Prolonged sitting is a deadly killer, yet many of us do it routinely and without choice. Skipping work responsibilities in favor of the gym isn’t a wise move, regardless of how much it would help your body. As a result, many professionals have found innovative ways to exercise at the office instead.
Many professionals are beginning to notice numerous studies on prolonged sitting that prompt personal action, notably the Journal of the National Cancer Institute’s findings that “people who spend more hours of the day sitting have up to a 66 percent higher risk of developing certain types of cancer than those who aren’t as sedentary.”
Exercising at your desk can help prevent certain types of cancer, as well as avoid the headaches and back pains that often come as a result of sitting in a chair for an extended period. Here are 25 deskercise ideas to give you a useful workout without neglecting office responsibilities:
1. Torso twist — This exercise releases tension in your upper body. Cross one leg over the other and put your opposing elbow on your top thigh. While taking a deep breath, sit up, twist your back and look over your shoulder, exhaling for around 10 seconds before coming back to the resting position. Repeat the other side for another 10 seconds.
2. Finger lace — This helps fend off Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. With your feet squarely on the ground, sit up straight in a chair on its edge, extending your arms and interlacing your fingers. Next, turn your hands so their backs face you, stopping and holding for 30 seconds when your arms are fully extended. You can put your arms above your head to release more tension.
3. Shrug exercise — By shrugging your shoulders up to your ears and slowly bringing them down (and repeating this seven more times), you can effectively release neck and shoulder tension.
4. Upper arm stretch — With your elbows behind your head, pull the right elbow toward the left elbow with your free hand, then repeat on the other side. This stretches out your shoulder and upper arm.
5. Shoulder roll — This is useful for releasing neck and back tension. Simply stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Then, roll your shoulders in a backward circle rotation three times, repeating the same motion forward when you’re done.
6. Prayer stretch — Here’s another exercise to help prevent Carpal Tunnel, which affects four to 10 million Americans. Do a prayer stretch by putting your palms together above your chin, and then slowly moving them down to your chest while pressing inward. Rotate your palms out after 20 seconds until they’re facing downward as you press inward.
7. Back arch — Your back can suffer from extended sitting. To release tension there, lengthen your spine and arch your back with your hands on the back of your hips. As you slowly arch your back while tilting your head back you’ll notice relief throughout the 15 seconds.
8. Paper pushups — For arm strengthening, put both your hands on the surface of your desk and do a dozen or so push-ups at a 45-degree angle.
9. Book press — Put a thick book behind the head and extend both arms upward, dropping the book back down near your neck. Repeat this several times as a triceps muscle-building exercise.
10. Office yoga — Simply bring your yoga mat and find a space to do your favorite poses. Yoga is used by millions around the world to reduce stress and address conditions like neck pain, back pain, anxiety and arthritis, which yoga has shown to help combat.
11. Chair squats — Tone your glutes by standing six inches away from the front of your office chair and lowering yourself down until your butt just taps the edge. Come back up and then repeat until you feel a good burn.
12. Tricep dips — These are the same as paper pushups but backward: Face the other way to work the other side of your triceps.
13. Wall sitting — Stand back against a wall and squat down to reach a 90-degree angle, staying firm and coming back up steadily. This workout will add definition to your quads.
14. Standing calf lifts — Hold your chair with both arms stretched forward. Then, while holding the chair, lift yourself up with the tips of your toes to raise the calves. Hold this for ten seconds and repeat.
15. Pacing — It may annoy some people, but if they don’t mind or your office is small, using a phone call as a way to get up and walk around isn’t a bad exercise.
16. Silent squeeze — This is perhaps the most discreet exercise: Simply tighten your buttocks while sitting down and hold this position for five to 10 seconds. Glutes aren’t naturally used as often by the body, so it’s important to manually work them.
17. Leg raising — While sitting, straighten one or both legs and hold them up and forward, repeating a dozen or so times. For a challenge, add a briefcase or book to the fold.
18. Paper stacker — If available, place a stack of paper between your legs before doing the aforementioned leg raiser. This will tone your thighs even more.
19. Stapler curl — Hold a stapler in one hand with your palm up. Then do several biceps curls with the stapler. This is especially useful with a heavy stapler.
20. Fist pumper — It may look odd, but continuously pumping your fists into the air is a great way to get your heart rate moving and give your arms a nice workout.
21. Shadow boxing — This may look a bit strange as well, but shadow boxing is a fun way to work out your arms and shoulders. Boxing, in both its real and shadow form, serves as a full-body workout. As a Cape Town Medical School study found, a 60-minute boxing session is equivalent to running six miles intensely.
22. Isometric crunches — These crunches can be done anywhere and are recommended by several workout experts for an efficient workout.
23. Back stretch — With your hands directly above your head, extend them down straight and as close to the floor as possible, hopefully touching your palms to the floor. If you can’t make it that far, just go as far as you can: This is a good way to stretch out your back after a long day of sitting or to prepare for it.
24. Push-ups — The classic push-up can be done anywhere and is very thorough, with a wide variety of research confirming its effectiveness.
25. Pranayama breathing — This yoga breathing technique aids in relaxation and internal muscle stretching. With your head tilted upward and your hands folded under your chin, breathe in deeply through your nose as your head tilts down and arms open upward. Then, exhale through your mouth as you resume initial position.
Have any other deskercise tips that you love? Tell us about them in the comments!
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