Everyone wants to be healthy, but not everyone has the time to get to the gym every day or even every week. If you find yourself yearning to break a sweat and increase your heart rate, but are often trapped behind a desk, these simple exercises will help you to incorporate a workout into your workday. Exercising regularly increases concentration and motivation, too, so there’s no need to feel guilty about working out on company time.
It is possible to sit around and exercise. A surprising number of exercises can be performed without actually leaving your office chair. It’s possible to exercise almost any part of your body while sitting or to even use your chair as a piece of equipment. Here are a few exercises to get you started:
Wrist and Forearm Stretches
If you spend your days writing or typing, it’s likely that your wrists and forearms become tense and strained throughout the day. While we tend not to think about working out our wrists or hands at the gym, stretching them for a minute or two each day can substantially improve your comfort at work. Start by centering your hands in front of your chest, with your elbows out at your sides. Use your wrists to rotate your hands around each other in slowly widening circles for 30 seconds, then reverse direction. Next, extend your forearm in front of you, palm up, and use your other hand to bend the fingers down and back toward you until you feel a stretch.
Lower Back Stretch
Sit up straight and place your left arm behind your hip. Twist your upper body to the left, and extend your right arm to maximize the stretch. Repeat on the right side.
Place your palms on the edge of your seat. Cross your ankles and rest your heel on the ground. Your rear end should hover in the air a few inches in front of your chair. Using the strength in your back and arms, lower your body until your elbows form a 90 degree angle and then raise yourself upward again. (Caution: Do not attempt this exercise in an unstable or wheeled chair.)
An exercise ball is an amazingly cheap and versatile piece of equipment that you can use to work out without interrupting your workday. Sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair will strengthen your back and abs, while encouraging you to work on your posture and balance. If an exercise ball is too unsightly for your office, Sissel offers ergonomic air-filled cushions designed to yield the same effects.
An exercise ball can also be used for a host of balancing, stretching and strengthening exercises that primarily target the back and abs. For starters, try “ball crunches” or “ball sit-ups.” Place your feet flat on the ground and your back on the ball. Then, perform crunches or sit-ups as you would normally. You should immediately notice that you are engaging a wider group of muscles to perform the exercises. But be careful to clear a small space around the ball before starting — balance can be a real challenge!
Developing a Routine
If you try out a few of these exercises, you will likely find yourself doing them without even realizing it during tense moments when you need a break from work. Rather than allowing the exercises to become nervous habits, it helps if you develop a short routine that you can use to clear your mind, refresh your body and refocus yourself on work. Experiment with the above exercises, and keep in mind that you probably know a host of other exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own office (for example, push-ups and sit-ups). You can even use a water bottle to add weight to some exercises, or keep a few resistance bands in your desk drawer. Taking five or 10 minutes to exercise will not take much time away from your work, but it will energize and focus you to power through to the end of that overtime shift.
About the Author: Brian Martinowich is a freelance writer with EarnMBADegree.com, a comprehensive resource guide for online MBA programs. As the Community Manager of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive, Brian enjoys helping others through his experiences and expertise with social media.