Desk exercises probably aren’t the first thing you think about when sitting down to your computer. However, all that sitting isn’t exactly good for you. In fact, it’s actually dangerous. But, getting healthy while sitting isn’t all that hard with the right exercises.
Getting Injured at Work
You might think paper cuts or even boredom are the worst threats of an office job, but if you sit most of the day, you could be facing much worse. According to WebMD, musculoskeletal problems are the most common office injuries. These include carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle strains (neck, back, and shoulders), bursitis, and tendon injuries. In 2014 alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 32% of work injuries were musculoskeletal issues.
- Curved spine
- Bent neck or text neck
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Potential increased risk of cancer
- Weakened pelvic muscles, leading to weakened bladder and bowels
- Gaining weight
- Increased risk of depression and anxiety
Another thing to keep in mind is that activity helps improve brain function. So, while you’re sitting at a computer, trying to be productive, you’re brain is actually begging for some action. Just check out all the benefits with the infographic Your Brain On Exercise.
Of course, staying on your feet all day isn’t good for your either, so don’t quit your office job for a standing or walking position.
Related Read: Office Ergonomics: Better Gadgets, Better Health
Staying Active at the Office
Ideally, you should be able to be active at the office. Even in standing/walking jobs, sitting breaks are necessary to avoid damage to legs and feet. The key is to have a good balance for optimal health and brain function.
A few things you can do to stay active at the office include:
- Taking frequent breaks – stand up at least once an hour
- Stand and stretch whenever possible
- Take the stairs versus the elevator
- Get up and walk to a co-worker instead of sending an email
- Do desk exercises several times a day
It’s also important to note that having an ergonomic work space is vital to your health. If possible, use an adjustable office chair that supports proper posture. Use an ergonomic keyboard/mouse combo. Ensure your monitor sits at a level that doesn’t require you to arch your neck.
Finally, sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor. The simple act of hunching over causes severe damage to your back and neck over time.
Simple Desk Exercises
Desk exercises might sound like they wouldn’t be very effective, but even the simplest exercises keep your body active. The idea is to prevent yourself from sitting hunched over a keyboard, staring at a screen, and barely moving all day.
Some incredibly simple, yet effective desk exercises to try include:
- Pelvis Rock – sit up straight and rock your pelvis forward and back – this relieves tension in your back, legs, and hips
- Buddha Stretch – place your hands in a prayer position in front of you and lower your hands (palms still together) into a comfortable stretch for your wrists – this relieves wrist tension
- Toe Taps – gently tap the tips of your toes against the floor in any rhythm you want – keeps legs and feet active
- Desk Cycle – raise your feet slightly off the floor and mimic the motion of riding a bike – improves blood flow in your legs – raise legs higher to get your hips in on the action
- Glute Squeeze – squeeze your glutes (a.k.a. butt) as tight as you can for up to 10 seconds – eases strain on your glutes and strengthens those muscles
- Leg Lifts – while sitting, raise one or both legs straight out in front of you and hold for at least five seconds (work up to longer times) – tighten your core while lifting and/or use ankle weights for an even stronger exercise
- Desk Squat – move your chair out of the way and do a few simple squats – works legs, back, and glutes
- Fist Pump – pump your fists in the air in a mock punch for a minute or more – loosens up arms and tones at the same time
- Shoulder Pencil Pinch – sit up straight and roll the shoulders back until the shoulder blades pinch together, much like you’d be holding a pencil between them – stretches chest and shoulders
- Rubber Neck – sit tall and lower your right ear towards your right shoulder and hold for up to five seconds, repeat on the left side – stretches neck muscles
- Seated Soldier – sit straight and point your right arm towards the ceiling while raising your left leg out in front of you, lower both together and repeat with your left arm and right leg – stretches and strengthens leg muscles and core
- Seated Reach – reach your right arm over your head and lean as far as you can to the left, repeat with your left arm – stretches your back and arms
- Knee Hugger – keep your knee bent and lift your right leg until you’re able to pull it to your chest with your arms, hold for 10 seconds and then repeat with the left leg – stretches back and arms
Related Read: How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Healthy Living Device
Advanced Desk Exercises
If you have a private office or your co-workers don’t mind, you can get a little more active with your desk exercises. These are more traditional exercises that don’t take much space, such as:
- Jog at your desk for 45 seconds several times a day
- Pretend to jump rope for a minute or two
- Lift something heavy, such as a ream of paper or a briefcase
- Lunge your way across your office (think of a proposal position)
- Do push-ups against your desk or wall (make sure the wall is sturdy enough, no cubicles)
Desk Exercise Routines
Desk exercises don’t have to be difficult. If you’re looking for a quick routine or want to see some desk exercises in action, watch these YouTube videos for inspiration:
- Easy 10-Minute Workout You Can Do At Your Desk
- 7 Office Stretching Exercises To Get Energized At Work!
- Desk Exercises To Do At The Office
- Exercise At Your Desk
- Chair Yoga
- The 5 Minute Desk Workout
No matter what desk exercises you try, just do something to stay active, even at work.
Related Read: Mind, Body, Soul, Smartphone: 7 Yoga Apps to Try
Contribution by Crystal Crowder
About the Author
Crystal lives and breathes tech. She’s spent over a decade writing tutorials, reviews, and more on tech, business, and lifestyle sites. Her idea of fun is settling down with the latest tech and gadget news.