Amazing Ways to Exercise Right at Your Desk!
By: Katie Washkowiak
We all know that exercise should be a priority in our everyday lives. Exercising regularly helps control weight, combats health conditions and diseases, improves moods, boosts energy, promotes better sleep, can be fun…and social, and apparently can put the spark back into your sex life. Exercising also reduces your risk of heart attack, lowers the risk of obtaining type 2 diabetes and some cancers, minimized the risk of falls, and will overall give you a healthy state of mind.
With so much happening in the world today, and so many ways to interact with the world today, those of us who work office jobs all day long and have to go straight home to cook dinner, spend time with their kids, and go over bills, don’t exactly have the time to prioritize exercising. I’m a work-at-home mom and I still find it hard to fit exercising into my daily routine, which is something I’ve only recently tried to do. It’s just so hard, right?!
So I started thinking, if I can’t insert exercising into my already jam-packed daily routine, where and when could I insert it without taking away from anything? My mornings are pretty hectic with the dogs, getting my son to school, and catching up on some reading to relax before I start work, so that won’t work. Evenings are filled with practicing piano, catching up on work (if needed), educating my son, and spending time with my husband that it would be incredibly hard to fit in exercising there, even if I somehow asked my husband to help me do so.
And then I thought: wait a minute, I’m a work-at-home mom! Sure my days are filled non-stop with family obligations, therapy sessions, church group, playing with my dogs, working from home, educating my child, practicing piano, and on and on and on…, but I could exercise FROM MY DESK! Or, am I just desperately hoping I can do that?
Turns out, nope! I can. I can exercise from my desk while I’m working and still enjoy the benefits of what exercise improves and reduces! How freaking exciting is this?!?! Like, for real, I can work, exercise, and eat healthy ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!! Woot! And just for the record, even if you’re not a work-from-home mom, you can still find time to fit some of these exercises into your daily routine.
First thing that needs to be mentioned is that the way you sit at your desk is very important. Slouching and not keeping our heads aligned with our spine not only benefits your body, but it might also get rid of some of those back aches and head-aches you may be feeling. Also, your chair needs to be at the correct height, feet are planted flat on the floor, knees and hips are at a 90-degree angle, and you should be looking slightly up at your computer monitor. All of these things will help keep your body from aching and will be equally beneficial when you start your exercise routines at yours desk.
So now that we’ve positioned ourselves in our chairs correctly, let’s start stretching. Some types of stretching include the:
Right ear touches your right shoulder; left ear touches your left shoulder
Reach for the sky
Interlace your fingers together in front of you, keep your palms facing out away from you, and reach them high up in the sky like you’re reaching for the stars!
Turn your head left. Turn your head right. Look up. Look down. Look behind you. All without moving your spine too terribly much.
Chin down to your chest. Now gently roll your head from side to side.
It’s exactly what it sounds like: hold both of your shoulders as high up towards your ears as possible, hold for a few seconds, and then let them relax. You’ll want to do this for a few repetitions.
Put your hands behind your back pressing your palms together, sit up tall, and hold for 5 – 10 seconds.
Right arm up towards the sky. Left leg out towards the wall. Raise left leg up, bring right arm down, and try to touch your left foot with your hand. Repeat with other arm and leg each for about 5 repetitions.
Bring your right knee up and hold it as close to your chest as possible. You’ll want to hold it there for at least 5 seconds and then repeat with your left knee.
Wow! What a work-out! And that was just the stretching part of the exercise available to do at your desk! I know I definitely benefited from it, but I’m still working on my sitting posture too; we all have flaws…
Now, I’m not health coach or scientist or physical rehabilitation person, but I would say that stretching is one of the most important things to do at your desk. It helps reduce stressful aches and pains throughout your body. However, I would also say that diving directly into the head-strong exercises on your first day of just stretching would probably not be a good idea. Personally, I waited a week after doing these stretches 5 days in a row at my desk to move on to the next set of exercises. Overdoing it is not going to help your body, these things take time.
However, if you are ready to move on to the next set of exercises, here they are:
Walk/run/jog in place
I mean, this is pretty self-explanatory, right? Every so often get up from your chair and just walk in place. Act like you’re a soldier but your not actually moving forward.
The floor isn’t the only options to do push-ups on! Try your desk, a nearby wall, or something close by that’s concrete and not going to fall over if you put your full weight on it. Do this 10 times each time.
Stand up from your chair. Good. Now sit back down into your chair. Good. Do this 10 times.
It’s just pretend! You don’t have to go out and buy a jump rope and bring it to the office! That would just be silly… and yet, why is there a jump rope in my bottom desk drawer? Anyway, I digress. It’s just like the walking/running/jogging in place bit where you hop on both feet repetitively. You can hop on both feet, you can alternate, you can add arm movements, whatever you want to do as long as you are hopping like the Easter Bunny nearly just got run over…sad bunny…
When I was in school these were called “toe presses.” Simply stand up behind your office desk chair and hold onto it while you raise your heels off the floor until you’re standing on your toes. Hold for 10 seconds, and repeat.
Find an object small but roughly about 3 -5 pounds. A ream of paper of a few books stacked on top of each other will suffice. Raise them to shoulder height, then all the way over your head, and then back down again.
Is your back against the wall? Yes? Cool. Are you standing up? Yeah? Perfect. Now, slowly allow yourself to slide your back down the wall until you are in a sitting position. Once there, hold for 20 – 30 seconds and then repeat.
Act as if you’re going to propose to your co-workers as you’re walking toward the printer or copier. One leg in front of you as far as it will go, lower the knee of the back leg towards the ground, and repeat with the other leg about 10 times for each leg.
