How Can You Get a Dose of Physical Activity at the Office Without Looking Crazy?
Sitting kills. Unfortunately, for those of us that work at a desk most of the day, it’s nearly impossible to fight the ills of a sedentary lifestyle. Research shows even men and women that workout before or after posting up at the office are at risk for dying younger due to their 9-5.
A mini office workout routine can help break up the long stretches of inactivity that destroy our muscles, flexibility and waistline. Here’s how to work some activity into your day at the office without looking crazy.
Choose your workout: Start from the ground up, working from your feet to your head as guided by the steps below for a whole-body invigorator a couple of times a day – or do some intervals of each exercise throughout your workday whenever it’s convenient.
Step 1: Foot and Ankle Stretches
– While sitting, lift one foot off the floor and stretch leg out (90 degrees). Keep your foot flexed with the toes pointed upward and spread out as much as possible.
– Push heel forward and flex toes up and out – as if your pushing the face of your toenails towards you. The base of your heel in a flexed, forward action should create a slight ankle to calf stretch…
– Hold for a second and then point your toes down, create an arch and flex your foot and ankle downward.
– Repeat the up, down flexed positions about 10-20 times using controlled, mindful motions. Be sure to keep your thigh and calf firm, but careful not to hyperextend your knee. Perhaps bend the knee just slightly if you feel pressure there.
– Finish with a few deep breaths while doing slow rotations of your ankle in a motion to the right and then left.
– Lower your leg, place foot flat on the floor, and repeat on the other side.
Our feet our the foundation of our whole body and we should be mindful of them even when sitting. Desk dwellers tend to gnarl their feet up into weird positions (like flexed tip-toe action or awkwardly bent ankles) while in the throws of concentration. Try to ground your feet flat under your desk, and do foot and ankle stretches now and then to get some much needed blood flow throughout your tootsies and lower legs.
Step 2: Leg Work
Calves – Stand up and do a few pulses on your tippy toes to engage your calves. If there’s a stairwell at your office, hide out there and use the bottom step to get a deeper stretch (with toe pads on the step, and your heels dipping off and down below your toe pads while you grip the railing to stabilize your calf raises). If no one’s looking, try to knock out a few sessions of 20 times up and down.
Hamstrings – Stand on one leg somewhere – either in front of your desk, at the sink in the office bathroom, or even while waiting at the copy machine. Lift the opposite leg behind you, knee bent, foot flexed. Now tighten your thighs and butt as you raise the base of your foot to the ceiling. OR, if you’re embarrassed you’ll be seen by a coworker, you can simply do leg lifts under your desk to engage this area: While sitting, stretch one leg at a time straight out, lower heel to just above the ground and raise toes to top of desk. Do about 30 controlled motions on each leg to make it worth it.
Step 3: Engage Your Glutes and Core
Butt and Thighs – Do chair squats every time you leave or return to your chair. Lower yourself down until you’re just about to touch the seat with your butt – then raise up again. Squat like this 5 times every time you get up from your desk and 5 times before you sit back down again.
Ab Work – Doing crunches at the office would be crazy-talk, but you can secretly work on tightening your abs throughout the day. Try tightening your abdominals every hour on the hour, for about 60 seconds each area. Start with your lower abdominals, and move on to isolate and tighten your mid and upper sections. OR, while you’re walking around the office and to-and-from your car, maintain focus on strengthening your core and tighten your abs throughout the day.
Step 4: Roll Your Shoulders and Do a Neck Stretch
Shoulders – Roll both shoulders back slowly in controlled, circular motions. Do this about 15-20 times while breathing deeply and on your last count, hold your shoulders back, opening the chest and front body. Hold this position for 10 seconds and breathe deeply, pinching your shoulder blades together at your back with good posture. Don’t strain, stretch with ease.
Now rotate shoulders forward, repeating the process above, except on your last count cat your back forward with a rounded spine for a few seconds. Enough to take about two deep breaths. Return to proper posture, upright with shoulders back.
Neck – Seated at your desk, turn your head 45 degrees to the left. Lower your chin, resting it close to, or just lightly on, your chest. Put your left hand on top of your head, just above the base of the skull on the crown of your noggin. Rest your hand gently, letting your arm relax and slightly dangle – do this without forcing your neck down. Just lightly rest your hand on the head, and let the neck stretch happen naturally in that position to avoid any strain. Breathe long and deep.
Take a few deep breaths in and out, then let go, returning your neck up and then forward. Roll the neck slowly a couple of times both ways and repeat this process on the right side. Incorporating controlled, deep breathing here is important!
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