Five Desk Exercises to Keep You Moving at Work
Sitting at a desk all day isn’t just uncomfortable, it can be damaging to your health. Scientists have found that sitting for long periods of time may be linked to alterations in blood proteins that lead to heart disease as well as early cognitive decline. Yikes!
Luckily, there’s an easy solution: take a break! When you interrupt long periods of motionless work with a little bit of movement, like stretches or muscle-toning exercises, you’ll be able to counter any negative effects of that nine-to-five job.
Here are five of our favourite exercises to get the blood flowing at your desk:
1) Work on Your Neck and Shoulders
When we sit scrunched over a desk all day, our shoulders start to creep up towards our ears, which can wreak havoc on the muscles in our neck and upper body. A simple exercise to let go of that tension is to do shoulder rolls. First, you’re going to sit up or stand up nice and tall so that you’re not leaning forward or back. The key here is to link your muscle movements with your breath, so you’re going to lift your shoulders up to your ears while you breathe in, and then rotate them back and down as you exhale. Try to elongate your breaths so that you’re lifting for about four to five seconds and exhaling for five or six seconds. You’ll notice that every time you breathe out, you’ll naturally sit a little taller and your collar bone will lift up to the ceiling. Repeat this move about ten times.
2) Take Care of Your Back
Just like our neck and shoulders hold onto tension while we work, our spines tend to become rigid as the muscles in our back are forced to keep us in one position for too long. A great type of stretch that will loosen those muscles is a twist, and there are a few variations that you can choose. If you’re seated, start with your right hand and reach up towards the ceiling. Without allowing your shoulder to creep up towards you ear, reach up as you inhale for five seconds, then take that right arm and make a big arc backwards as you open up to the right side to grab the back of your chair or stool. Hold for five seconds and then do the same on the other side. Repeat at least twice more on each side.
If you’re standing, you might opt for a more free-flowing twist. You can stand with your feet planted hip-width apart and, without moving your hips, twist your upper body one way and then another. Let your hands go loose so that they twirl a bit as you twist.
3) Hips and Thighs
There are plenty of ways for you to loosen up your hip joints and tone your thighs while you’re at your desk. A challenging one is this leg lift variation: if you’re seated, make sure that your spine is nice and tall with your shoulders down and back. Starting with your right leg, lift your foot straight up so that your toes are pointed to the ceiling. Hold for two seconds and then move your leg out in a straight line to the right and back to centre. Lower your foot and move to the other side. For stability, hold on to the arms of your chair or the edges of your stool, and make sure that your left knee doesn’t move too much. Every movement should be slow, smooth and deliberate, so that you’re really working the top, outer, and inner muscles of your thigh.
If you’re standing for this one, you can tone the same muscles by lifting one leg straight up with toes pointing to the ceiling, lowering the leg, and then lifting it to the side.
Your calves are probably the easiest to engage while you’re working because you can feel the burn with a very simple move: calf crunches. If you’re seated, contract the calf muscle and push your toes into the floor as with as much force as you can. Hold for two seconds, then release. Repeat ten times, rest for 30 seconds, and start again. If you’re standing, you can do the same thing by coming up on your toes for two seconds and releasing back to the ground.
To get a good ab workout, you don’t have to get on the ground. Instead, you can do chair toe taps by scooting to the front edge of your seat and finding stability by gripping the arms or the seat of your chair next to your thighs. Lean back with a straight back and lift your knees towards the ceiling so that your feet hover off the ground. Then, at your own pace, tap one toe and then the other to the ground for 30 seconds. If this is too easy, you can pick up the pace or add another rep after a short break.
And there you have it! Simple exercises and stretches that will prevent muscle tension and allow for better circulation. Challenge yourself to do all five exercises at some point throughout the day. After all, you should be giving yourself a little movement break every thirty minutes.
Now that you know how to break up your day with healthy exercises, why not take it to the next level and invest in office furniture that can keep you moving in between breaks? Fitneff offers a range of motion-oriented devices from adjustable standing desks to desk pedals to versatile seating options so that you never have to worry about becoming stationary at work. You’ll be able to increase blood flow and tone your muscles without conscious effort, so that at the end of the day, you don’t feel like you need a full body massage.
After just one day of making these small changes to your routine, you’ll notice the difference. Try it out and see!