Having a deskbound job doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your fitness – here are some easy exercise hacks for work you can do every day.
You’re up with the ergonomics of desk work and not being sedentary for too long by trying to take regular breaks and using supportive chairs or stand-up desks to try to break up the long hours of sitting.
But the combo of busy professional and personal lives can mean getting to the gym or doing other physical fitness activities is challenging. The answer?
Use those occasional breaks – let’s say one each hour for a standard 8-hour day – to do a short exercise at your desk, whether at the workplace or working from home.
Here are seven to get you started!
Note: With most of these, do 6-8 reps in sets and over time add more reps if you feel up to it. And remember, always consult with a professional if you carry injuries or have other health conditions before doing any of these!
1. Tri dips
Using a supportive chair (not with wheels!), position yourself at the front edge of the chair, place your palms flat on the chair, bend your elbows straight back and lower yourself down as far as is comfortable, keeping your back as close to the chair as possible, then straighten your arms to rise back up.
2. Desk push-ups
Gently check that your desk is strong enough to support your body weight, then take a few steps back, place your hands flat on the desk just beyond shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself toward your desk, focusing on your core, then push back up until your arms are straight but not locked. You can also use a wall, which can be an easier way.
3. Calf raises
A really easy one you can do anywhere (great for when you’re flying long distance too!), calf raises are as simple as they sound: Raise your heels off the floor until you are standing on your toes, then slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Use your desk chair for support if necessary.
4. Oblique twists
Our hips can get a bit locked in sitting at a desk all day, so this is a great one to work through, but you do need a swivel desk chair to make it work to the best effect. Sit upright with your feet just above floor level, hold onto the edge of your desk and use your core to swivel the chair from side to side.
(A great accompaniment to this is to lay on your back and bring your legs up into a position as though you are sitting, holding this for 30-45 seconds.)
5. Neck rolls
This may not feel that physical, but, given how much time we spend staring at a computer screen, leading to a lot of tension in the neck, doing a simple neck roll is almost as important as any other exercise you can do. Relax, lean your head forward and slowly roll it in a circle on one side for 10 seconds then repeat in the other direction.
6. Shoulder stretch
Just as you carry a lot of tension in your neck, shoulders can take a beating too, so to get some of that stress out, clasp your hands together straight above your head, palms facing upwards and gently push up, taking in 2-3 deep breaths then releasing your shoulders down.
7. Final work exercise hack: Next meeting? Take a hike! Or, a walk…
While some meetings need whiteboards or big screens or a boardroom to sit around and discuss “big issues”, others, particularly one-on-ones, can be done…while walking! Getting out of the workspace for that 15-20 minute meeting, even in a group, is a great way to sneak in a little cardio while still getting some work done. There are even studies that show productivity is boosted with walking.
And, you can even pick up a coffee on the way back, so there’s a bonus!
*This is meant as general advice only and should not be taken as professional exercise advice. Speak to a GP, personal trainer or allied health provider if you need more tailored and specific exercise advice.
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