The problem with your office job isn’t your demanding boss or your lazy co-worker. No; what’s making you miserable actually has much more to do with what you aren’t doing during your day job: exercising.
People make all kinds of excuses about not having time to exercise, but it turns out they’re not even valid. There are tons of exercises you can do at the office, while you work, without having to leave your office or cubicle.
Here are five simple, yet effective exercises you can do while at or near your desk.
1. Incline push-ups
When you think of push-ups, you probably picture someone parallel to the floor, pushing up from the ground. Incline push-ups work in a similar way, but instead of doing the push-up parallel to the ground, you do them on an incline, pushing yourself away from the corner of a bed or desk.
Incline push-ups will still work the muscles in your chest and abdomen without putting so much stress on your elbows.
Place your hands on the edge of your chosen anchor object, just a little further apart than the width of your shoulders. Plant your feet and keep your body completely straight. Bend your elbows until your chest meets the edge of your object, then push yourself out again, and repeat. At first, do this 10-15 times, then slowly build your way up to being able to do more in each set.
Use your desk or something else sturdy to perform these exercises, not a chair that will roll away when you push on it. Here’s a visual demonstration of how to perform this exercise.
2. Chair squats
It’s not healthy to sit at your desk all day. Some companies are addressing this problem by switching to standing desks, but you can still compensate in the meantime, until your company catches onto the trend, by using your desk chair as a vehicle for an alternative form of a familiar exercise: squats.
Really all you have to do for this exercise, at least in the beginning, is perform the motion of sitting down in your chair and standing back up again. This mimics the motions of a “real” squat, because all a squat really involves is making a sitting motion to work your core and leg muscles.
This is a very convenient exercise to do when you’ve been sitting at your desk for a long time and need to stand up and do something else for a few minutes. You can also do it while you’re on the phone, if you’re careful.
3. Tricep desk or chair dips
Your triceps, the back of your arms, also need a good workout every once in awhile. You can give them some exercise either by using your chair or the edge of your desk, which makes this a perfect exercise to do on a short break, while you’re waiting for something to download or you’re listening to something.
Face away from the desk or desk chair you are going to use for this exercise, but place your hands behind you on the edge of it facing forward. “Sit” with your feet planted on the floor and your knees bent. You are going to bend your elbows only as you “dip” down closer to the floor and push yourself back up.
It’s sort of like a backwards push-up, which makes sense, because regular push-ups help strengthen the biceps, the muscles in the front of your arms. Watch how this guy does it for a better idea of how to position your body.
4. Sitting hip flexors
Strengthening your hip muscles is an easy exercise to do while sitting at your desk because you can complete the entire thing without getting up. This is the perfect exercise to perform no matter what you’re doing, because all you need to do is lift up one foot at a time off the floor.
While sitting at your desk, raise one foot off the ground several inches. Keep your knee bent at a 90-degree angle and hold your foot there for as long as you can before bringing it back down again. Repeat with the other foot as well to complete one repetition, and repeat this as many times as you are comfortable.
If you do enough repetitions of this motion, you will start to feel it in your hips. Again, this is good. It means you are moving them in ways you don’t normally do while sitting. Keep this up and your muscles will stay healthy and strong.
5. Wrist stretches
Arm, leg and core stretches are great, but don’t forget the toll working in an office can take on your wrists. You’re most likely sitting at a desk all day, typing and clicking away. Keep the muscles and tendons in your wrists strong and healthy by stretching them out every hour or so. It only takes a minute (literally).
Extend your arm out in front of you with your palm facing up. With your other hand, push your fingers on the hand of the extended arm downward to stretch out the muscles there. Repeat with the other arm extended. Do this a few times and you should be good to get back to work again.
You can also try gently rolling your wrists in a circle or flexing your fingers. What’s important is that you keep the muscles in your hands and wrists moving so that they’re not stuck in the same compromising position for too many hours at a time.
Most exercises are a lot less complicated and time-consuming than you think they are. Try out these desk and chair exercises to start you on a simple, yet effective workout regimen that doesn’t take “I’m too busy” as an excuse for not moving your body.
Breaking up your work day with some exercise here and there won’t change your boss or your co-workers, but it will keep you happier and healthier in the long run.