In today's fast-paced world, the line between work and personal life is often blurred, especially for those who have embraced the world of remote work.
The comfort of working from home has its perks, but it can also take a toll on our physical health because of prolonged periods of sitting.
So what can we do to protect our bodies from such a sedentary lifestyle? Getting up to walk around regularly is vital, but there are things you can do even while you are working at your desk. Weaving desk exercises into your daily routine can be a real game-changer.
Here, we'll delve into the importance of movement and highlight a mix of easy-to-do upper and lower-body desk exercises, along with desk chair stretches that can seamlessly fit into your work-from-home schedule.
Revved up and ready for action? Great. Let’s do this.
Why movement matters
You’re probably aware that sitting for extended periods of time can have a negative impact on your posture and metabolism. But, did you know it can lead to other issues like muscular imbalances and decreased circulation?
Even if you go to the gym every day, long periods of inactivity can really do a number on your fitness levels.
Moving consistently throughout your workday can counteract these negative effects, boost your energy levels, and improve your focus.
Desk exercises are a simple yet effective way to keep your body engaged, promote blood flow, and prevent stiffness. They’ll also help you keep your body weight down in the long term and it’s a good way to level up your health when working from home. Bonus.
Upper body desk exercises
Let’s get those arms and shoulders moving. Taking regular breaks to perform upper body desk exercises will help you feel great from the waist up, and they can even prevent typing-related muscle cramps.
These handy desk exercises will also help you build upper body muscle, albeit slowly compared to what you do at the gym but, listen—it all adds up.
Sit up straight in your chair with your feet flat and shoulder-width apart. Gently roll your shoulders in a circular motion, first forward for 10 rotations, then backwards for 10 rotations. This exercise helps relieve tension in your shoulder muscles.
Seated arm raises
Maintain an upright posture and extend your arms straight out to the sides at shoulder height. Slowly bring them back down. Aim for three sets of 15 repetitions. This exercise engages your shoulder and upper back muscles. For a variation—extend your arms forward and do the same.
Stand a couple of feet away from your desk. Place your hands on the edge of the desk shoulder-width apart. Lower your chest toward the desk by bending your elbows, then push back up. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions. This desk exercise works your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Lower Body Desk Exercises
Now it's time to get those legs pumping. Don’t let all the hard work you do in the gym go to waste while you sit around all day—keep those muscles engaged and build stronger legs and glutes. The routine below will target your inner and outer thighs, your glutes, your calf muscles, your quadriceps, and your hamstrings.
Hold a small ball (a tennis ball will do) between your knees and squeeze it for five seconds. Then relax your legs a little—but don’t drop the ball. Sit tall and keep your core tight. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
Begin by standing in front of your chair with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself into a sitting position by bending your knees and lowering your hips toward the chair without actually sitting. Return to the standing position. Complete three sets of 12 repetitions.
Seated Leg Raise
Sit upright and extend one leg out in front of you, keeping it parallel to the ground. Hold for a few seconds, then lower it back down. Switch legs and repeat. Aim for three sets of 10 repetitions per leg.
While standing behind your office chair with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on the backrest for balance. Lift your heels off the ground, rising onto the balls of your feet, then lower them back down. Perform four sets of 15 repetitions.
Stretches to do at your desk chair
You get up at 6 am to do a gruelling workout. You get that sense of achievement and you feel great for the rest of the day…well, except those tight muscles. Going between resistance training and remaining dormant for hours on end can increase muscle pain and stiffness—so stretching is key.
Now, two minutes of stretching after the gym just isn’t going to cut it, so here are some simple stretches you can do throughout the day to reduce tightness and improve your mobility.
Sit up straight and gently tilt your head to the right, bringing your right ear toward your right shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds, then switch sides. Next, lower your chin to your chest and hold for another 15 seconds.
Seated Spinal Twist
Sit sideways in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Hold onto the top of the backrest of your chair with your right hand, placing your forearm on top of the chair. Slowly twist your torso round to the right. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch to the other side.
While seated, start with both knees bent, feet shoulder-width apart. Extend one leg out in a straight line with your heel on the floor and toes pointing upward. Lean slightly forward from your hips while keeping your back straight. Hold for 20 seconds and then switch legs.
Read: Our guide to fueling your early morning workouts to get revved up and ready for the day ahead.
The importance of exercise at your desk
Weaving these desk exercises and stretches into your daily work routine can make a significant difference to your overall well-being.
Remember: To get real results, consistency is key. Aim to perform these exercises and stretches at least three times a week.
You can do some of these while you continue to work, while others will give your mind a much-needed break so that you can return to your task feeling refreshed.
Start seeing your desk chair as a tool for maintaining a healthier body. The next time you find yourself engrossed in your work, take a moment to prioritise your physical health by giving these exercises a try.
Oh, and for the boost you need to succeed, try a health supplement from Crazy Nutrition. Your body will thank you.