We all know that sitting for long periods of time has a potentially negative impact on our health. But what happens when you have a busy office-based job and you find yourself glued to your desk or in meetings for up to nine hours a day, five days a week?
It can be difficult to think about your health and fitness when you’re bogged down with paperwork, emails and meetings, even when you work from home – but too much inactivity can lead to problems including diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
The set-up of your workstation can also be a contributing factor to musculoskeletal problems such as neck, back, shoulder and wrist pain, with incorrectly positioned desk equipment leading to bad posture and uncomfortable sitting positions.
That’s why it’s important to take a small amount of time out of your day to get moving, raise your heart rate as a way of staying on top of your fitness and make it a part of your day – even if you are in the office.
Here we have put together a list of the five best ‘deskercises’ which are all quick and simple, yet extremely effective in improving your health and even acting as a stress-buster. Better still, they can be done both in the office or at home. Win win, right?
1. Chair squats – simply stand up from your chair and lower back down, stopping right before you reach your chair. Keeping the weight on your heels will active the glutes and work your muscles harder. Repeat 10 times.
2. Walking up and down stairs – this sounds simple because it is! A great exercise to get your heart pumping and your cardiovascular system working. You could go for 40-second intervals, to begin with, repeating five times, increasing the duration as you feel your fitness levels improve.
3. Wall or desk press-ups – stand a few steps away from either your desk or the wall for support and place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower your body down, keeping your core tight and your body in a straight line. Then push yourself back up until your arms are straight but without locking your elbows. Repeat 10 times.
4. Marching on the spot – a slightly more gentle cardio exercise, but a great way of moving your muscles and getting the blood pumping at the same time. Aim to start at doing this for around 40 seconds before resting, then repeat five times.
5. Skipping – skipping is another fantastic cardio exercise and done for just 10 minutes a day is equivalent to 30 minutes of jogging. If you have limited space you can even do it without a rope, mimicking the movements you would do if holding a rope. Skip for around 20 seconds when you are first starting out, repeat it five times with a short rest in between.
These exercises can also be grouped together as sets. For example, you could do 20 seconds of skipping, followed by a short rest then 40 seconds of marching on the spot and repeat this sequence five times. You can then look to increase the repetitions until you reach 10 minutes. To make it harder, up your skipping duration to 30 seconds, then reduce the rest time before moving on to marching on the spot. This is a great way to see your fitness levels improving as you start to find you can keep going for longer!
Whilst doing all these exercises and any others you may choose to try, make sure you wear appropriate footwear so you are comfortable and to help avoid injury or slips.
For more ideas about how you can keep muscle aches and pains at bay when working for long periods at your desk, you can check out our blog about simple desk-based stretches.
Also, if you’re looking for some advice on how to stay comfortable whilst working from home, have a read of our top five tips here.
Disclaimer: the exercises above have been provided as only as a guide. If you are embarking on a new programme of exercises, you should consult with a GP or physiotherapist for tailored advice and support specific to your needs.