There’s always a slump at some point of the workday when you need that pick-me-up. Sure, it’s easy to gravitate toward snacking, but why not get your blood pumping, instead? A recent study found that lunchtime walks can drastically improve your workday by bettering “enthusiasm, relaxation and nervousness,” which goes a long way for an employee’s productivity. If slipping away from the desk isn’t as easy a task, have no fear — there’s always a way to use your office as a workout.
“Since most of your waking hours are probably spent at your desk, it’s important to sneak in any kind of physical activity while at work,” said Liz Barnet, NYC-based CPT and instructor at Uplift Studios and SLT. “The increased blood flow could help prevent low back pain and hip flexor tightness from continued periods of sitting.”
Barnet stresses how easy it is to get a workout in the comfort of your own cubicle. Check out her five office-friendly moves for a more active work day:
1. Squat to chair
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“Sitting is considered the new smoking in terms of possible negative health consequences,” Barnet said. Her suggestion? Take advantage of your chair and incorporate it into some basic squats.
For beginners, start with a sturdy chair, potentially with arm rests. Start with your feet shoulder distance apart, sit your hips back until your backside touches the chair, and push through your heels to stand up. You can reach your arms out in front of you (or even touch your desk) as a counter balance, or put your hands behind your head for a challenge. Aim for 20 reps, three sets.
2. Desk pushups
While you may not want to drop down in your suit or high heels to churn out 20 push-ups, your desk serves as a perfect prop to make them accessible and acceptable. Place your hands on the edge of your desk, slightly wider than shoulder distance apart. Angle your body in a straight line from head to toe. Bend elbows out to the sides as you lower your chest toward the desk. Be sure to exhale and engage your core as you straighten your arms.
Work up to 10 to 20 in a row, three sets.
3. Single Leg Lunge
Your desk chair could also be an excellent lower body prop with these single leg lunges. In order to get more comfortable with the balance required in this exercise, start standing with your hands on your hips and feet together. Take one leg back and flex your foot onto your desk chair. Focus on tucking your tailbone, leaning slightly forward and contracting your core. Simply lunge towards the ground and back up to standing.
Aim 12 reps, three sets.
4. Upper back and shoulder strengtheners
Sit up tall and extend your arms out in front of you at shoulder height but slightly to the side, in a V shape. Practice lifting your arms up overhead and back to shoulder height (like in a Y shape), then from shoulder height open them outward (like in a T shape).
From the overhead position and the shoulder height position, bend and extend your elbows like you are pulling down from overhead and pulling back horizontally.
Complete 10 reps of each of the four movements, all in a row, two sets.
5. Seated Pelvic Tucks
The key to performing a pelvic tuck is all about your posture. Bring your pelvis into a balanced position by aligning your pubic bone directly under the hip bones. In a neutral spine your back should feel completely released, abs and pelvic floor are still engaged. From here, less is more.
Starting with your neutral position – exhale and pull abs in and up while lifting through the pelvic floor. You will feel a very slight tipping up of the pubic bone with lower abdominal engagement. Lengthen your spine, reaching tailbone away from the crown of head and firmly press your feet through the floor.
Aim for 20 reps, three sets.