I’ve spoken about how much time we spend sitting and the negative impact it has on our lives. A big one being on our fitness levels. Sitting clearly can’t make us fit or that’s what we think! Yes, you can get fit at your desk, if you don’t mind attracting attention and jeopardising your image and sensible reputation at the same time!
Ready to give it a go?
Let’s start with some gentle desk yoga and stretches to ease tension, improve posture and get the blood flowing.
Sit with two feet flat on the floor and bum pressed into back of chair.
Seated Crescent Moon Pose
This lovely side stretch helps ease neck and shoulder tension. Simply lift your arms overhead and stretch your fingers wide. Lean to the right, taking 2 to 3 deep breaths. Repeat on the left side for another 2 to 3 deep breaths. Repeat as many times you need.
Wrist and Finger Stretches
Tapping away at a computer and cause tension to build up in the muscles and tendons in the fingers, hands, and wrists, so extra blood flow to these areas is always appreciated. Every couple of hours try these two movements:
- Extend the arms to the sides or overhead and draw 5 to 10 circles inward and outward through the wrists. Next, quickly spread the fingers and close the fists, repeating this 5 to 10 times to shake off any excess tension.
- Stretch each arm out and bend the wrist inward then outward, counter-stretching with your other hand. Hold each side 5 to 10 breaths.
Desk Plank Pose
Place your hands shoulder width distance or wider at the desk edge. Step your feet back until your feet are directly under your hips as you create a pleasant feeling traction for your spine. Hold 5 to 10 breaths and let this pose help you undo all the negative effects of sitting. (Only do this if your desk is fixed into position.)
Sit up tall and drop your right ear down towards your right shoulder (you don’t have to touch it!) and hold for a few seconds and repeat for the left side. Bring your head back to the upright position before doing the next stretch.
Turn your head the left and try and look over your shoulder and hold for a few seconds … repeat on the right.
Starting with your head again in the upright position, drop your chin down towards your chest and gently roll your head from side to side.
Your colleagues might think you are reacting to something you are reading with this one but it’s a great tension reliever. Raise both shoulders up towards your ears and hold for a few seconds and release, repeat as many times as you need to.
Bring your hands behind your back, press your palms together, sit up tall and hold for 5–10 seconds. A little like a backward praying pose.
This one stretches out the glutes. With your right ankle on your left knee, gently press against the right knee a few times. Swap over to the left side and repeat.
Now that you’re all warmed up it’s time for the real exercise to begin. Grab a glass of water and get moving and ignore the funny looks you might get!
Walk/Jog/Run in Place
You do have to stand up for this but can stay at your desk. Just start moving as quickly as you can for 30–45 seconds, between 3–5 times. Walking, jogging or running on the spot will get the heart pumping.
Don’t panic you will not have to lie on office floor to do this. Use your desk or a wall and push up from it doing 10 – 20 reps at a time.
These are great for toning and shaping, simply stand up and sit back down and repeat 10 – 20 times.
Jumping with both feet at once, or alternate if that is too difficult, pretend you’re jumping over a rope. Increase the intensity by adding some arm movements.
Stand up behind your chair and hold on for support. Raise your heels off the floor until you are standing on your toes. Slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Do 3 sets of 10.
This is a really easy one to do and no one will even know you are doing it! Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can and hold for 10–30 seconds. Do as many as you can as often as you can.
Find a heavy book or small box that weighs a hold it at shoulder height and then raise it all the way overhead. Do this about 10 times and repeat 3 times.
Another easy but really effective one. Stand with your back against the wall and slowly lower yourself into a seated position and hold for 10–30 seconds at a time and feel the burn.
Do this at your desk by putting one leg in front of the other and gently lowering the knee of your back leg down towards the floor. Try between 10 and 15 per leg. Alternatively, you can lunge your way around the office, long corridors are good spaces. You might get some strange looks!
Try some or all of these as often as you can so they become part of your everyday routine.
And remember to do some work during or in between exercises and not only will your fitness levels increase but so should your productivity and performance. Get your colleagues moving too, a bit of competitiveness and camaraderie will keep you motivated.
Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager