If you have a typical office job, you’d know that it’s difficult to set aside time to exercise. Between actually sitting at a desk, weaving through traffic, eating dinner and then finally relaxing in front of the TV, the majority of the day is spent in a seated position.
Keeping all of that in mind, a sedentary lifestyle does not bode well for long-term living, and it causes a variety of health-related issues. So, how can you go about your day and still get the necessary movement in?
Luckily, you are not the only one and it’s not difficult to get your muscles moving while at or around your desk. Since this is where you spend most of your time, it’s best that you use the area to its fullest potential. While waiting on a client’s response, or sign-off from your boss, there are a number of different exercises you can do.
Extended periods of sitting are not healthy for your heart or body. Stand whenever possible. Standing provides health benefits like decreasing weight gain, the risk for heart diseases and type 2 diabetes, and it lessens lower back pain. It boosts your mood and, in small ways, works your muscles.
The obvious workaround is to invest in a converter desk, which allows you to stand while working. However, spending additional money on furniture like this is not actually necessary.
Standing glute squeezes are a nice way for you to stimulate your leg muscles and get a bit of a workout in. Simply stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, your toes pointing outward, and squeeze your glutes for a while before releasing. Alternatively, calf raises is also a good way to get you moving. While standing on the spot, raise yourself up on the balls of your feet for a few seconds before releasing.
If you have the room for it, knee raises on the spot could raise your heart rate and give you energy, and also help you burn calories. Simply jog on the spot while raising your knees to be parallel with your hips. The same can be said for running or stepping in place, while seated at your desk.
When you stretch, it relieves muscles that are shortened and tight. This improves the muscles’ flexibility and strength and optimises range of motion around the joints. When sitting at a desk all day, your active muscles get stretched and stimulated to an extent.
On the flip side, muscles like hamstrings at the back of the thigh can tighten. In extreme cases, this can lead to some difficulty walking, since it would be more strenuous to try and straighten the leg completely. This is easily avoidable with some simple movements. Stand up and walk around for a few minutes at least every hour.
Exercises like arm circles, tricep stretches and bicep stretches will activate the muscles in your arms, while calf stretches and toe-touches stretch your legs. For a deeper stretch, chest twists and side trunks are good for loosening your torso and relieve some back pain as well as stretch out your obliques – side torso muscles that hardly get used when sitting down.
Don’t neglect to stretch out your hands. Constant motion on the computer opens them up to the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Simple movements like wrist rotations and finger flexes every now and then can allow for better blood flow and prevent any issues from incurring.
While stretching, try to keep your breath even and steady. This will aid blood circulation and stabilise blood pressure, as well as lower the heart rate. It will also reduce any anxiety you might have been feeling and is a good way to relax while at work.
While devices like treadmill desks – desks that allow you to walk while you are working – are always an option, they are way too pricey for the average desk-worker.
Instead, opt for taking a walk every now and then. Try to take a walk around the office every hour or so, or walk to a colleague’s desk to take a short break from your work. You can also choose to take the stairs when working on a floor other than the ground floor.
Walking brings about immense improvement in overall health. It improves heart health, strengthens the bones, eliminates some excess body fat and boosts muscular performance. It is also proof that exercise does not need to be extremely intense and vigorous in order to be beneficial.