Did you know that staying seated – and immobile – for extended periods of time can be bad for your health?
Who’d have thought?
But, seriously. More and more studies have come out linking desk jobs to tons of health problems: chronic fatigue, bad posture, high blood pressure, obesity, and depression – just to name a few. Office workers don’t get to move around as much as they’d like (or as much as they should) because they’re stuck in their chairs and can’t be away from their desks for more than five minutes.
Thankfully, as more people become aware of this health hazard, sudden bursts of activity in the workplace are no longer frowned upon. So if you’re stuck in a chair, don’t worry. There are plenty of workouts you can do to get the sweat flowing and the blood pumping.
The Cardio-ish Warm-up: Arm Circles
This classic workout is perhaps the easiest arm exercise ever. The chances of getting the form wrong are minimal to none, even for beginners. Reps can be easily adjusted for fitness level, too.
Step 1: Make sure your back is straight, your feet are planted flat on the floor, and your legs are bent at the knees, 90 degrees.
Step 2: Bend your arms to touch your shoulders with your fingers; right hand to right shoulder, left hand to left shoulder.
Step 3: Without moving any other part of your body, roll your arms backward in a continuous circular motion. Make sure your fingers stay touching their respective shoulders. You can move both arms at once, in sync, or you can move one after the other.
- Beginners: 40 dynamic arm circles
- Intermediate: 70 dynamic arm circles
- Advanced: 100 dynamic arm circles
The Weighted Workout: Triceps Dip
This move requires a bit of leg room, but it’s great for building upper-body strength. Bonus: it doesn’t look nearly as silly as the Arm Circles.
Step 1: Place your hands on the edge of the chair, shoulder-width apart. Make sure your fingers are forward, not backward.
Step 2: Slide your bottom off the chair until it’s suspended an inch in front of the seat edge. Keep your arms straight, your feet firmly planted on the floor, your knees bent at 90 degrees. Most of your weight should be supported by your arms; your legs are there for balance.
Step 3: Keeping your back straight and close to the chair, slowly bend at the elbows to “dip” yourself as low as you can manage. Then, return to the starting position.
- Beginners: Repeat 20 times
- Intermediate: Repeat 35 times
- Advanced: Repeat 50 times
The Core Workout: Chair Plank
This workout is a great two-for-one. It strengthens your arms and your core. It’s like a regular floor plank, only angled. It also requires you to stand up for a bit.
Step 1: Get off your chair. Place your forearms on the seat of the chair with your hands touching each other.
Step 2: Extend your legs until straight. If you’re balancing on just your toes and your forearms, you’re in the correct position. Make sure your body is in a straight line from head to toe. Butt should not poke up or sag down, knees should not be bent, and do not let your shoulders touch your ears.
Step 3: This is important: contract your abdominal muscles! That’s how you’ll get your core working.
- Beginners: Hold for 30 seconds
- Intermediate: Hold for 45 seconds
- Advanced: Hold for 1 minute
Other things you can do to get moving despite having a desk job? Break up your errands. Instead of using the restroom, refilling your water bottle, and copying those Very Important Documents all in one go, space them apart. Go to the restroom first, then go back to your desk. Sit down, do some work for maybe five, ten minutes, then get back and refill your water bottle.
Back to the desk, stretch a little before sitting back down, and take care of emails for the next fifteen minutes or so. And then get up and head on over to the copy machine.
Fact is, there are plenty of ways to stay loose and limber when you’re stuck in an office cubicle. You just need to get a little creative.
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