Health x Wellness

Work out at your desk with these 5 effective exercises

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Contrary to popular belief, sitting at your desk all day without any breaks is not the best way to maximise your productivity. Taking a few minutes to step away from work and clear your mind every few hours or so might actually make you even more productive when you do return to your tasks.

Some people use their work breaks to run personal errands or do stress-relieving activities, such as reading, journaling or exercise. Religious or spiritual individuals may find it meaningful to allot certain portions of their day to prayer or meditation, and in these cases apps, such as the Muslim Pro app might be especially helpful. The app comes with scripture readings, auditory prompts, prayer time reminders, and other useful features that you can read about on the Muslim Pro app LinkedIn page and other social media.

If you are the sort of person who has difficulty making time for daily exercise, doing short workouts throughout the day is a viable alternative to squeezing a long routine into an already full schedule. Performing 5-10 minutes’ worth of simple exercises at your desk or in your work-from-home (WFH) office can also boost your energy and help you power through any mid-afternoon lethargy.

Here is a detailed list of simple but effective exercises you can do right now at your desk:

Neck and Shoulder Rolls

Most people who work desk jobs will spend extended amounts of time each day hunched over computers and other devices. This creates tension in the neck and shoulders and can lead to stiffness, muscle pain, and even headaches.

Before you get started on any more involved exercises, it’s important to shake off some of the tension that your body has accumulated from hours of sitting. One simple but effective move is to drop your chin down toward your chest and roll your head slowly to one side, then the other. You can follow this by rolling your shoulders forward and backward a few times. These two exercises alone are good to do several times a day.

You may feel some popping sensations as you work through these moves, and this is normal if it is not accompanied by any pain. If you feel any pain or soreness from doing these moves, stop immediately.

Chair Dips

Chair dips are good for working out your triceps and chest muscles. For this exercise, you will need an office chair that does not have wheels and cannot roll away from you.

Once you are ready to begin, move yourself to the very edge of your seat and extend your legs out in front of you with your knees bent and your heels touching the floor. Place your hands on either side of your hips, with the fingers pointing away from you.

Then, grip the edges of the chair and use your arms and core to raise your body off the seat. Then lower yourself so that your rear end sinks toward the floor. Try to go low enough that your upper arms are almost parallel to the floor.

Push yourself back up to your starting position and begin again. Repeat this at least 15 times.

Desk Push-Ups

If you need to build your upper body strength, all you need to do is to stand in front of your desk. Brace your palms against the edges of your desk, about shoulder-width apart. Move your feet away from the desk until your body is inclined diagonally towards it. Then slowly lower your chest toward your desk as you inhale and push yourself back up as you exhale, just as you would during a regular sequence of push-ups.

You can repeat this exercise as many times as is comfortable for you. Just make sure you have a workout-appropriate pair of shoes on. It is also possible to do these push-ups barefoot if your work shoes are not well-suited for exercising.

Seated Leg Lifts

This deceptively simple exercise works out your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors all at once. The best part is that you can perform it without getting up from your seat, so it’s totally possible to do a few reps at meetings or during conference calls without other people noticing.

Simply sit straight up in your office chair, then lift one leg straight out in front of you until it’s parallel to the floor and your hamstring comes off the seat. Hold your leg in place for about 10 seconds, then lower it. Repeat the same motion with your other leg.

Try to do about 15 reps of this exercise per leg. If you have strong legs and would like to make this exercise more challenging, try looping your purse or office bag around each leg as you lift it for some extra weight.

Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are a great full-body workout that can give you a much-needed burst of energy on especially sleepy afternoons. All you need to do is stand straight with your arms at your sides and your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. Then jump up and land with your feet set wider and your hands touching palm to palm over your head. Jump again to return to your starting position and repeat the exercise at least 10 times. 

Spending around 15 to 30 minutes exercising in your office is one healthy, productive use of your time during work breaks. It is also a practical way to hit your daily workout quota without having to hit the gym or shell out for expensive equipment.

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