On a typical working week, employees spend an average of five hours and 41 minutes per day sitting at their desk, according to the British Psychological Society. And while you might be a spreadsheet champion or a superstar on the telephone there’s no doubt that sitting all day increases your risk for obesity and can lead to back pain and poor posture. So what can you do? Short bouts of strength exercises and stretching in between conference calls could help improve fitness levels, muscle strength and burn a few extra calories, too.
1. First things first, walking is totally underrated, so get up and take a stroll across the office to catch up with colleagues or welcome a new employee – and always take the stairs over the lift.
2. Practise perfect posture by adjusting your chair height to make sure your feet, hips and arms are at 90-degree angles to the floor.
3. Next, engage the core and keep your back straight throughout the day – no slouching allowed!
4. And don’t forget your eyes – computers strain the eyes, so you need to strengthen them, too. By gazing at a distant object for 15 to 30 seconds, every 40 minutes, you’ll give your eyes the rest they need.
5. Waiting for the printer? Time to sculpt those calves! Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, press up onto your tip toes, pause at the top and then lower back down. Repeat for three sets of 12-15 reps, or until the printing is done.
6. For the benefit of your back and neck, stretch from head to toe, beginning with the neck. Slowly tilt your head towards your shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds. Do alternate sides.
7. Next loosen up your shoulders. Roll both shoulders forward in a circular motion then backward. Repeat 10 times.
8. Try the shoulder shrug, too. Raise both shoulders up toward the ears, hold for five seconds, then relax. Repeat for 15 reps. Then try with a bottle of water in each hand.
9. Next, fist punch into the air like a winner, alternating your arms, and continue for 60 seconds or more.
10. Keeping your core strong will also help your posture: simply take a deep breath and tighten the abdominal muscles, bringing them in towards the spine as you exhale. Stay squeezed for 5-10 seconds and release. Repeat for 12-15 reps.
11. Got more room to move? Try your hand at some burpees – start out in a low squat position with hands on the floor. Next, kick the feet back to a push-up position, complete one push-up, then immediately return the feet to the squat position. Leap up as high as possible before squatting and moving back into the push-up stance.
12. Break out the plank. Lie face down with forearms on the floor and hands clasped. Extend the legs behind the body and rise up on the toes. Keeping the back straight, tighten the core and hold the position for 30-60 seconds (or as long as you can hang).
Thirsty for more?
The office probably isn’t the place for kettlebells, but if exercises at your desk aren’t enough, why not bagsy an empty conference room, see if there’s a gym near the office (if you’d rather your colleagues didn’t see your workout moves), or buddy up with a friend and take a jog or brisk walk at lunchtime. It’s proven that time out of the office will improve your mood and general well-being, combating stress and rebooting your working day.
- Careers advice