Many of us find it hard to juggle every aspect of our lives, and there’s no shame in that. Work often becomes a priority, and our health can suffer as a result. If you’re finding yourself too tired to head to the gym after work, why not try deskercise to incorporate exercise into your life at the office.
We all know the drill – you get home from a long day at work, glance at your barely-used gym pass and reach for the phone instead.
Chinese takeout is about all you’re good for after a day at the office, so exercise takes a back seat.
While chow mein and Netflix are two of my favorite things in the world, I’m also aware that exercise is pretty important.
There are easy ways to deskercise during your time at work so that you can relax once you get home, safe in the knowledge that you’ve been proactive in improving your wellbeing.
Don’t worry – I’m not suggesting sliding (or stiffly having to physically lift your legs to move them) into a downward dog in your cubicle, but there are definitely some easy ways to get a mini workout in while you’re at the office.
Never underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned wander.
We all sit down for far too long and it’s suggested that moving from a seated position every 30 minutes helps improve concentration levels and benefits our bodies.
Head to the water tower for a gossip with Brenda and take the scenic route (wishful thinking!) back to your desk.
Five minutes away from your computer won’t be the end of the world, and moving around will help you focus much more when you do sit back down.
By all means, break into a light jog if the mood takes you. Skipping is too far though! – put your arms back down.
Deskercise doesn’t have to be anything over obvious to others either. Clenching in the office is normally reserved for your teeth after your boss piles even more work on your desk.
Try shifting that tension to your butt instead – squeeze your bum cheeks firmly together for a few seconds before releasing.
Repeat this action for a couple of minutes and gently pulse up and down.
This will work to tone the glutes and thighs, so let go of your self-consciousness and get involved.
If possible, stand for periods of time while you work from your desk. Don’t worry, you don’t need to start any cardio!
Just taking a break from sitting down can make a difference to how your body feels.
Our posture can get pretty bad when we’re sat down all day, so taking regular breaks to stand and wiggle can help us realign everything.
This deskercise is also great for your brain, and will actively shift your mindset.
You probably don’t spend all day chained to your desk, so feel free to explore other exercises while you work.
If you find yourself stood in an impromptu meeting, or waiting at the photocopier, take the chance to get some moves in.
Now’s a great chance to practice some yoga poses and work on your core.
An easy way to do this is by shifting your weight from foot to foot – lift one leg a few inches off the floor at a time.
It doesn’t need to be a Moulin Rouge-style high kick, but just enough that you find yourself squeezing in your core muscles.
Keep your torso square and avoid sinking into your standing leg or hip.
Gently lower and alternate for 10 reps on each leg.
Again, a little arm workout designed to get you active as opposed to shredded.
Take it in turns to bring each arm up from your legs to your chest, so your hand meets your shoulder.
Imagine you’re pumping iron and get yourself into a nice rhythm. Aim for 10 reps, swapping the ‘weight’ each time.
Take a few moments to steady your breathing and go again.
Grab your paperweight (or stapler!) and blast the Rocky theme tune, even if only in your head.
Take it in turns to extend each arm straight in front of you while the other is curled into your chest.
Swap the paperweight each time you change arms.
Keep going for 12 reps before taking a little break and going for it again.
The paperweight itself won’t do much in the way of building muscles, but having to grip something will encourage your arms to really engage and stay active.
Obviously, don’t go leaning around on walls when your boss is around/ you’re in boss-mode, but find the time to do this at least once a day.
Keep your feet together and stand sideways on to a wall – you’re going to be resting on your forearm, so stand an appropriate distance away.
Lean towards the wall and let your weight fall onto your arm as you press back against the wall and support your body.
Resist the urge to slump! You should be leaning at an angle, not letting your body touch your forearm.
Hold for 10 seconds and swap sides, giving yourself a nice panoramic view of your lovely co-workers.
For an extra boost, extend your free arm out or above you and keep your focus on your breath.
Another easy one to do while you’re sitting down, this move involves lifting your body off your chair.
Sit up straight and press your arms down into your armrests.
If you don’t have any, splay your fingers wide and press your palms down into the seat on either side of your thighs.
Raise your body up off the chair for a count of 10 and repeat 3 times.
Not on the floor, don’t worry. This is another good move to practice if you have to wait around at a printer.
Stand facing a wall and take a big step back until you’re arm’s length away.
Press your hands into the wall and spread your fingertips wide.
Lean your body weight onto your hands, being careful not to collapse into your wrists.
Bend the elbows generously as you move your body forwards. Push away again and straighten your arms.
Don’t lock them into position, but allow for movement.
Activate your core and try and keep your shoulders pressed down and away from your ears.
This should make you feel as though you’re creating space, not squishing everything together.
This leg exercise won’t have you hobbling around tomorrow, don’t stress.
Push your chair back from your desk a little and give yourself some room in front of you.
Sit with your knees bent and your legs at a 90-degree angle.
Take it in turns to stretch a leg out long and pulse for 3 seconds. Lower and switch.
This is great for toning your legs but also works for your core.
When you stretch your leg out, you may find your stomach dipping in and your back curving forwards.
If this happens, you’re not going to get anything from this move other than a sore back.
Keep your back straight, engage your core and create a right angle – your torso and extended leg should form a 90-degree angle.
Repeat for each leg ten times.
Flex your feet while your leg is extended so that your foot is pointing upwards – spread your toes inside your shoe if you can.
This keeps the muscles in your leg engaged and active.
Be careful not to make eye contact while doing this – you don’t want to be viewed as sassy and indecisive.
Slowly, and I mean slowly, shrug your shoulders and pause for a few moments when they come in line with your ears.
The idea here is to loosen your neck and back, so release everything down slowly as well.
There’s always a rush to get things over with and move on to the next step.
This exercise isn’t about losing weight or toning up, and definitely shouldn’t feel like a punishment. Instead, focus on moving with purpose, and try and time your movements with your breath, and vice versa.
Repeat ten times, take a break and go again.
Much like the hidden bum-toning, this move involves clenching everything together. This time, focus on your core.
Concentrate on squeezing your abs back towards your spine, and draw your navel in and backwards. It sounds strange, I know.
Try and keep your torso lifted as you suck it all in, don’t slouch over as you clench!
This deskercise move is great for you if you focus on bringing it all in through your stomach, and using your lower back and glutes to keep yourself grounded to your seat.
Think about pulling your body in opposite directions and find that resistance – it shouldn’t be painful but it should feel active.
Deskercise is designed for you to do inconspicuously, and without really breaking a sweat.
There are plenty of other options if you’re comfortable bouncing around the office – star jumps, squats, and burpees are all pretty simple moves that don’t require equipment.
I’ve suggested the above as they can be done easily and subtly. They might not get you a six-pack, but they will help keep your muscles healthy and improve your mental health, too.
Other easy ways to stay active in your work-day are pretty common sense – take the stairs, go for a walk on your lunch break and mix up your commute by hopping off the bus or metro a stop early.
Most of all, have fun with it all and keep an open mind!
Have you tried Deskercise? Did you find it fun, useful, helped your wellbeing? We’d love to hear any thoughts in the comments section below…
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