With the advent of the standing desk, posture pro tips, and even a new study that suggests sitting is the new smoking, there’s a plethora of information that confirms spending hours upon hours in a chair is a big no-no for health reasons (we even touched on a few points ourselves in a Be Well post of yore). But if you’re reading this from behind your desk, you know the dilemma. As a full-time working professional, sitting is quite literally part of the job.
So, what do you do to make sure your desk isn’t negatively affecting your health? To start, we suggest trying the nine exercises below, which can all 100 percent be done at—or around—your desk. Together, they will work the muscles that suffer most during your 8-hour work day.
Set your out of office for a few minutes and start sweating (but like, not too much).
The Warm Up
Shoulder Shrugs + Circles: Lift your shoulders up towards your ears in an exaggerated motion, and release. Do this 10 times before moving on to making shoulder circles—first clockwise, then counterclockwise, for the same amount of repetitions. Starting your workout in this way will help loosen your shoulder muscles and get your body ready for some movement. You can come back to this at any point in the day when you’re feeling a little tight up top.
The Easy Essentials
Desk Push-Ups: Place both hands on the desk, shoulder width apart. Your legs should be extended behind you about a yard away with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Essentially, you’ll be in regular push-up position but with a desk in the way. Bend your arms and sink your upper body so that your chin nearly touches the edge of the desk, and then push up. Repeat 20 times, take a short break, and go for one more round.
Jump Squats: Again, starting with your feet shoulder width apart you’ll perform a standard squat, making sure your glutes are parallel with the floor as you slowly dip down. Hold your core tight as you go from the squatting position up to an explosive jump—lifting your arms above your head as you do—and then finish in the pre-squat position: knees slightly bent, glutes parallel to the floor, arms outstretched behind you or in a prayer position in front of you. To start, try two sets with at least 10 jump squats a piece—you can always add more depending on your workout goals (or how many more minutes you have before your lunch burns in the microwave).
Chair Dips: Sit at the edge of your chair with your arms by each side and open your palms, using them to cup the edge of the chair seat. Start by sliding your butt off of the chair and in front of you, and then slowly lower your body—paying close attention to engaging your core and glutes—for two to three counts as you bend your elbows. Repeat this exercise at least 10 times and at for at least two sets, and you should feel the burn. (Please note: this exercise should not be performed on a swivel chair.)
The Lunch Break Training Programs
Turn your half-hour lunch break into a total body chair workout. Fitness Blender demonstrates a low impact 33-minute exercise routine that focuses on stretching the lower back and hip flexors—which is where a lot of desk-associated back pain is held.
If you’re looking for something shorter, barre3 founder Sadie Lincoln has a five-minute fitness routine for you. Start with the standing sumo squat (with your feet spread a little wider than the hips) and end with a seated stretch to open your chest and shoulders. This sequence acts to wake up your seat muscles—aka your hip flexors, butt and glutes—and alleviate tension.
If bad posture is your main concern, take a time off for these four key stretches that promise to reserve the “desk hunch,” an accidental slump we’re all guilty of.
Try these four quick and simple desk exercises for a convenient way to increase energy and incorporate full body stretching into your work day. Whether you have five minutes or 30 seconds to spare, these microburst moves, designed specifically for the Independence Blue Cross fitness center, are proven to help ward off afternoon sluggishness, improve mood and cut down on food cravings.
The Cool Downs
Walking: Hopefully, your desk jaunt has elevated your heart rate. If so, take at least 45 seconds to walk in place… or to the water cooler. It’s always important to end cap every exercise with a little cool down. Now, get back to work.
Get more information on how Independence Blue Cross can be a part of your plan for health and wellness.