Many of us have jobs in which we spend a large amount of our day seated and working at a desk. This inevitably results in muscular stiffness, joint soreness and, almost certainly, lower back stress. These issues can be troubling for you in general, and inhibit your ability to work to the best of your abilities; it’s never easy doing anything when you’re uncomfortable and in pain.
We have devised a workout that you can perform whilst seated at your desk to enable you to strengthen your muscles, improve blood circulation, increase cardiovascular fitness and, importantly, to reduce stress levels. Imagine a day at work where you felt energised, fresh, mobile and stress-free. Hopefully, this workout can assist you in experiencing days just like that.
OFFICE WORKOUT – The Exercises:
This exercise is great for increasing circulation through your legs and lower back. In a seated position, brace your hands to the chair to ensure you are firmly balanced. Hold on tight (This strengthens your grip and involves your arms in the exercise). Squeeze your tummy tight so you can feel your abs engaged and ensure your body is stable (Full body muscular recruitment). Then raise one knee off the chair and whilst pushing your foot a few inches forwards, hold for 20 seconds, then slowly place the foot back down to the floor. Repeat 3 times on each leg, alternating legs between each repetition.
Begin this exercise in exactly the same manner as the previous exercise, engaging your arms and abdominals for stability. Once you have ensured you are stable, raise both legs off the ground, and straighten them out until they are only slightly bent. Then gently and smoothly kick them up and down, ensuring you aren’t going to make contact with your desk or injure yourself in any way. This exercise strengthens your deep core muscles, Quadriceps and Hamstrings. Perform 50 repetitions (25 each leg, alternating legs) for 3 sets.
Although the picture shows the example as standing, this exercise can be performed seated. All you are essentially doing is pulling your elbows backwards and then pumping them forwards and upwards in an uppercut motion, one arm at a time, alternating after each repetitions. This will engage the Triceps and Biceps, and also involves the Shoulder and Back muscles. This exercise is designed to stimulate blood circulation through the upper body. Perform 3 sets of 50 repetitions (25 on each side, alternating).
Although probably the most simple of all the exercises, arm rotations are in fact one of the most beneficial. With correct form, this exercise not only strengthens the upper body, but it can develop lean muscle and improve blood flow to the chest. Sit yourself as straight as possible with your feet planted firmly on he floor approximately shoulder width apart. Engage your abdominal muscles to support your spine and maximise muscular recruitment. Straighten your arms out laterally with your shoulder blades squeezed together to involve the back muscles (Rhomboids, Lats and Trapezius). Once in position rotate both arms simultaneously forwards for 20 repetitions, then backwards for 20 repetitions. Repeat this exercise in both directions 5 times.
Not a huge benefit to your circulation, but great for ensuring good blood flow through the lower legs and great mobility through the ankles, achilles tendon and calves, the calf raise is a great exercise to do whilst seated. Brace yourself in the same position you used for the previous lower body exercises with abs and arms engaged for stability and maximum muscular recruitment. This time, place your feet flat to the ground, directly beneath where your knees comfortably sit on the chair if you maintain correct form. Then push your heel upwards as high as possible whilst keeping your toes pressed firmly into the ground. This exercise develops muscular strength, endurance and tone through the calves, as well as the other stated benefits. Perform this exercise for 10 sets of 20 repetitions, with a 30-45 second rest between each set.
This exercise is excellent for expanding and opening the rib cage, reducing chest tightness and lack of breath. In the same seated position as your previous upper body exercise (Arm Rotations), spread your arms out as far back as your seat enables, simultaneously pushing your chest out forward, opening out your breastbone and increase the flow of oxygen through your lungs. This is a great time to grab a few deep breaths and fill your lungs up. After spreading your arms back (ensuring they remain at shoulder height through the movement) bring them back together, keeping your arms straight and pushing them out as far forward as you can to hold in a finishing position where your chest is tensed and strong. Repeat this movement for 5 sets of 10 repetitions, and remember to breathe throughout.
Sitting with your feet planted on the floor and your knees together, you back straight and your arms directly in front of you, bend forward at the hips, taking your shoulders past your knees and keeping you buttocks firmly pressed into the chair. Reverse the movement to return to the original position. This exercise engages the lower back muscle and abdominals, strengthening your core and trunk areas, resulting in less risk of back injury. It will also increase blood flow through the pelvic region and therefore improve circulation in the lower body. Perform 5 sets of 10 repetitions of tis exercise. For an easier alternative, completely flip the movement, and brace yourself to the seat, lifting your knees to your chest and lowering them.
Inadvisable if you are wearing a skirt or a dress, this exercise is excellent for developing the outer hips and inner thigh muscles. This will increase stability around your trunk, reduce risk of injury when rotating and moving sharply sideways, and significantly increase blood flow through the lower body. Once again, brace yourself firmly to the seat by engaging your abs and gripping either side of the seat firmly with straight arms. This stability will reduce the risk of injury and also maximise muscular recruitment meaning better muscular development, increase circulation and improvements in strength and tone. Raise your feet above the ground and ensuring you are in a stable position, spread your legs apart and squeeze them back together, keeping your feet above the ground throughout and your knees raised off the seat. Perform 5 sets of 20 repetitions.
Just so you know…
- We aren’t suggesting that you should try and work through this circuit of exercises every day; that would inhibit your productivity and efficiency and that’s not something anybody wants. Your aim at first would be to perform one of these exercises every single day, spreading each set throughout the day so not to over-strain yourself or get too hot and sweaty. This is about maintaining your muscles, improving circulation throughout your body, reducing fatigue and stress throughout the body, and invigorating and energising you with a steady release of endorphins as the day passes.
- If you are struggling to focus on a particular task, why not try a set of one of these exercises, focusing on perfect form and deep breathing throughout, and then readdress the task; you may find the exercises have relaxed your mind, energised you and prepared you to complete the task, and even if not, at least you have worked towards physically strengthening yourself.
- Remember, whenever you are exercising in any environment, it is essential to concentrate on breathing deeply, rhythmically and continuously throughout your session, maximising oxygen flowing into the body to ensure your muscles are well fuelled and reduce the risk of any lung, heart or brain stress.
- It is also important that throughout your day you remain well hydrated, with sips of water every 25-35 minutes. Never gulp huge volumes of water as it will become predominantly waste product and your body won’t be able to cope with it. Consistent, sustainable sipping is the answer to good hydration. Preferably, drink water, occasionally green tea, or freshly squeezed fruit juices but always water when you are performing any exercise.
REMEMBER: Always consult a medical professional before undertaking any physical activity out of the your normal routine to ensure you aren’t placing yourself at risk of injury, illness or physical damage, even something as tame as the Office Workout.
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