the way overhead. 10 reps. 3 times.
Leave Your Desk, Exercise Everywhere
Burning some extra calories at your desk is one thing, but how about getting even more movement throughout the day?
1. Park farther away
There is something strangely gratifying about the ability to get the nearest parking spot to the entrance, but parking at the edge of the lot will help you get a lot of extra steps in your day.
2. Take the stairs
Don’t like making small talk on the elevator? Take the stairs instead. The stairs are a great way to increase your heart rate and tone up those legs.
3. Do it yourself
Having an assistant may be a perk of your job, but if you got your own coffee and walked over to the copier more often you would be spending less time sitting.
4. Stand up
If you have to be on the phone a lot, what better time to stand up and do some stretches. Seriously, go ahead, the other person can’t see you!
5. Take a walk break
Schedule 10–15 minutes a day to just walk. See how many steps you can get on your fitness tracker. If it’s nice outside, go get some fresh air. Put it on your calendar to make sure it happens. Better yet, find someone to go with you and hold hold each other accountable.
6. Walk and talk
Why not have a walking meeting next time instead of sitting in a cold conference room at a table with stale donuts? And because exercise improves brain function (5), you may come up with some of your best ideas!
7. Get to cooking
When you spend time in the kitchen chopping veggies and looking in the oven you are being more active than you realize. The added benefit of this is preparing your own meals is a much healthier alternative to fast food or something you just throw in the microwave.
8. Walk and fly
If most of your time is spent in airports waiting to go to the next town, use that time to your advantage. Airline travel can be frustrating with all the layovers and delays, but walking around instead of resigning yourself to your gate for another hour could actually relieve some stress.
Ideally you should get up from your desk at least once an hour, even if it’s not exercises to do at your desk. Set an alarm to remind you to stop squinting at that Excel worksheet and get up and move. Walking for just two minutes an hour can reduce the negative effects of sitting. You aren’t still sitting right now are you?