Although certain jobs require plenty of physical movement, others call for hours upon hours of sitting. After numerous hours at the office and even more stuck in traffic or on public transit, finding time to make it to the gym can be difficult. But you can get healthier without making radical life changes. Although standing desks are becoming more popular in the workplace, standing all day can impact your health negatively. The most important thing you can do in the office is get up and move. Take a stroll around the office, walk up and down the stairs or take a few moments to stretch—all that matters is that you’re moving. We at Ebates have compiled 18 exercises you can do easily at your desk.
Practice Perfect Posture
Having safe and comfortable desk ergonomics is key if you’re sitting for multiple hours a day. Adjust your chair height to make sure your feet, hips and arms are at 90-degree angles to the floor. Don’t slouch! Engage your core and keep your back straight throughout the day.
Take the Stairs
Taking the stairs has dual benefits: It allows you to avoid uncomfortable elevator small talk and easily elevates your heart rate. Take two at a time every other flight if you’re looking for a real challenge.
Wall push-ups are suitable for dress shirts and skirts alike. Stand one to two feet from a wall, and lean forward until your palms are flush against the wall with your arms straight and parallel to the ground. Bend your elbows to bring your body toward the wall, hold for three seconds and then push back to your original position. Do this for 10 to 15 reps.
Release your pent-up frustration by shadow boxing. Stand up and throw a few jabs, hooks and uppercuts in rapid succession, trying not to hit your coworkers or computer screen. Continue for 60 seconds or longer if you really need to blow off some steam.
The easiest and perhaps most rewarding exercise you can do is to simply walk around your office. Take a stroll to say hi to the accounting team or welcome the newest intern. Or wander over to a colleague’s desk instead of sending an email to get in some face time while also benefiting your health.
Desk Chair Swivels
If you have a swivel chair, have some fun with it! Sit upright with your feet hovering over the floor and hold onto the edge of your desk. Use your core to swivel the chair side to side. Continue for 15 to 30 seconds.
Incorporating some of your favorite yoga poses throughout the day is a great way to get out of your chair and stretch. It’s easy to stand up and practice a forward fold or balance in tree pose. Or stay seated and stretch into a backbend or twist.
Work out your traps by rolling your shoulders back until your shoulder blades are pinched together. Pretend you’re holding a pencil between them, holding for up to 10 seconds. Release and repeat for 10 to 15 reps.
Take a little break from sitting at your desk and writing endless emails to jog in place for one minute. Pick up your knees for more of a burn. Write a few more emails and repeat.
Build up some strength and endurance with wall sits. Place your back against a wall, bend your knees and slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Sit and hold for at least 30 seconds, eventually pushing yourself to 60 seconds or more. You can even play games on your phone during this one.
If you use a standing desk, you’re already burning more calories than if you use a sitting desk. But you can add a squat for even more of a burn. Stand with your feet together and bend your knees so your thighs are almost parallel to the ground, as if you are sitting. While bending, raise your arms either straight up or toward the computer screen. Hold the squat for 15 seconds. Repeat for five reps.
Seated Leg Raises
These leg raises can be done at your desk and are hardly noticeable. While seated, straighten either one or both of your legs and hold in place for at least five seconds, if not longer. Lower your legs back to the ground, but do not let your feet touch the floor. Repeat (alternating legs if you’re doing one at a time) for 15 reps. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, loop a purse strap over your ankles for added weight.
Test out your shoulder shrugs simply by raising both shoulders toward your ears, holding for five seconds and releasing. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps. Just make sure you’re not in a meeting while doing this one!
Waiting at the water cooler or printer? Take this time to sculpt your calves with calf raises. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, press up onto the tips of your toes, pause at the top for a moment and then lower back down. Do 12 to 15 of these for three sets, or whenever the printer is done with your job.
Pump it up in the office and tone your arms at the same time. Fist punch straight into the air and alternate for at least 60 seconds. Play “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor—guaranteed to burn even more calories!
Similar to dumbbell curls, stapler curls are very simple to do while reading emails. Place your stapler in one hand with your palm facing up. Starting at your thighs, bend your elbow and curl your arm upward to your chest. Pause for a moment and then lower your arm back down. Continue for 10 to 15 reps and switch sides. This exercise can also be done with a filled water bottle.
Although this one doesn’t exactly get you out of your seat, it’s great for a boost of energy and is downright fun! Throw on a favorite tune (via your headphones) and just go to town with a bit of seated dancing. Whether you want to shake your booty to some hip-hop or do a little tango or salsa, this one will get your energy going when no one is looking!
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