You may have heard the saying that sitting is the new smoking, which is often credited to Dr. Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Los Angeles. In the workplace, we spend our lives tied to our black, swivel chairs entering data into excel spreadsheets and sending out messages to coworkers via slack. Recent research suggests that just the 10 to 30 minutes of cardio everyday after work may not undo the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
So what are we to do when the relationship we have with our desk chair is stronger than our last relationship? Luckily, short periods of aerobics, strength exercises, and stretching in between conference calls and meetings can help improve fitness levels and heart health. While these deskercises, or desk exercises for those that are confined to their cubicles, won’t promise washboard abs or better mile times, they might just improve strength and burn a few extra calories. No matter what you have on your to-do list, we’ve got some deskercises for a potentially healthier, happier, and more productive workday.
1. The OG Stairmaster:
Avoid elevator small talk and soft smiles by taking the stairs in your building. Increase your speed on every other flight of stairs or skip every other step for a slow, steady burn.
2. Jog In Place:
That’s right, I said it – we all know this move from Elementary Physical Education, but this is a great way to increase your heart rate throughout your workday. If you want to make it harder on yourself, pick up your knees!
3. Office Explorer:
Walking in your building is totally underrated. Take a stroll down the hall to catch up with coworkers or get to know your boss a little more. Or, instead of sending three-worded slack messages to your boss that’s two doors down, put in some face time, they will love to see it!
4. Bop To The Top:
There’s nothing wrong with putting your favorite song on and taking a dance break. If you’re a bit embarrassed about this, keep it to a desk jig.
5. Wall Sits:
Wall sits are great for building strength and endurance. Standing with your back against the wall, bend the knees and slide your back down the wall until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Sit and hold for 30-60 seconds, while checking the latest industry news. For some extra burn, try crossing the right ankle over the left knee, hold for 15 seconds, then switch!
6. Printing Prince or Princess:
Your boss just requested that a client report be printed “perfectly.” Why would you lazily stand by the printer when you could be sculpting your calves with calf raises? Do this by standing with feet shoulder-width apart, press up onto the tippy toes, pause at the top, then lower back down. Repeat for three sets of 12-15 reps, or until your time at the printer is done. Ready to level up? Try raising only one leg at a time.
7. Seated Leg Raise:
While seated, straighten one or both legs and hold in place for five or more seconds. Then lower the leg(s) back to the ground without letting the feet touch the floor. Repeat (alternating legs if raising them separately) for 15 reps.
8. Desk Squat:
Have you mastered the art of standing next to the water cooler? Add a squat! Start standing with feet together (and chairs pushed out of the way). Bend the knees slightly so the thighs are almost parallel to the ground, as if sitting in a chair. As you bend, raise the arms straight up or towards the water cooler. Keep the knees together and aligned. Hold for 15 seconds and release. Repeat for 4-6 reps.
9. Dip Into It:
No, we’re not talking about Karen’s amazing Seven-Layer Dip. We’re talking about tricep dips. With the feet planted on the floor a step or two away from the desk or chair, straighten up the arms to lift up the body. Next, bend the arms to reach a 90-degree angle so that your body dips down, hold, and re-straighten while keeping the body raised above the chair. Complete 8-10 reps.
10. Your Secret Handshake:
Your job description might be to make some deals, but the only deal you need to make is to yourself. Sitting up and with feet flat on the floor, clasp hands together as if giving yourself a handshake (with one hand’s thumb pointing to the floor and the other pointing to the ceiling). Then pull! Resist the motion of both arms (you should definitely feel this in those biceps). Hold for 10 seconds or more, release, and repeat.
11. Get Your Wings:
Whether you’re new to the job or a seasoned veteran, this move will have you feeling like you can take anything on. Standing with arms by your sides and palms facing behind, pulse the arms backward for 5 seconds. Release and repeat for 12-15 reps. For best results, make sure to keep the arms long and straight!
12. Shoulder Shrug:
Not recommended for board meetings (unless you’re really on the fence). Simply raise both shoulders up toward the ears, hold for 5 seconds, then relax. Repeat for 15 reps.
13. Push It To The Limit:
Standing one to two feet from a sturdy wall (not a cubicle divider!), lean forward until palms are flush against the wall, with arms straight and parallel to the ground. Next, bend the elbows to bring the body towards the wall, hold for two seconds, then push back to the starting position. Complete 12-15 reps.
14. Swivel Side-To-Side:
Use its twirl to your advantage with this oblique abs fix. Sitting upright and with the feet hovering over the floor, hold the edge of your desk with your fingers and thumb. Next, use the core to swivel the chair from side to side. Swish back and forth for 15 rounds.
15. Not hammer time but crunch time
With deadlines looming, as are hopes for that summer body. You can get some definition with some seated isometric crunches. With both elbows on the thighs, try to curl the chest in towards the legs while resisting the movement with the arms. Hold for 10 seconds, release, and repeat times 10.