Let’s face it: it can be hard to make time to get to the gym to exercise. You’re exhausted after a long day at work, and it takes extra motivation and dedication to remember to wake up early and hit the treadmill before your workday starts. But what if there was a way to inject some exercises into your workday from the comfort and convenience of your desk or cubicle? Listed below are 5 simple exercises you can use to stay in shape while staying right at your desk!
1. It can be intimidating to work out while sitting at your desk. Judgmental glances and curious stares could be ubiquitous. Why not start with something subtle to ease your way into “working out while you work?”
LEG LIFTS- While sitting in your chair, start this exercise by extending your legs until they lock and lifting them 6 to 12 inches off of the floor. Be sure to tighten your core—this means contracting your ab muscles as tightly as you can. Once your core is tightened and your legs are lifted off of the ground, hold this position for 30-45 seconds. This will work your legs and your abs at the same time!
2. This next exercise is slightly less subtle, and requires an object you can hold in your hand. I recommended a stapler or a stack of papers.
LATERAL ARM LIFTS- Holding the object in your hand, extend your arm until it locks. Keeping your arm straight, raise the object until your arm and body form a 90 degree angle. Hold this position for 8-10 seconds and then repeat until you are too tired to continue.
3. As you break out of your shell a bit, this next exercise requires you getting up out of your chair and using it as a fitness prop. Be careful if you have a chair with wheels!
CHAIR DIPS/CHAIR LEVITATION- Place your hands on the edge of your chair with your body positioned in front of the chair. While facing forward, dip your rear end towards the ground as your legs are fully straightened in front of you.
This should produce a slight burn in your arms as well as your core as you lower and raise yourself from the ground, with the support of your desk chair. One variation of this is “chair levitation,” where you sit in your chair and then place your hands on the perimeter of the seat to lift yourself up off the chair. With your rear end suspended in air, hold this position for as long as you can.
4. While the previous exercise required use of a chair, this next activity is no-chair-required. It may be helpful, however, to find a wall that you can press up against.
WALL SIT- The wall sit is an ageless classic. Pressing up against a wall can offer added support, while another option is to push your chair to the side as you squat at your desk. For the best results, squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold this position for 60 seconds if you can!
5. It’s time to stand and stretch! According to a study done by Spine Universe, it is extremely beneficial to take time to stand every 30 minutes. While standing, it’s a perfect time to engage in some subtle exercises that benefit your health and body.
CALF RAISES/RESISTANCE TRAINING- Stand on your tiptoes and raise your heels upwards. Repeat this action 5 times, and on the 5th rep, hold this pose for 30 seconds. Repeat this entire process 5 times. As you progress, you’ll begin to feel a burn in your calves. Once you’ve mastered this technique, consider adding in an upper body resistance exercise.
One example of this involves clasping your hands together as if you were giving yourself a handshake and then pulling apart your hands without letting go. Another example involves pressing the palms of your hands together—almost as if a praying pose—and holding the tension for as long as you can withstand it. The benefits of resistance and tension exercises are numerous, and they serve as a simple way to multi-task while doing calf raises.
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