There are millions of busy people who consider the gym as enemy territory when it comes to exercise. Some just don’t have the time for a lunchtime power walk. Millions more can’t or don’t go running, and countless double-job types lack the spare time to join a rowing, soccer, yoga or other club. Whatever your excuse, being desk-bound makes us more prone to poor health, obesity and slumping shoulders, which can cause damage to both your body and productivity.
For those people who tend to spend all day, every day, at their desk, there are some simple tricks at hand to help get the heart rate going, to work some muscles, often without having to get out of your chair or leaving the comfort of that air conditioned office. From the obvious to the ingenious, try these short bursts of workout and you can feel healthier, live longer and be less stressed as you benefit from the power of a little exercise.
If you’re the boss, then encouraging these activities, should help make your workplace a little more productive.
Exercise Around the Office
1. Take the stairs
Stairs were invented to make humans suffer, but through that suffering comes health benefits, stretching leg muscles and raising the heart rate. If you only have to take a couple of flights, then do that a few times a day to give your body a nudge. If you have the benefit of working in a skyscraper then build up your endurance by taking more trips to the executive suite, two at a time to get some real exercise. You’ll start to see some staggering benefits of just a little daily stair work out.
2. Think on the go
Instead of brainstorming in your cubbyhole or a huddle room, take a stroll around whatever public space your office allows. March the halls with a pen and clipboard and no one will challenge your clearly superior intellect at work, and it will help ramp up your pedometer count too.
3. Stand and deliver results
Working standing up is a growing trend among power thinkers, with the right ergonomic layout for PC and devices, standing up helps prevent hunching of the chair-bound worker and keeps the blood flowing. Alternating between standing for tasks like phone calls and rote work, then sitting down for your job’s heavy lifting helps make a difference to your approach and helps burn a few more calories.
Read about the benefits of being up and about over stagnating at your desk.
Bench Press Your Desk
1. Have a ball
If you don’t have a big budget for fancy furniture, the Mk.1 office desk is still a good place to do some exercises. Replace the chair with an exercise ball and your body is constantly making small adjustments as you move and helping you keep a more natural pose.
2. Dip at your desk
Ideal for when there is no one around, face away from your desk, grip the edge with your hands and move your feet forward so there’s room to raise and lower your self. Use your arms and dip, repeating until you start to feel the strain, or the cleaner turns up.
3. Stretching your limits
Everyone stretches at their desk. It is a natural way to show your body is getting uncomfortable. Take those stretches to the next level by putting your hands together above your head and stretching from side to side, slowly and smoothly to help get the kinks out of those side muscles, to lift your shoulders and raise your spine out of its slump.
The ever-useful WebMD has a range of additional exercises to try at the desk to help improve your health and make you more productive.
Be the Chair Master
1. Chair launches
While modern health and safety means no more frantic office chair races for most of us, there’s still plenty of opportunity to spin those wheels. Just arrange your area, so that two things you regularly access are just far enough apart, and you can launch yourself between them, exercising your legs and getting up some speed.
2. That floating feeling
If your chair is sturdy enough, then put your hands on the arm rests and lift your torso up, then fold your legs under your butt to help stretch your joints. Hold that position until it starts to get uncomfortable, unfold and lower yourself, repeat often for a healthy dose of alfresco weightlifting.
3. Stretch and bend
Another good stretch for when you are sat down is to raise your back straight, then squeeze your shoulder blades together, hold for a few seconds, then roll your shoulders in a gentle circular motion. Repeat those steps a few times to help reduce stress across your shoulders and improve your stature. Explore more stretching advice from the Mayo Clinic.
4. Don’t be a pain in the neck
Finally, turn your head and look at your shoulder, the gentle strain should be held for a few seconds, then roll your head around to look at the other shoulder to stretch your neck muscles. Repeat a few times and your neck will be better prepared for that next spreadsheet marathon. For more posture related exercises, check out this blog.
Naturally, stop if you hear anything internal going crunch or straining unusually, or if you hear security or human resources coming thundering along the corridor. With a set of these exercise, and some inventiveness on your part, there’s no need to worry about being a gym bunny, you can do it all in the office, just remember the antiperspirant, okay!