The average American spends 7.5 hours at work each day. And for most people, those 7.5 hours equal a lot of sitting with very little moving. But incorporating movement and keeping active during your workday is very important, says Kara Smith, special programs coordinator for the Loyola Center for Fitness. “Taking a break from work for even a few minutes can help you feel better and increase your energy level.”
Exercise can help prevent aches and pains in the back, relieve tight muscles, fight fatigue, and burn calories. Plan short walks into your day: If you drink a lot of water (a healthy goal on its own), you’ll have to get up several times throughout the day to walk to the restroom. Use your lunch break for a quick walk around the building or around the block. Send documents to the printer farthest from your desk so you add a few extra steps.
Then add in a few exercises at your desk. “If co-workers give you a strange look, ask them to join you!” Smith suggests.
Here, a mini workout with five exercises from some of the nation’s top fitness experts that you can do at your desk. No special equipment needed.
- Twists. This move helps release tense muscles in your back. With your feet firmly planted on the ground and legs engaged (slightly bent at the knee), stretch both arms out to the side so you are in the shape of a “T.” Reach your left arm back. Bring your right hand to your heart, and gently twist your torso to the left. Repeat this twist on the opposite side. Twist back and forth for 3 minutes. [from Sarah Brave of Reflections Yoga in Times Square]
- Scapular retraction. Stand upright and clasp your hands behind your head. Pull your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds and then relax. Repeat for 10 reps. [from Adam Bornstein, editorial director at Livestrong.com and co-author of the fitness bestseller The IMPACT! Body Plan and The Men’s Health Diet.]
- Seated squat. Slowly sit down towards your chair, then stand up quickly, just before making contact with the chair. Repeat for 5 reps. [From Leah Britt, certified personal trainer/nutritionist of Premier Fitness camp]
- Bench dips. Using your chair or a sturdy table, place your hands on the edge of the chair (or table) and bend your arms to slowly lower yourself about six inches lower than the seat. Raise yourself by straightening your arms. Repeat for 10 reps. [From Leah Britt, certified personal trainer/nutritionist of Premier Fitness camp]
- Dumbbell curls. While you’re on the phone or making a conference call, you can grab a dumbbell or a resistance band and do bicep curls. (A full bottle of water will work in a pinch.) Straighten your arms by your side and bring your hand (with the dumbbell) to your shoulder. Keep your palms up. Repeat for 20 reps. [Leah Britt]
- Bonus stretch. Release neck tension by sitting tall in your chair. Release your right shoulder down. “You can even sit on your right hand,” says Smith. Tilt your head so your left ear is going towards your left shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds, and then switch sides. Repeat three times on each side. [Kara Smith]