We know how important it is to get plenty of exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that we get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise five times a week. However, for some of us that work eight hours a day and have responsibility lists so long that our heads spin, finding those 30 minutes to workout seems impossible. If you find yourself feeling that way, you are not alone. Luckily, there are exercises you can do at work every hour that will just take up five minutes of your time.
Stretching and flexibility are important aspects of our physical well-being that are often overlooked. There are several stretches that do not require you to stop working or even leave your chair.
- While talking on the phone, stretch your wrists and hands by extending one arm and gently pulling your hand upward and your fingers toward your body with the other hand.
- Then pull your hand downward and your fingers toward your body.
- Repeat with the other arm.
- To stretch your shoulders, you can cross one arm over your body and pull it gently toward you with your other arm.
Bonus: This stretch will help loosen up your shoulders, which is where many people hold tension.
Ensuring that you do cardiovascular exercise while working at a desk is more difficult than stretching because it requires a conscious effort to leave the desk.
- One good way to get yourself up and moving is to have walking meetings instead of sitting in a conference room.
- Instead of ordering lunch in, walk to a nearby restaurant and talk business with your co-workers on the way.
- Going to personally talk with a co-worker you need to speak with instead of emailing them is also a good way to get up and moving at work.
Strength training at your desk consists mostly of isometric exercises, or workouts where you hold a position for a certain amount of time. A good isometric exercise is the bicep curl.
- Adjust your chair so it is close to the desk.
- Press your hands against the bottom of the desk so your elbow is at a 90 degree angle, then push against the desk and hold for 6–10 seconds.
- Repeat six times.
To work on leg strength, do leg raises at your desk. They can be done inconspicuously by sitting up straight in your chair (as you should always be), extending your legs until they are straight, and holding for 5–10 seconds. Do this exercise for about 15 reps.
Bonus: For an added challenge, strap a purse or briefcase around your foot to add some weight!
Overall, these workouts will be able to help keep you moving and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for hours at a time is bad for posture and can lead to back pain, leg cramps and tense muscles. It is important to get up every once in a while and get moving.
Remember that, even if you exercise every day after work, the amount of time sitting at work should be broken up.