Let out your inner Fred Astaire! Just tap your toes under your desk. Yes, it counts as exercise. Moving your body = exercise! It’s the simplest one!
Split Squat Jumps
Feet hip-width apart, step the left leg back and balance on the ball of your foot. Hold, and then jump, switching your legs while in the air so your right leg is now in the back and your left is in the front.
Mover and Shaker
Dance! Ellen DeGeneres LOVES to dance! Anybody with a heartbeat knows this! But what better way to brighten up your day then to just dance by your desk. Try doing the limbo, or salsa! Oooh! What about the superman?!?! …am I showing my age?
Last Man Standing
Compete with your fellow co-workers and see who can stay standing the longest; standing has been proven to reduce risks of obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases.
The Tipsy Toes
Hey! While you’re standing there… Get up on your tippy toes, pause for 3 seconds at the top, and then go back down! Repeat at least 10 times!
The Seated Leg Raiser
Raise one or both legs up into the air and hold them straight for 5-10 seconds; bring them back down but don’t allow your feet to touch the ground, and repeat!
Hey, while your competing with your co-workers and after you’ve completed doing reps on your tipsy toes, start doing some squats! It’ll help you win the competition because you’re legs won’t be locking up on you!
The Grim Reaper
First off, don’t ask me who came up with these names. Secondly, grab ream of paper from nearby the printer, place it in between your knees, bend your legs towards the bottom of your chair. Repeat.
The Stapler Curl
For this trick, you will need a heavy stapler! Basically, you’re just going to use it as a weight to work out your arms. It’s pretty standard, simple stuff. No heavy stapler? Use something else that you can fit in your hand that’s a little heavy; or bring in your own 3-pound dumb-bells and store them in your desk!
Yoga people! It does stuff! Feet flat on the floor. Great! Palms together. Nicely done. Lift palms up as if you were praying to Lord Jesus to give you a million dollars, and bring your arms towards you keep your palms together. This forces tensions in your arms, helping to lessen stress and better your mood.
It’s exactly what it says it is. Fist pump the air as if you had just gotten a raise or your dream vacation. You can fist pump in front of you, above your head, however you’d like, just rock out with your fists out! Oh, but if you’re pumping out in front of you, beware of breakable things; I do not have the kind of money to replace my computer, let alone yours…
Box in place. There’s a good jab. Oooh, nice upper cut! Was that a right hook swing I just saw?! Nicely done!
Another way to keep your legs from getting locked up during your standing competition is to put your arms down to your sides, lift your palms up behind you, and lift your arms as far back as you can! Repeat a few times, and make sure you’re keeping your arms as straight as possible!
Hand on wall. Bend elbow. Lean towards wall without moving feet. Repeat. It’s basically one-armed push-ups with a wall as your base!
Act like you’re cutting wood while you’re standing up. Or if sports is more your thing, get ready to bat and pretend to either hit a homerun or pick up an ax and chop some wood.
The Office Genie
Did you lose the standing game?! Seriously?! I gave you so many ways to beat everyone else! Ugh. Okay, fine. So, you’re sitting in your chair. Criss-cross applesauce your legs in your chair. Put your hands on the arm rests of the chair and lift yourself up. Repeat a few times. And please make sure your entire body is off the seat of the chair!
Boom! More exercises, baby! I hope you enjoyed my quick how-to on exercising at your…wait, what? There’s more?!?!?!
Of course, there’s more! There’s never a bad time to exercise! There are literally hundreds of things you can do on a daily basis to get some of your workouts in, even with stretching and lunging at your desk during the workday. For instance:
Park farther away from your door
These days it seems like everyone has some kind of fit-bit counting their steps. Heck, even our phones count them for us! Increase those steps by parking farther away from the door to your workplace, but remember to adjust for the 30 extra seconds it might take to get to your desk on time!
Take the stairs
Elevators are fun, yes, even I still get all happy when I feel it moving underneath me. However, taking the stairs will help your heart and work your legs. Plus, MORE STEPS! YAY!
Are you a customer service representative chained to your desk by a phone? Yeah? I’ve been there, believe me, it’s exhausting! But guess what? Stand up. Stand up while you’re on the phone, stand up while you’re waiting for a call, stand up while you’re completing a call, stand up just to stand up. While you’re standing, do some stretches; but please, please, please make sure you still concentrate on doing your job! I do not want to be the reason you get fired! You’ve been warned!
Take a walk break
It’s always nice to just get up and take a quick walk around the office. I used to work at Kay Jeweler’s as a Sales Representative, and there were days where it was just dead. Hardly anyone came in, and I found myself sitting around tapping my fingers a lot. When I started being exhausted just thinking about going in on days I knew were going to be slow, I put myself into a different mindset. I would walk around the middle display case 5 times every half hour if I wasn’t working with a customer. Just being up and about helped to boost my energy, and I got more sales because I was happier.
Need to send your boss an e-mail? Does he have an open-door policy? Then just get up and go ask him without having to type out an e-mail and wait for a response. If he’s busy you may not get an e-mail back for hours! If he’s not, well, awesome! But either way, get up, go to his office, knock on her door, and ask the question; you will get your answer sooner than if you were to have sent an e-mail. Unless, of course, you work on floor one and your boss works on floor 398, then just send the e-mail.
If you live in the city and depend on public transportation to get you to and from places, then the next time you’re on it, get off early. If you’re on a bus and you’re stop is at eighth street but the previous stop is at fifth, get off at fifth and walk the three more blocks! Add to your step-count, plus get in some more cardio! Same with a taxi or the subway station, or what have you. A little bit more walking didn’t do anyone any harm.