4 Quick Exercises to do in the Office
Credit: MrChrome via WikiCommons

If you have an office job, you are probably sitting for long periods of time during the day. Recent studies have suggested that prolonged sitting for 8 – 12 hours a day at a desk job, and later at home watching tv or eating dinner, actually does a lot of harm to the body and puts you at greater risk for a whole host of diseases.[1]  

People that sit a lot have been shown to have higher levels of triglycerides, blood sugar and are at greater risk of diabetes and heart disease.[1]

In fact, recent studies suggest that even if you have a workout schedule in the morning or evening at the gym, it is not enough to counterbalance the negative impact all of the sitting is having on your internal organs and systems.[2]

Our bodies were designed to move and that is what they did for thousands of years until the last century as more and more people have become urbanized and most earn some kind of living sitting behind a desk or a computer screen. While this makes a more comfortable life, it is certainly not a healthier one.

Health experts suggest that even small amounts of exercise throughout the day can help to reverse the damage that prolonged sitting causes. Obviously you cannot do a full and complex workout at your desk or your cubicle, but there are exercises you can do at work to get your heart rate elevated and your muscles engaged.

These are not complicated exercises and require no weights or special equipment. All of the typical things you think of like walking up some stairs or simply walking around the office halls once every hour apply also, however, there are more specialized exercises that you can do to keep yourself healthier. All you need is a little time and a little privacy if you can arrange it. You might feel a little dorky doing some of these types of exercises at work, but do it anyway.  Either do them at your desk or perhaps an empty conference room or an area just outside your office building if you are more comfortable there.

Here are four exercises to do at work.

Exercise at Work - Leg Extensions

These require no weights of course, but the idea is to extend your leg outward one at a time. Go almost parallel to the floor but do not lock your knee. Hold it for a few seconds and feel the muscle tightening, then release it slowly to the floor. Do the right leg for 10 reps, then switch to the left leg. Try to do two or three sets. They will go quickly.

Remember, you are not trying to become Mr. or Miss Atlas with these exercises, you are simply trying to ward off some of the damaging effects of sitting for long periods of time. You can do your major workout later at the gym.

Office Workout - The Chair Squat

How to do Chair SquatsCredit: w:en via Wikimedia CommonsPerforming a squat uses just about every muscle in your body so it is a great way to get a full body workout even without weights.

In fact, it is better not to use any weight because you can maintain your form consistently.

For this type of chair squat, start sitting down and then lift up and hold the position about halfway up. This is really a half squat.

After pausing for several seconds, lower yourself back down. Try not to touch the chair to maintain the burn. If not, go ahead and sit back down to momentarily relieve the stain on the muscles, but immediately rise again and hold.

Try to do 5 – 10 reps of these. Again, the idea is not to build muscle, but to get them engaged Do Office Chair SquatsCredit: w:en via Wikimedia Commonsand your systems moving.

Exercises at Your Desk - Chair Crunch

Sitting incorrectly at a desk all day, slumped over a computer can lead to back or neck pain at the end of each day. One of the ways to combat back pain is to have strong core muscles.

The idea for this exercise is to engage your core muscles in your abdomen, hold for a second, then release. You can do this several ways, but the basic idea is to sit in your chair at your desk, extend your arms outward and your arms over your head, then slowly tighten your abs and pull inward to form a crunch. Release back to the starting position with your legs and arms still extended and do it again. Try to do 10 reps. You can come back to this one for another set later after you do some twists.

Desk Stretches - Oblique Core Twists

When it comes to core exercises, a lot of people only think of their front, but your waist goes all the way around your body and those muscles need to be engaged periodically to help you maintain your shape and posture.

This exercise is a very good office ab workout. You can do these sitting in your chair or standing up. For added effect, try holding a water bottle in one hand as you slowly turn halfway to your right, then slowly turn halfway to your left. During the twist, try to contract your muscles through each rep. Do 10 reps for each side, then return to the chair crunch and do another set of those.

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Exercises at WorkRemember, these are easy exercises to do at work just to simple get your heart rate going  and move your muscles. While it may seem insignificant, researchers insist that small amounts of activity can make a huge difference in your health.

These activities will take just five minutes of your time, but are enough to break up the long, damaging sessions of sitting hunched over a computer.

When it comes to fitness, a little goes a long way and the key to staying fit is doing what you can, when you can, always finding ways to burn calories and keep your muscles working and flexible at all times.

These mini exercise sessions will tide you over until you can get to a gym and engage in a more involved workout.