We all know that building a little extra physical activity into our daily lives is a great way to improve our overall health. But it is not always easy to fit exercise into your day when you spend most of it sitting at a desk at work.
Fortunately, there is no need to find an hour out of your day to hit the gym, or get up at the crack of dawn to go for a run. Small bursts of activity spread over the day can be just as beneficial as one larger exercise session, and they are much easier to fit around work and other commitments.
1. Use the stairs instead of the lift
If you work on an upper floor and aren’t locked out of exiting the stairs at your floor, you can easily fit some extra exercise into your day by opting to take the stairs instead of using the lift. To turn this into an intensive workout for your muscles, climb up the stairs two at a time. If you are locked out of exiting the stairs at your floor, you can try going down the stairs. Just remember to hold the handrail!
2. Stay active at work
Along the same lines, if you want to talk to a colleague, get up and walk down the corridor instead of dialling their extension or sending them an email. Do your own photocopying instead of handing it over to the office junior. Volunteer to make coffee for your office mates. Basically, look for any opportunity to get you away from your desk, and take advantage of this – within reason of course – you do not want it to look as if you are avoiding work!
3. Stand to work
Standing uses more muscles and burns more calories than sitting. Some offices offer their employees the option of working at a standing desk; if yours does not, you can suggest it. Otherwise, standing meetings can work well, or try standing up to take the call every time your phone rings.
4. Sit on an exercise ball
If a standing desk is not an option, consider switching out your office chair for an inflatable exercise ball. As you are constantly engaging your core muscles to stay balanced on the ball, you improve your posture and burn slightly more calories. You can also bounce up and down on the ball to get yourself moving.
5. Desk chair swivel
If you are stuck with a standard desk chair, you can use it to your advantage to work your abdominal muscles. Sit upright with your feet hovering a couple of inches off the floor and gripping the edges of the seat with your fingers and thumb. Use your core muscles to swivel the chair back and forwards.
6. Seated crunches
Standard crunches are a great workout for your abs, but if you do not work in the kind of office where you can get on the floor and do a set, try this alternative version. While seated on a chair, rest your elbows on your thighs and curl your chest in towards your legs, tensing your core muscles. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat.
7. Seated glute squeeze
Another exercise you can do while sitting in your desk chair, this time to work your isometric glutes. Simply squeeze your buttocks, hold for 5-10 seconds, and repeat. You can do this exercise at any time without anyone knowing what you are doing, and it is great for toning up your butt muscles.
8. Leg raises
As your legs are under the desk, nobody can see what you are doing with them. Make use of this discretion by lifting them so they are parallel with your desk, holding for a few seconds, and lowering again slowly. You can hang your handbag or briefcase over your ankles to add extra weight and make this exercise more effective.
9. Bicep curls
A full water bottle can make an effective substitution for free weights, and you can do bicep curls seated or standing. Just hold the bottle in one hand with your palm facing upwards, and curl your arm up towards your chest. Hold for a moment, lower slowly back down, and repeat.
10. Calf raises
This one is a perfect exercise to do when you are standing around waiting for the photocopier to finish copying a large document, or you are on hold to a supplier. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and rise up onto your tiptoes. Hold for a moment before lowering back down and repeating. You should feel this working your calf muscles, and you can also alternate legs for slightly higher intensity.
11. Wall push-ups
You can do this exercise while you are standing in the hallway waiting for a meeting to start, or even in the toilet cubicle. Stand at just less than arm’s-length from the wall and place your palms on its surface. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart with your arms parallel to the floor. Bend your elbows to bring your body towards the wall, hold for a couple of seconds, and push back to your starting position. Repeat 12 – 15 times.
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