Office Workouts – Quick and Effective Exercises To Do at Work

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Working in an office all day is no excuse not to be active. While the exercises listed below aren’t substitutions for time well spent in a fitness center, they are designed to reduce the physical toll our bodies receive from sitting for 7, 8, or more hours each day. They will help lessen the tightness of our muscles and the stiffness of our necks, and assist us in focusing on our posture.

Some suggestions are to:

  • Bring athletic shoes to walk in during lunch, or before/after work if you take the bus or are in a carpool which requires you to be at work for several minutes before or after your shift. Walk around the block, in the parking lot, to and from a nearby store; take the stairs instead of the elevator; walk to a co-worker’s desk to talk face-to-face instead of sending an email, making a phone call, or instant messaging your neighbor. Walk to the copier. Walk to the fax machine. Use a restroom on another floor and take the stairs to/from it.
  • Every hour or so, get up and walk around to prevent your muscles from getting stiff.
  • Use a pedometer. Aim for 10,000 steps a day.
  • Swap out your office chair for a balance ball chair. It will help you sit with proper posture and strengthen your core. Make sure your Human Resources department approves it before doing so.
  • During a break or at lunch, perform some simple stretches and/or exercises. They can be done at your desk, or if you prefer, in an unoccupied conference room.

Examples of stretches are:

  • Neck – with arms hanging down at your sides, palms facing forward, fingers extended toward floor, slowly tilt head toward left shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds. Return to starting position and then tilt head toward right shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds. Return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.
  • Wrist – extend one arm in front of you with palm up. Grab the fingers with your other hand and gently pull them toward you, stretching the forearm. Hold 20 – 25 seconds. Repeat with the other arm.
  • Wrist and Forearm – place your hands palm to palm in front of chest, with lower arms parallel to the ground, and elbows sticking out. Gently bend wrists to left and then to right. Repeat 10 – 15 times.
  • Lower Back – sit tall with your feet flat on the floor. Place left palm behind left hip. Gently twist to the left. Place right palm over left palm and slowly push to deepen the stretch. Hold 20 – 25 seconds. Repeat on other side.
  • Core – hold water bottle with both hands and extend arms straight over head. Gently bend toward the left, contracting the abs. Hold 2-3 seconds. Return to center. Repeat to right side. Repeat 10 – 15 times.

Examples of exercises are:

Upper Body

  • Bicep curl – stand with back straight, shoulders back, and arms down at sides, or sit tall, abs pulled in, and feet flat on floor. Place one dumbbell or water bottle in each hand. Curl dumbbells or bottles toward shoulder, hold for a split second, then slowly lower to starting position. Repeat 10 – 15 times.
  • Front raise – sit tall, abs pulled in, and feet flat on floor. Let arms hang straight down with a dumbbell or water bottle in each hand. With arms straight but not locked, and palm down, lift arms in front of you until they are parallel to the ground. Do not raise them above your shoulder. Hold for a split second, and then slowly lower to starting position. Repeat 10 – 15 times.
  • Lateral raise – sit tall, abs pulled in, and feet flat on floor. Let arms hang straight down with a dumbbell or water bottle in each hand. With arms straight but not locked, and palm down, lift arms to your sides until they are parallel to the ground. Do not raise them above your shoulder. Hold it for a split second, and then slowly lower to starting position. Repeat 10 – 15 times.
  • Shoulder press – sit tall, abs pulled in, and feet flat on floor. Let arms hang straight down with a dumbbell or water bottle in each hand. Lift dumbbell or bottle to shoulder level, pause, and then press it up over your head. Hold for a split second and then slowly lower to shoulder level. Repeat 10 – 15 times.
  • Triceps extension – sit tall, abs pulled in, and feet flat on floor. Let arms hang straight down with a dumbbell or water bottle in left hand. Press dumbbell or bottle over your head, with your palm facing in. Keep upper arm still and bend at elbow, allowing the weight to slowly drop behind you. Hold for a split second and then press it back up over your head. Repeat 10 – 15 times. Repeat with right arm.
  • Dip – sitting in a sturdy chair that is not on wheels, place hands on seat of chair next to hips. Move hips to the front edge of chair and bend elbows. Lower body until elbows are at 90 degrees. Push back up to starting position. Repeat 10 – 15 times.

Lower Body

  • Hip flexion – sit tall with abdominal muscles pulled in, knees bent, and feet flat on floor. Lift left foot 4 – 8″ off floor. Hold for 2 – 3 seconds and then lower. Repeat 15 – 20 times. Repeat with right leg.
  • Leg extension – sit tall with abs pulled in, knees bent, and feet flat on floor. Extend left leg until it is parallel to ground. Squeeze the quadriceps. Hold for 2 – 3 seconds and then lower. Repeat 15 – 20 times. Repeat with right leg.
  • Inner thigh – sit tall with abs pulled in, knees bent, and feet flat on floor. Place a rolled up towel or empty coffee cup between knees. Squeeze towel or cup, release halfway, and squeeze again. Slowly repeat 15 – 20 times.
  • Calf raise – sit tall with abs pulled in, knees bent, and feet flat on floor. Keep toes on floor and raise heels up, squeezing calf muscle. Hold for 2 – 3 seconds and then lower. Repeat 15 – 20 times.
  • Chair squat – while sitting and with feet parallel to each other and flat on floor, lift up until your hips are hovering over the chair, with arms extended forward for balance. Hold 2 – 3 seconds. Stand up. Sit back down and repeat 15 – 20 times.
  • One-legged squat – while sitting and with one foot slightly in front of the other, lift up on one foot until your hips are hovering over the chair, with arms extended forward for balance. Hold 2 – 3 seconds. Stand up. Sit back down and repeat 15 – 20 times.

Track your progress. Tell your co-workers what you are doing and try to “buddy up”. You can take walks together, and give each other support and accountability. Not to mention that a little competition is healthy too.

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About Author

Sharon Chamberlin

From an early age, Sharon was encouraged to participate in competitive sports including soccer, basketball, track, softball, and volleyball. She has been an athlete and fitness enthusiast ever since. She explains that her parents instilled in her a level of self-confidence that has touched everything she does. See my profile page for more information!

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