Finding time to exercise is hard when working 40+ hours a week sitting at a desk, on top of typical day-to-day activities. Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day, and only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week. By the time you finish working, doing household chores, cooking, taking care of the children, participating in social activities, etc. it can seem close to impossible to make time for physical activity each day. However, if you stop to plan for physical activity, it can be achieved easily.
Think about those 40+ hours that you spend at your desk a week. Was there ever a time where you were just reading something, taking a break, on a conference call, etc.? Chances are the answer is yes, which means you have time to exercise your body! Taking some time to engage in physical activity allows your mind to take a break, relax, and refocus, which will improve your productivity and quality of work as a whole. Here are a few of our favorite exercises you can do from your desk to stay in shape and make sure you are moving your body every day:
Seated Leg Raises
This exercise is great to incorporate in your leg day routine. It’s a simple exercise you can do while staying seated, and you can even keep working while you do it. All you have to do is sit upright in your chair, with your knees bent and feet touching the ground. Now you raise your left leg so that it is parallel to the ground, keeping it straight the entire time. Hold for 10 seconds. Switch legs. Do this 15 times on each leg, 30 times total.
Sitting at a desk all day can put a strain on your neck muscles. Many people strain to see a computer that is way too low, too high, or not the right brightness. While sitting all day, many people develop an unhealthy way of sitting because they are trying to stay awake and focused. This can lead to other issues like migraines and bad posture. To avoid muscle fatigue, stretch your neck regularly throughout the day. There are many stretches you can do for your neck that include: bringing your chin to your chest, then slowly rolling your neck to each side, and rolling your shoulders to the back and the front. Make sure you are also sitting with good posture to avoid strains.
When working at a desk all day, you may find yourself hunched over and hurting. Lower back problems are a common health problem among office workers. Maintaining good posture will help, but back problems are inevitable when you are sitting all day. Back stretches can relieve tension in the back and keep you from hurting while trying to get work done. Some examples of back stretches include: touching your toes from a standing position, pulling each arm across your chest while looking towards the shoulder of the stretched arm, seated knee to chest stretches, seated hamstring stretches, and more.
Push-ups don’t always require you to get down on the ground. You can modify them easily for different environments. Use the things around you as tools to do exercises, such as your desk or chair-as long as it isn’t going to roll away from you). Your desk can act as a steady surface to do an inclined push-up. Inclined push-ups are much more manageable than a normal pushup in an office environment, and they help stimulate your entire body.
Chair dips are a great way to do a squat with assistance from a chair. To do a chair dip, sit up straight in your chair (bring your shoulders back to open up your chest), scoot to the front of your chair (non-rolling) and place your hand on the sides of the chair, fingers pointing out away from your body. Take your legs out, raising your rear off of the chair, bend your legs, and use your core/arms to lower your body toward the floor and back up. Repeat this for 15 reps and continue to do for three sets.
Regular squats are a great way to activate your glutes and can be done right at your desk. Raise your sit-stand desk and get some squats in, while working, watching a video, listening to a conference call, etc. All you have to do is stand up, feet shoulder-width apart and arms out from your body, parallel to the ground. Lower your bottom to the floor as low as you can go, bending your knees and keeping your back straight the whole way down. Stand back up and repeat this as many times as you want.
Calf raises are an essential exercise because they improve the blood flow from your legs back to your heart. To do calf raises, stand behind a chair and hold for balance, or not for more of a challenge. If not holding the chair, put your hands to your sides, lift on the balls of your feet, go down, lift again, and repeat this multiple times. You want to make sure you are keeping your core tight and hold positions for a few seconds each time. Do as many sets as you would like, but definitely until you feel the burn.
Resistance bands can add a little bit of strength training to your desk exercises. Resistance bands are great for full-body workouts or making an existing exercise more challenging. Some exercises you can do with resistance bands at your desk are leg pulses, one-side leg pulses, arm pulses, Russian twists, standing kickbacks, standing lateral raise, squat to press, and more.
Jog in Place for 60 Seconds
When you’re sitting at your desk feeling groggy, sometimes all you need is to move your body. Get up and jog in place for a minute to bring your heart rate up and get your blood pumping. Jogging in place is sure to wake you up for a little, and if you feel like you need to do it again, it’s a simple exercise to repeat throughout the day. If you don’t feel like jogging at your desk, simply get up and walk around the office a few times. Just get your body moving after sitting for a while.
You can use small dumbbells to add some weight to different focus areas, helping build muscle and different strength outcomes, while offering many benefits for cardiorespiratory fitness and flexibility. Use dumbbells for sidearm raises, squats, core exercises, overhead press, front arm raises, and more.
Physical activity may be the last thing on your mind when you have so much going on, but with a little extra planning and work, it’s achievable. It’s essential to make sure you are getting some physical activity in each day, especially when sitting at a desk for 8+ hours a day. Some other things you can do to get a little more exercise are- eat lunch further away spot, park far from your building, take the stairs, walk outside on lunch breaks, or use the fitness room if your office has one. Use these exercises and tips to get fit at your desk when you don’t have time anywhere else!