We've been told from a very young age that exercise and movement are key in maintaining a healthy body and mind. However, this often becomes increasingly difficult for adults in the professional sphere––particularly those with long hours spent at a desk.
I know firsthand the strain that sitting at my desk all day takes on my back and hips, and while I still do need to utilize my computer for the majority of my job, I've found that incorporating small changes (and exercises) on a regular basis at the office can make a dramatic difference in my physical comfort, as well as helping to place me in a better mood that allows me to handle work more efficiently.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate movement into your work day is simply to stand up. It may not seem like much, but just getting your butt out of the same seated position every 30 to 60 minutes helps to minimize physical pain and allows you to attend to specific problem areas that hold a lot of tension.
For me personally, quad stretches and neck and shoulder rolls are life-savers, and it's never a bad idea to take a lap around the building or outside. If you're someone who can get absorbed in work for hours without realizing it, set an alarm on your phone or download the Stand Up work break timer app. You are never too busy to take five minutes for some self-care.
In terms of more vigorous exercise, I'm fortunate in that I have a fairly relaxed dress code that allows me to wear clothing that is easy to move in and that won't give way to sweat stains. If that's not your case, don't dismay––the key is to do simple moves with high reps for maximum efficiency (and minimal wardrobe malfunctions). Here are some of my favorites:
- Tricep dips: Do these babies on the floor, against a desk, a low window sill or chair––as long as you have proper form, this is a great, versatile move that you can bust out whenever.
- Standing leg lifts: Front, back, side or all three, this move helps me open up my hips while strengthening tired glutes and quads from sitting all day. For an extra challenge, squat on your standing leg while doing your reps.
- Back-behinds: Extend your arms out left and right, then rotate them inward as you pull your elbows in behind your back. This is an excellent way to open up your chest and work your back muscles, which you definitely need to keep you from slumping over all day.
- Calf raises: Perhaps the most unobtrusive office workout move of all, simply stand, push up to tip-toe, and then come down again. For an extra challenge, don't let your heels touch the ground while descending––bonus points if you do it in heels.
- Seated bicycle: Many of you probably don't want to lay on your office floor, but you don't have to with this modification. Find a stable chair and lean back to your tipping point, extending your legs out in front of you. As you bring one knee in, reach toward it with the opposite elbow. A nice way to work your abs and quads at the same time.
No matter what you're wearing to work or what your job is, it's so important to make the time to take care of your body––just remember, a little goes a long way!