8 Desk (Or Nearby) Exercises For An Office Workout
If you’re reading this, you’re probably sitting down at a desk. Better yet, you’re probably sitting at a desk hunched over (unless you’re like me and sit on a stability ball). And let’s face it; we’ve been sucked into such a busy lifestyle – hours in front of a computer, longer work days, copious hours of studying, juggling our social lives with our academic or work lives, that we’ve forgotten how to take time out for ourselves.
From the commute to work, an 8-hour workday, the commute home, and relaxation on the couch, you’ve spent most of your awake hours in a sedentary position. Prolonged sitting can lead to back pain, leg cramps, bad posture and tense muscles. Sitting on your keister has also been linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer, as well as obesity and a shorter lifespan. You actually burn more calories chewing gum than sitting at your desk.
Sitting for more than one hour can be detrimental to your circulation and your metabolism. In a recent study, men who normally walked over 10,000 steps a day were asked to decrease their steps to less than 2,000 a day. Scientists noticed that their ability to metabolize sugars and fats slowed down dramatically causing them to gain fat around their mid section.
You may not have time to fit in an entire cardio or strength training routine, but a micro-break in between tasks can get your heart rate up and allow for some physical activity. You should exert yourself at the aerobic level for 60 seconds periods of time, 10 times a day for a total of 10 minutes, to allow your heart rate to go from rested to pumped. If you can’t get the cardio piece in, try to stretch your muscles as frequently as possible.
Whether you’re a fitness junkie whose too bogged down to fit in a workout for the day or someone who’s itching to get a few moments of stress relief into your hectic schedule, these desk exercises are exactly what you need to reset yourself and get your blood flowing.
Training season is upon us! Join the pros in this quick feet drill. You can do this seated (particularly if you don’t want people starting at you) or standing (if you’ve got a private office or you just don’t care whose watching). With your feet about hip distance apart and crouched over, rapidly move your feet for about 30 seconds. Want a boost? Add in some quick uppercuts. Repeat 2-3 times in one micro-break.
Did your office mate take a coffee break? Start the clock and do some jumping jacks! This exercise is a full body workout and fires up your quads and hamstrings. Sick of the standard jack? Try doing T-Jacks (arms up like a standard one, then arms wide, making the letter T with your arms), Alternating Arm Jacks (one hand up, one hand down, then switch), or Cross-legged Jacks (crisscross your legs and alternate the front leg). Change up the angle of your arms at any point in time or add in a light-weight (1-2 pounds) for added resistance.
While seated, raise your right leg until it is level with your hip. Hold this position for 10 seconds, and then switch legs for one rep. Complete three sets of 10 reps. Add in those light weights by resting them on your ankle.
Reading an email? Enlarge the text, move your chair back, and start squatting. With your legs hip distance apart, squat down as if you were going to sit in a chair (yes, your butt is out in the air). Hold this position and look at your form, your knees should be directly above your ankles, creating a 90-degree angle. Stand back up. This is one rep. Repeat this 10 times and on your last squat, stay down and pulse (move up and down just barely an inch) for five seconds. Complete three sets of 10 reps.
On a conference call? Put it on speaker-phone or slide on your headset and pick up those light weights. If you can do this standing, go for it. Start with a shoulder press. With your arms up like a goal post and with a 90-degree angle at your elbows, press your arms upwards above your head until they meet at the top. Slowly bring your arms back to the beginning position. This is one rep. Repeat this 12 times for a complete set. Spread your arms out to a T, making sure they do not drop down lower than your shoulders. Slowly pulse upwards and downwards about one inch. Do this for 60 seconds. You should feel the burn about half way through.
Chair or Desk Dips
Work those triceps! If you’ve got a swivel chair, be careful or do this on your desk. Pull your chair away from your desk, with your back towards the chair. Place your palms on the seated portion, with your fingers pointing towards your body. Move your body away from the seat, bracing your body weight. Bending your elbows, slowly lower yourself down towards the floor and push yourself back up. This is one rep. Complete 12 reps for a complete set. For more resistance, straighten and extend your legs, or switch legs during the dip.
Neck and Back Stretching
Give your poor neck a break from staring straight ahead. Sitting up straight with both feet flat on the floor, turn your neck to one direction while shifting your torso in the opposite direction. Hold for several seconds, and then return to normal. Switch directions and hold again. Do this 15 times to relieve stress in your neck and back.
Receive some frustrating news? Need to clear your mind? Stand up and start punching. Throw in some jabs, uppercuts, hooks, and crosses. Do a bob and weave. If you’re feeling adventurous and know how to kick without throwing out your back, have at it. Try creating a combination (left jab, left jab, right cross, left uppercut). Punch like you mean it to sculpt your arms.
Note: If any of these exercises begin to feel uncomfortable or painful, cease the exercise or tone down the movement.
Michigan State University: Desk Stretches Video
InfoGraphic: Exercises To Do While Sitting At Your Computer