It’s me! Will. I’m back with another coder (or pretty much any desk worker) health and wellness in the office post by the illustrious Cayleigh Stickler. In case you missed the other post, it’s here.
By now, we know that sitting down for long periods of time without any breaks is bad for your body and health. From obesity to heart disease, the sedentary lifestyle many office workers adopt can cause serious health conditions difficult or impossible to reverse.
More staggering is the 9% of office workers who admit to working out regularly.
It can feel overwhelming getting back into—or starting—an exercise routine. After work, family, and chores, who has a couple hours to kill at a gym to balance the scales from sitting all day? Not me, and I’m guessing you don’t either. But you don’t need to go all out right away, especially if you don’t have the motivation to get up and moving right now.
Instead, take an inventory of the time you do currently exercise throughout the day. Whether it’s five minutes or five hours, there’s no shame in knowing where you currently are.
If you can’t find time before or after work to get moving, find pockets of time during work you can stand for a quick in-place jog or side bend. Deskercising—working out while sitting or standing next to a desk—has become more popular in recent years. Here are five quick and easy exercises to get your blood pumping.
1. Seated Twist
This one is simple, and you probably do it without realizing. It’s effective in helping you to loosen your back muscles and allows you to take deeper breaths.
Sit up tall in your seat. Without moving your legs, turn your torso to the right and grab the back of the chair with your left hand. Twist into it as far as you can and hold for fifteen seconds. Let go of the chair and face forward. Repeat with the left side by twisting to the left and grabbing the back of the chair with your right hand. Hold for another fifteen seconds.
2. Super Leg Strength
For this one, you’ll need to hunt for a ream of printer paper. Grab the ream and sit in your chair. Extend your legs all the way under your desk, and balance the ream on both your shins.
The goal is to lift your legs and bring them down—while still extended—without dropping the paper. The paper acts as a counterweight, like the curling machine in the gym.
Special note: The paper is loud when it falls. It helps to not do this one while talking to a customer or while in a meeting. Laughing is also a side effect of dropping the paper.
3. Chair Squat
This one is less inconspicuous as some of the other exercises, but your core and glutes will get a good workout.
You should already be standing up at least once every hour for five minutes, so before you sit all the way down, do a squat by hovering above the chair in a seated position while freezing for fifteen seconds or longer.
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4. Shrug and Roll
This exercise is just as it sounds. When you sit at a desk staring at a computer all day, your shoulders and neck hold a lot of tension. The best way to release it, without hiring a masseuse to follow you around the office all day, is to do a shrug and roll. It helps to work out the kinks, and you feel more invigorated.
While you’re sitting in a natural position, shrug your shoulders. Intentionally bring them up to your ears and slowly release until they’re to their normal position. After you do this a couple times, roll your shoulders forward twice and backward twice.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can tilt your head all the way to the right then the left to further stretch your neck.
It’s advised you keep this exercise out of conference room meetings to reduce confusion.
5. Tall and Mighty
Not only will your body benefit from this simple exercise, but your confidence will too.
For this exercise, all you have to do is sit up straight. That’s it. Except when you’ve been sitting in a chair for fifty-five minutes (because you’ve been standing up for those extra five minutes, right?), it’s easy to start slouching, even with the best of intentions.
Be mindful how you’re sitting. You should be sitting with your back resting against the back of the chair.
If your chair has lumbar support, it’ll be easier for you to use the spine in the chair to guide your spine to sit correctly.
If you don’t have lumbar support, focus on your loåwer back muscles and make sure they’re aligned. Move up your back to make sure your spine is straight. Pull your shoulders back and down. (Do a few shoulder rolls if they’re tense.) Look forward, which will make your neck straight. Make your chin parallel with your desk to put your head in the proper position.
It might be unreasonable to hold your body in this position all day—after all, you’re not a robot—but readjust when you notice you’re slouching. It’ll give you a quick boost in confidence, too, so sit up straight before delivering any project ideas.
Working out doesn’t have to be a slog or bore, and you don’t need to sacrifice a lot of sleep or family time to “catch up.” Find simple and fun ways to exercise around the office. You can make it a game with yourself or other colleagues to encourage each other.
Get creative, and find small ways to get healthy. Your body and mind will thank you for the extra effort.
Cayleigh Stickler is a single mom of two toddlers who wears many hats as a content marketer, fiction editor, and mountain adventurer. She loves using her psychology degree and passion for holistic wellness to inspire and help people define what healthy means to them. When she isn’t wrangling her two toddlers, she is available for writing services.