In the digital age, chances are most of us are desk-bound at our workstation and get too little movement during the workday. Fitting time to go to the gym in between work and home life could be strenuous with a 9-to-5 routine, but exercise doesn’t always require a gym membership and changing into shorts and sneakers. To combat the adverse effects desk jobs have on our weight, back, wrists, eyes, neck, and muscles, and to make the most out of the workplace, these six discreet exercises will keep us active and in shape in between our work deadlines.
1. Stretch Your Neck
Sitting in front of the computer screen and frequently moving your neck up and down could cause you to have to an uncomfortable neck strain. To prevent a neck sprain, Vivian Eisenstadt, owner and physical therapist at Vivie Therapy in Los Angeles, Calif., told Medical Daily in an email that deskbound workers can follow a simple exercise: While sitting at your desk, “grab under the chair with one hand with your shoulder behind [your] midline. Reach over your head with the other hand and grab the opposite ear. Lean towards the arm that is over your head and stretch your neck.” This stretch can help prevent or reduce stiffness and pain after sitting at your desk all day.
2. Thigh Strengthener
Cramped hamstrings could become a catalyst for lower back pain. You can comfortably stretch them, however, from the comfort of your office, along with your thigh muscles. “Sitting tall, back off of the back of the chair, engage the abs in and up and straighten one leg forward, thigh muscles gripping the bones. Hold for a 10 count and slowly release,”Drew Vanover, a Tae Kwon Do master, registered yoga teacher, and blogger, shared with Medical Daily in an email. For a good core workout, stabilize the pelvis with the abs and lift both legs and hold. To build more strength, you can do the two-legged version using your arms to help hold the body.
3. “Run” in Place
Sitting or standing too much can lead to leg and calf pain and have a significant toll on your health. Luckily, you can offset the effects of sitting too much by simply “running” in place from your work desk. In several intervals of 45 seconds of work, followed by 15 seconds of rest, while seated, you can lift your feet up and down as though you were running, and pump your arms at the same time, says Derith Cass, a personal trainer at the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa in Houston, Texas, to Medical Daily, in an email. This will get your heart rate up and even help you burn some calories.
4. Seated Leg Raises
To ensure we keep our leg muscles active and toned even while sitting, all it takes is good posture and extending your leg straight out in front of you. “Squeeze thigh and lift leg up and down in a slow, controlled manner for 15-20 repetitions, then lift leg up and complete 15-20 quick pulses of very small movement and follow that with a 15-20 second hold at the top,” Cass said. This quick but strengthening exercise will allow desk workers to feel the burn as they repeat this on the other leg.