Estimated reading time: 5 mins
As the world of work continues to evolve, it’s becoming increasingly important for us to look after our physical and mental well-being. Unfortunately, with longer hours, more meetings and an ever-present ‘to do list’, it seems that there’s little time to spare for exercise. But don’t despair; there are a number of exercises you can easily do at your desk or work station – no gym membership required! Here I share 10 exercises you can do at your desk to help keep you fit and healthy.
1. Seated twists
This simple but effective exercise involves sitting up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor (or crossed if you prefer). Then take a deep breath in, twist your upper body towards the left side as far as feels comfortable and allow yourself to exhale slowly. Repeat this movement on the other side so that both sides of your torso get an even stretch. This is great for loosening tightness across the chest area from slouching over a computer all day!
2. Chair squats
To perform this exercise start by standing up straight in front of your chair with feet about shoulder width apart. Then lower yourself down into a squat position until you reach the seat of the chair then stand back up again taking care not to use momentum or bounce off the seat. Do 8 – 10 reps depending on how much energy you have! This is great for building leg strength and toning those glutes!
3. Wall push ups
For anyone who has trouble getting out of their chair during commercial breaks wall push ups are perfect! All you need is some space against a wall; begin by standing about arms length away from it with hands placed firmly against it at chest height then simply press against the wall using just enough force to move yourself away from it – make sure not to lock out elbows completely when pushing off as this could cause injury over time! Do 8 – 10 reps for best results – try adding variations such as changing hand placements every few reps or closing eyes when pushing off for extra challenge (if safe to do so).
4. Chair tricep dips
Start by facing away from your chair and placing hands either side of its edge palms down (fingers pointing towards back). Then slide bottom off seat slightly so legs are bent at 90 degrees while keeping feet flat on ground, allowing elbows to bend inwards until shoulders dip below level of seat (avoid locking out elbows too much here!). Push back up using triceps until arms are straight again before repeating process 8 – 10 times depending on strength levels; these will help tone those pesky bingo wings while working core stability muscles too!
5. Standing calf raises
Start by standing behind your chair with feet hip width apart then lift heels off the floor as high as possible. Then lower them down again, taking care not to lock ankles when lifting/lowering heels. This should be done in one smooth motion without bouncing off floor (for best results). Aim for 8 – 10 reps per set, focusing on control throughout each rep rather than speed. These are great for strengthening calves which will help improve overall posture too!
6. Desk lunges
To perform this exercise start by standing just outside arm’s reach from the desk edge. Then step forward into lunge position, making sure the front knee does not pass your toes when bending downwards. Then push back up through your heel and stepping back into starting position. Repeat process, alternating legs each time, aiming for 8 – 10 reps per set depending on energy levels. These will help tone quads while toning core stabiliser muscles too.
7. Seated oblique crunches
Begin seated upright in a chair facing forwards. Lean your torso slightly towards on the left side, taking care not to arch your spine (try tucking tailbone under) then crunch upwards towards the right shoulder using abdominal muscles. Then releasing downwards slowly into starting position. Repeat this process on the other side aiming for 8 – 10 per set depending on your fitness level. These will help strengthen obliques, which will help improve overall posture and reduce any aches/pains caused by slouching over a computer all day long.
8. Desk bike crunches
This exercise requires good balance so take caution if needed; start seated upright in a chair facing forwards with legs bent, so knees point upwards like a cyclist would ride his/her bike pedals, then rotate your upper body towards the left, whilst pedalling right leg backwards, followed by rotating right whilst pedalling left leg backwards. Aim for 20 rotations in total, alternating sides each time, while maintaining good form throughout the entire crunching motion. These will help tone core stabilisers whilst providing cardio benefits too, making them excellent all round exercises.
9. Desk mountain climbers
Begin seated upright in a chair facing forwards with hands placed firmly on either side of a desk edge, palms down, fingers pointing back. Then pull one knee up towards your chest followed quickly by the opposite elbow tapping onto top of desk surface, before switching sides rapidly. Aim for 20 pulls in total, alternating sides each time, whilst maintaining good form throughout the entire range of motion (try tucking tailbone under). These are fantastic full body exercises helping to build stamina whilst providing cardio benefits too, making them ideal all rounders.
10. Chair yoga poses
Finally why not bring some zen vibes into workplace environment? Start seated upright cross legged in centre of chair if possible or alternatively sit sideways onto edge if preferred then take few moments deep breathing before beginning poses such as cat/cow stretches, where torso is arched forward like stretching cat. Follow immediately afterwards by arching backwards like stretching cow pose. Make sure your spine remains neutral throughout entire range of motion, holding each pose around 5 breaths duration. Move onto next pose, such as eagle arms, which involves wrapping one arm underneath the other, interlocking respective forearms together above your head. Reaching up skyward and try best to keep shoulders relaxed during the hold period. Breathe deeply whilst doing so. Not only do these types of poses provide excellent stress relief, they also help improve flexibility and joint mobility. Enabling us to tackle stressful situations better whilst still feeling energised, once we have finished the session!
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