Office spaces are set up to require little movement, making it easy to gain weight. But besides increasing weight, desk jobs also increase the strain on your back, wrists, eyes and neck, and can result in a general loss of muscle tone. As you log hour after idle hour glued to your seats, you are putting your health at extreme risk. To combat the adverse effects of the 9-to-5 routine, it’s important to exercise. But again, a 9-to-5 routine often leaves you with little time to get the much-needed workout.
That’s where deskercise comes in. Suraj Khadka, fitness trainer at Goodlife Fitness in Maitidevi, Kathmandu says that while these deskercises, or desk exercises for the cubicle-bound, won’t get you six-pack abs or a toned figure, they might just improve strength and burn a few extra calories to boot. An office workout can vary widely in type and intensity – from swapping your desk chair out for a stability ball to going for a run during your lunch break. But as highly as Khadka recommends those he also briefs us on some simple exercises that we can carry out conspicuously at work.
Just think of the toe tapping that football players do during their training sessions and try doing it while being seated on your desk. For this, keep your back straight and continuously tap your toes. You can choose to gradually increase your speed after a few minutes of idle toe tapping. This simple exercise can also be a great cardio workout if you focus on continuously moving your legs at a good speed. If possible, keep your arms at the sides of your chair and work those legs every chance you get.
One legged squat
This might sound a little surprising, but yes squats can also be performed while being glued to your seat. Simply, straighten your back while maintaining your sitting position. Then plant your feet firmly on the floor. Slowly raise your right leg and move it forward to bring it in level with your chair. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Then, bring your right leg back and repeat the exercise with your left leg. Do this ten times for each leg. If you can’t bring yourself to straighten your leg at office, then you can just raise your knees and take it up as far as you can and keep it bent for a few seconds before changing sides. These moves will contribute to strengthening your thighs and abs.
Reach for the stars
This exercise not just helps in stretching those muscles but is highly suggested for muscle relaxation as well. And it really couldn’t get any simpler than this. Simply interlace your fingers and reach upwards towards the ceiling and go as high as you can, keeping your palms open. While doing this exercise, remember to keep your back straight and take long inhalations and exhalations. However, when you raise your hands, hold your breath and position for a few seconds. You may also bend towards your left and right while doing so. Try doing it five to eight times per session but don’t go overboard.
With chair swivels, you can always take a few minutes of break and have some fun at your workplace. Simply take a revolving chair and maintain enough distance between your chair and the desk so that you can move without hitting the table. Then hold the edge of your desk with your fingers and let your legs hover over the floor. Now use your core muscles to swivel the chair from left to right and vice versa for around 15 times each. This move is a really great core strengthening exercise.
Reach and bend
As its name suggests, all you need to do here is reach above and then bend down. Sit up tall and extend one of your arms all the way up towards the ceiling. Then straighten your other arm and try touching your foot maintaining your previous posture. Bring your hands down and repeat this again changing the position of your arms. Khadka suggests doing this eight to ten times alternating the sides.
For a flatter stomach and better abs, try doing abdominal crunches at your desk. You might scoff at the idea but hear us out. It’s really simply and nobody will even know you are actually working out while sitting. Simply sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor. Then slowly contract your abdominal muscles as if you are doing regular floor crunches. Hold the contraction for at least ten seconds. Let go and repeat. As you keep practicing this, you should be able to hold the contraction for longer and do more repetitions.
This one will stretch your glutes. Gently press your left knee with your right ankle while sitting on the chair. Hold this position for a few seconds. Then press your right knee with the left ankle and keep alternating the sides till you feel you have had a good stretch.
Sit up straight and drop your chin down towards your chest. Bring it back and gently roll your head from side to side. Then again bring your ears down and try touching your shoulders turn by turn. When you ears touch your shoulders, hold the position for a few seconds. Repeat the moves at least ten times. This will help reduce the neck and shoulder stiffness you feel after spending long hours at the desk.