Let’s face it – squeezing exercise into one’s daily routine isn’t always easy.
This is especially true for those with young children, extracurricular activities and a job that’s on the sedentary side of the work spectrum.
The office worker who’s glued to their desk while typing away for an average of eight-hours per day is going to have to work out much harder in their spare time to get lean and toned than the construction worker building homes or janitor who’s busy scrubbing tough dirt and grime out of floors and toilets.
In addition to the increased likelihood of packing on the pounds, sitting all day can come with a whole slew of health problems. From eye strain and poor posture to backaches and carpal tunnel syndrome, one’s desk and computer screen can take a toll on their overall well being. But just because you have to sit at a desk all day, doesn’t mean it’s time to accept your fate of a thicker derriere, strained vision and back problems.
Here are 5 exercises to do at your desk that will keep any potential problems at bay and help you to become a lean, mean typing machine in no time.
1. Release Tension with the Shoulder Shrug
Despite already working a full 40-hour work week, your boss just came by your cubicle to ask if you could work some overtime this weekend. After agreeing, you suddenly remember you’ve made plans to go hiking with your wife – you know she’s not going to be happy. Just the mere thought of disappointing her again causes your back and shoulders to reactively stiffen. Sound familiar?
To relieve tightness and tension in the shoulder and neck area, The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety recommends a simple exercise called a Shoulder Shrug. Fortunately, one doesn’t need any costly gym equipment to partake in this one.
Start by raising the top of your shoulders towards your ears until you feel slight tension in your neck and shoulders.
Once you feel that tension, hold it for three to five seconds and then relax your shoulders into their normal position.
Feel it working? Do it another two-to-three times and you’ll loosen those muscles and alleviate any stress.
2. On the (Exercise) Ball
Would you like to strengthen your core while typing up that annual report? Yes, you can work on that six-pack without doing a single sit up. It’s true! To get started on the path to washboard abs, simply replace your regular desk chair with a stability ball for one full hour a day. While sitting, you’ll naturally tighten your core to stay balanced – come on, do you really want to take a tumble and be the talk of the water cooler? Leave that title to the dude three desks down who decided it would be a good idea to dance a table at the Christmas party.
If you find you’re able to easily handle an hour, gradually bump it up to two hour – and for the really ambitious, try using it all day.
3. Squats and Lunges
Unless you’re hooked up to a catheter, chances are you’re going to have to leave your desk to answer to the call of nature at one point. You’re also going to have to refill your glass at the water cooler to stay hydrated – perhaps even nuke some leftovers in the lunch room. Whether it’s to alleviate or nourish yourself, both present a prime opportunity for exercise.
For example, the next time you’re waiting in line for the loo, use that time productively to do 10 squats. Need to refill your water glass? Try lunging your way to the water cooler. Sure, you’re probably going to get a few looks, but imagine all the heads you’re bound to turn with your tightly toned physique.
4. Dip Exercises for Perfect Triceps
Bid farewell to those dreaded ‘bat wings’ by putting your arms behind your back and resting on your chair, while slowly raising and lowering yourself. Note: Make sure chair will not move or you can end up on the floor –or worse, with an injury.
5. Feel the Burn – Nobody Has to Know
While the four aforementioned exercises may cause a few raised eyebrows from curious coworkers, there’s one particular exercise that will slip under their radar and give you buns of steel – clenches.
Simply clench your buttocks and the hold for 10 seconds. Try doing up to 5 sets of 8 reps to begin with and then slowly increase your reps.
In addition to reducing soreness and tension caused by sitting for hours on end, these daily exercises will ensure a healthy supply of blood to your muscles. And while it’s important to stay active, don’t forget to take periodic breaks and micro pauses to counter the effects of long workdays. Before starting to exercise, see your healthcare provider if you have a medical condition or injury in a part of the body involved in any of the exercises.