The importance of physical activity was never more realized than in this day and age where a sedentary lifestyle is the norm. Desk exercises are a baby step towards breaking out of the monotony and starting to reduce the ill-effects that the hours of sitting are having on your health. You would be surprised to know how much you can do for your body without even leaving your desk. Don’t know where to start? Here are the most effective and simple desk exercises that could get you started.
Simple Desk Exercises to Stay Active
It is always recommended to take a break from your desk every now and then to refresh yourself. But here are some desk exercise you can do without even having to leave your space.
Desk Exercises for the Neck
Based on the height of your chair and desk, and the angle of your screen, your neck could be taking a lot of strain before you have a chance to notice. Here are a few things you can do for your neck.
- Side-to-side: Sit straight and comfortably. Turn your head to look left, parallel to your shoulders. Hold it there for five seconds, then turn right to repeat the same. Repeat five times.
- Up & down: It is a similar oscillatory motion, except you start by looking for five seconds and then upwards for the same duration. Roll your shoulders back and try not to round them.
- Rotation stretch: Start by looking downwards, then slowly start rotating your neck clockwise. Focus on getting a good stretch, instead of speeding it up. Go clockwise five times, then repeat it anti-clockwise.
If you feel a tense muscle or stiffness in a certain part of your neck, start by moving your head in directions that feel comfortable to you.
Desk Exercises for the Shoulders and Hands
If long hours at the desk are causing you discomfort, you might notice some of it through the soreness in your shoulders, especially the joints. Do these to take some of the load off.
- Shoulder rotations: Leave your hands loose by your sides if you can stand up. If you are sitting down, bring your fingers to touch your shoulders. Start by rotating your shoulders forward for a few circles, then switch to rotate them backward. Make sure you get a full circle.
- Extended hands: This requires a huge bubble of uninvaded space. So, if you have space, start by extending your hands ahead of you, parallel to the ground. From here, move them upwards, and then to the side, extending outwards. Hold each position for about a couple of seconds and repeat this cycle five times. If lacking space, roll your shoulders inwards and extend your hands up ahead and back down in front of you.
- Fist clench: We tend to ignore how our palms and fingers are working magic at the keyboard. Take a minute to stop the clickety-clack and clench your fists. Start with your fingers and move on inwards. Relax them by moving the fingers outwards as much as possible.
- Wrist rotation: Make a fist with the thumb wrapped over the middle of your fingers. Gently start by rotating it from the wrist, first clockwise then anti-clockwise. For additional support, wrap the thumb and middle finger of the other hand around the wrist.
Desk Exercises for the Legs
It doesn’t seem like they’re taking enough of the load while sitting at a desk all day, does it? Think again. If you do not take any effort, your legs could end up stiff and cramped up. To avoid this, consider doing the following:
- Folded legs: A change in the stance can make a difference. Instead of crossing your legs one over another, change it up by folding your legs up on your chair, yoga-style. This pose can also help correct your posture.
- Wiggle your toes: This is pretty convenient, especially if you can’t afford much motion. Now and then when you feel like you’ve been stationary for too long, wiggle your toes.
- Foot rotation: This is similar to wrist rotations. Raise your legs for some space and start rotating your feet.
- Leg raises: Sit with your back straight and knees bent at a right angle. Rest your hands at your desk. Slowly begin to raise your legs up, with the knees still bent. With this, you ought to feel some pressure on your core.
- Extended legs: As you did with your hands, let your legs extended in front of you while still sitting in your chair. Try keeping your back straight and not supported during this. Keep your feet straight.
For some extra stretch, you can add in some butt kicks when you are standing up. These don’t even have to be quick or aggressive, simple and slow works well.
Desk Exercises for your Core and Back
If you are not sitting right, or sitting or standing in the same posture for too long, it is bound to take a toll on your back. Here are a few things you can try.
- Extended hands: Open up your hands backward. Do this standing up, if possible. This helps open up your upper back and shoulders.
- Back namaste: As you would join your hands in front of your chest for a ‘namaste’, try doing it behind your back. Bring your palms towards each other and join them. Raise them as high up on your back as possible.
- Side stretch: Raise one hand straight up and start bending it towards the opposite side. You should feel it at the side of your waist.
- Abdominal squeeze: This sounds simple. Hold your abs squeezed in. It might be a bit difficult in practice but don’t give up. The key is to start small and then extend your time as you start getting comfortable.
- Glute squeeze: Yup, put your butt muscles to work and squeeze them in. This is easier standing up, but can also be practiced when seated. Stronger glutes can support your lower back better.
With a lifestyle that increasingly encourages sedentary behavior, engaging purposefully in physical activity can have some much-wanted overall health benefits. However, it doesn’t mean you can ignore your body and wellbeing during work hours. These are some simple and effective desk exercise which can leave you refreshed and less stressed while at work. Time to move!