As I grow older, I become less afraid to step out of the box. It’s significant particularly when it comes to maintaining good health. Sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time, although the social norm, can wreak havoc on the body. Working out is imperative to tune the body’s muscle imbalances and condition cardiovascular health. Although it may appear tedious, making small conscious changes can drastically improve your health. Whether it’s being mindful of your eyes when staring at screens for long hours or taking time to adjust your posture with an ergonomic chair, your body will thank you for breaking the mold.
Check out these easy exercises you can try at the office:
Take the Stairs
Ditch the elevator and take the stairs. The moment I step off the train, without hesitation, I dodge all escalators and elevators, and head straight for the stairs. Taking the stairs can literally be the first step to creating a healthy consistent habit. Replace your usual stairmaster routine at the gym with actual steps to your office floor or apartment. Walking up steps engages calves, glutes, quads, abs, and arms so make sure to get those extra steps in to improve your core strength.
I’m an early bird so I like to do a couple dips before anyone gets in the office.
- Stand in front of a stationary chair or desk.
- Place both hands facing forward at the edge of the chair or desk.
- Step forward until your knees are at right angles
- Bend both elbows straight back lowering yourself and then straightening your arms avoiding locking your elbows.
- Repeat 20 times.
Dips are quick and easy. Adjust difficulty by bringing legs closer, further away, or perhaps even keeping one leg raised.
Breathing is underrated. How you breathe is a very strong indicator of stress levels and lifestyle habit. If you find yourself holding onto your breath during the middle of the day, this exercise is for you. Shaking can help release any tension in your body and help clear the mind. Take a bathroom break and shake your body for 60 seconds or more to get your heart pumping and bring a silly smile to your day.
As a yoga teacher, it’s hard for me to resist the urge to stretch every minute of the day at work. Luckily these chair stretches help me get through the day so I don’t feel so cramped up at my desk.
- With an inhale, bring both arms above your head.
- Stretch your fingers wide and exhale, float your arms down to your sides.
- Repeat connecting breath and movement 10 times.
- Shrug your shoulders up to your ears and hold for 10 seconds
- Let them drop and take deep breaths.
- Repeat 5 times.
Arm circles, elbow circles, wrist twirls, ankle twirls, and head circles are all small exercises I like to do every day at work. However I like to incorporate larger upper body stretches to tap into my lungs.
- Hold onto the left side of your chair with your left hand.
- Create a crescent shape with your right arm above you toward the left corner of the ceiling.
- Look up at your fingertips, stretching the right side of your body.
- Actively push the chair away with your left hand to open up the left shoulder.
- Breathe and be mindful that your shoulders don’t crouch around your ears but create space for a nice long neck.
- Next bring your right arm back to the right side.
- Drop right ear to right shoulder and stretch out the left trap.
- Repeat on other side.
Before leg lifts, I recommend isometric holds which are just contractions of muscles that I use to help get the right core muscles engaged before exercise.
- Have both feet on the floor and place both hands on your stomach.
- Engage your abdominals by tightening your muscles as if preparing to take a punch.
- Push your fingers and palms into your abdominals and resist with the contraction of your abs.
Now that your abs are turned on, reset and keep legs hip width distance apart. Sit up tall and start with your legs bent 90 degrees on the floor.
- Lift your right leg up to hip height.
- Bring back down to meet left foot.
- Lift left leg up to hip height.
- Lower back to the floor
- Repeat alternate leg lifts for 5 minutes.
You’ll be surprised how tiny yet mighty these exercises can improve your day and mood. A simple awareness to the body’s needs to movement can help wake the muscles and get you moving through your day. Being mindful of your body during the workday can help not only your health, but also performance at work. These exercises are not meant to replace regular physical activity, but a light introduction to taking better care of your body.
Christin Lee is a yoga instructor, entrepreneur, and lifestyle blogger living in NYC. She currently writes for InsiderEnvy with an emphasis and focus on fitness, health, and universal human rights.