A Gallup Poll conducted a few years ago found that fully employed adults work an average of 47 hours per week. Despite the uptick in the number of employees who work from home all or part of the time, most professionals in the United States spend a large chunk of each weekday in an office, at a desk.
Spending much of the workday at your desk on the phone or computer may be vital to your professional success. Unfortunately, countless studies show you may be paying an invaluable price: jeopardizing your health. Physical inactivity raises the risk of certain cancers, diabetes, cognitive decline, heart attack, stroke, obesity, depression, osteoporosis, etc.
Fortunately, with a bit of creativity, time management skills and a few props (which you probably already have on hand in your office), you can have your cake (a productive day in the office) and eat it too (enjoy the health benefits of an active lifestyle). Here are five easy, quick, effective exercises you can do in your office. Your body will thank you, as will your boss — when you get your blood flowing, you become happier, more focused and more creative.
1. Have a Ball
Actually, sit on a ball … an exercise ball instead of a chair. Or, sit on an office chair that incorporates an exercise ball, such as Gaiam’s balance ball chairs or Isokinetics’ exercise ball chairs. In order to stay balanced on an exercise ball, you must engage your core. In other words, if you’re not falling off, you are strengthening your abdominal muscles. Balance on the ball, place your shoulders back, feet on the floor hip-width apart, and get to work on that report or presentation — and your six pack all at the same time. (Review other egronomic office furniture options in this blog.)
2. Desk Dips
If you’ve got a desk, you’ve also got a tricep toning machine. Sit on the very edge of your desk with each palm gripping the edge of the desk. Bend slowly from the elbows until they reach a 90-degree angle, dipping your upper body down to meet the elbows. Push back up slowly. Ideally, do 20 dips per session.
3. Wall Squats
Exercise doesn’t have to take a long time or make you sweat in order to be effective, nor does it require any special equipment. Case in point: the innocuous-looking but shockingly tough wall squat.
Simply stand with your head and back against a wall, arms at your sides and feet about 18 inches in front of the wall, shoulder width apart. Slowly slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor. That’s it! You will feel the burn — quickly. You can easily work these into your workday. Track your progress by timing how long you can hold the pose and try to add more seconds each time. (Yes, you’ll likely measure your progress in seconds rather than minutes.)
4. Seated Calf Raises
Arguably the easiest at-the-desk exercise is the seated calf raise. You don’t even need to take notes for this one! You’re already at your desk, in your chair, with your feet on the ground. As you’re doing what needs to be done, lift both of your heels up at the same time, squeeze your calves for a couple seconds, then lower your feet. Repeat.
5. One-Minute Aerobics
You may be busy. You’re probably not so incredibly busy that you can’t spare 60 seconds every couple of hours to benefit your health. Research suggests that when you’re physically active enough to boost your heart rate even a little, you’re benefiting your health. You could leave the office during your lunch break, go to the gym, shower and rush back feeling like you’ve boosted your health. Or, you could engage in periodic 60-second aerobics sessions in the comfort of your office!
It’s easy! Set a timer and go hard and fast for one minute. You can sprint in place, air jump rope, do jumping jacks or burpees, shadow box, etc. Just as you’re saying to yourself, “I can’t do this for another second,” you’ll be done!