Ready, set, desk-ercise!!
Between work, meals, driving, and watching tv, the average person sits for 13 hours a day1. Combine that with 8 hours of sleep and we are basically sedentary. Doctors call sitting the new smoking and the list of risks from extended inactivity is constantly growing. Even knowing the warnings, it is sometimes impossible to leave your desk. We have put together a list of some quick exercises you can do to get your blood flowing and muscles working without having to leave your chair!
Get some feeling back into your legs while stretching your hamstrings with a seated leg raise! Sit upright in your chair with both feet on the ground. Straighten one leg while pointing your toes to engage your quadriceps. Flex your foot to deepen the stretch on the underside of your leg and loosen your Achilles tendon. Hold for five seconds then lower and repeat on the other side. Keep your core tight and breathe deeply during the extension. For an extra challenge, bring some ankle weights to work! If you don’t want to buy ankle weights, loop your purse or briefcase over the top of your foot for resistance.
Maintaining proper posture is a constant battle when you spend most of your day hunched over a laptop. A study from Inej University in South Korea confirmed that prolonged computer work can alter the position of your scapula and lead to musculoskeletal problems later in life2. In addition to stretching your shoulders and chest, strengthening your back muscles can help fight against those effects. Arm circles are the perfect exercise to protect your posture!
Start by extending your arms to the side. Spread your fingers, flex your wrist and try to get your palm as vertical as you can. Lift your shoulders up, back, and down so they are engaged and not up by your ears. Do 25 small circles clockwise and then repeat the exercise counter-clockwise. This stretches your forearms and activates the small muscles in your back that control your posture. Try to do this 3 times a day.
Sitting all day puts a lot of pressure on your feet and calves2. Tingling toes and swollen ankles should not be ignored as these can be a sign of venous insufficiency, a condition where blood pools in your veins instead of circulating back to your heart. While sitting at your desk, start by rotating your ankle to get some movement back. Plant your feet and start elevating your heel while pressing the ball of your foot into the ground. Flex and hold your calf muscle at the top of your raise. Slowly lower your heel back to the ground and imagine that you are pushing through peanut butter. Do 15 repetitions and finish with more ankle rotations.
The smallest movements have the ability to get your blood flowing and muscles activated. Isometric holds are an easy strength move that can also increase your energy and get your heart pumping. Sit upright in your chair, lengthen your spine, lift your chin so it is parallel to the ground and inhale deeply. Start contracting your glute muscles so you sit a couple inches higher in your seat. Hold this pose for 10 seconds then slowly release. Repeat five times.
This simple ab exercise engages your whole core without leaving your chair! Scoot towards the edge of your seat and stretch your legs as far as they can go in front of you. With your toes pointed, slowly start lowering your shoulders towards your backrest but don’t lean on it. Lightly grasp the seat of your chair, raise your legs off the ground, and puff your chest out while contracting your abs. Lift and squeeze your knees in towards your chest like boat pose in yoga. Extend back out and repeat for 20 reps.
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