Most of us spend more hours a day sitting in front of our computers during a regular 6.5 to 8-hour work day than sleeping, standing up or moving out and about. We generally commute to our offices seated in public transport, or when driving our own vehicle. We also sit when we are eating our food, two or three times a day, or when we want to have tea, coffee, or a drink with colleagues.
While we strive to be mentally active during our waking hours, all that sedentary work, and sitting around adds up the lack of physical activity. This makes us prone to uninvited problems of bad posture, back pain, muscle stiffness, weight gain, and yet, a feeling of restlessness. This is not surprising, considering that sitting for long periods of time causes our metabolism to slow down. The body’s ability to break down body fat, control blood sugar levels or maintain normal blood pressure is thus affected.
It is possible, however, to sneak in a few minutes of exercise even when you are at work. You can do these 6 exercises even at your desk:
Sit up tall and straight. Bring your left ear down to your left shoulder and hold this position for about 10 seconds. Repeat the same on the right side. All the time being mindful of the tension in the muscles and joints around your neck, gently bring your head and neck down towards your chest, tilt it to your left and slowly roll your head clockwise to the right, and anti-clockwise to the left again.
Next, raise both your shoulders up towards your ears and hold for a few seconds. Gently, roll them back and let them drop before bringing them forward and up again. Repeat this movement but in the opposite direction. Depending on your level of comfort, repeat the exercise twice or thrice.
Make sure your desk is strong and stable enough to support your weight. Stand a yard away from your table, feet together. Rest your hands on the desk in an inclined position by placing your palms apart on the edge of your desk at shoulder-width for support. Ensure you are not sagging your shoulders or back or bending your knees; lift your heels slightly so your toes are curled upwards. Inhale deeply while lowering your upper body and chest towards your desk, and exhale while pushing back. Do this about 10 to 15 times in slow, deliberate movements.
Next, turn around to face away from the table with your feet slightly apart. Place your palms behind you on the edge of your desk again on either side of your body. Lower your hips and upper body towards the floor until your elbows are bent at 90 degrees. Lift yourself up and repeat these desk dips at least 10 to 15 times.
Remain in a seated position and place your left arm on the outside of your right knee, and your right arm on the back of your chair. On an inhale, turn your head towards your right hand, lengthen your spine while twisting your upper body and pushing against your knee for leverage. Exhale, coming back to face forward. Inhale again, placing your right hand on the outside of your left knee, and left arm on the back of the chair. Repeat the twist towards the left this time. Only twist as much as comfortable.
If you can, bring your seat down to its lowest setting. Stand in front of your chair with your feet slightly apart. Place your hands on your hips and gently lower your buttocks until you’re just above the low seat but not touching it. Sit, and repeat the chair squats about 15-20 times. If you want this to be a little more challenging, raise your arms straight ahead of you, or over your head while you perform this exercise.
Keep yourself seated a little away from your desk. Raise your left leg and hold it for a few seconds before you bring it down and do the same for your right leg. If possible, when you raise your left leg, reach out with your right arm and try to touch your toes, or stretch and see how far you can go. Repeat this for the right leg and left arm.
Stand or remain seated with shoes off and your feet flat on the floor. Slowly raise your heels up from the floor and hold the position for a count of three. Lower them back to the flat position and repeat 10 times.
Next, raise your feet slightly and tap your toes on the floor in quick rapid movement or to a rhythm. Try to challenge yourself further by imitating this exercise performed by footballers. Stand in front of a small trash can (instead of a football) and hop to lift your legs to touch and tap its sides lightly. Use alternating feet and gradually increase your speed as best as you can.
Spread the above exercises throughout the day to maximise your level of physical activity, even if you are at work. Work on the number of steps you take by parking a few yards away from your office, choosing the stairs rather than the elevator wherever possible, and short, brisk walks before or after your lunch break.
While the above exercises may not be fat burners, they surely will help you acquire a healthy blood circulation, strengthen, and tone your muscles and spine, and keep you calm on a stressful day.
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