Work took away your workout? Office exercises you can do at your desk

Work took away your workout? Office exercises you can do at your desk

Did you start today with the best intentions to obtain your recommended 30 minutes per day of exercise? And then a work crisis derailed your plans? Don’t worry, we’ve got some strategies to help restore your aims and save you from guilt.

Why you need to stop sitting

The sad reality today is that many of us spend the better part of our day, week and year sitting in a desk chair.  If you’re a typical Australian, your day probably looks a bit like this - you sit on your way to work (car, bus, train or ferry), sit all day at your desk, sit while eating your lunch, sit on the way home, and then sit in front of a screen at night.  Research from Get Australia Standing shows that Aussie’s spend on average 10 hours a day sitting.

And even if you do regularly exercise, chances are that it’s not enough to counteract the negative effects of sitting too much.  Unfortunately, anything over 4 hours a day of sedentary behaviour is bad news for your health.  Prolonged sitting is linked to increased risk of a number of health conditions, such as back pain, osteoarthritis, weight gain, muscle degeneration, cardiovascular issues, cancer risk and diabetes risk.

When it comes to getting that 30 minutes of physical activity per day, the positive news is that it doesn’t have to be consecutive minutes and nor does it need to be hard-core workouts.  So if you’ve missed your gym workout or run, then it is possible to make amends during office hours.

Deskercises for the discreet employee

While the following deskercises fall more in the category of movement than exercise, what they will do is counteract all that sitting, get your circulation going and stretch out muscles you didn’t even realise you’d been holding tense.

These discreet moves and desk stretches are perfect for the person who doesn’t like to draw attention to themselves as they can be done from the comfort of your own cubicle.

Ballet toes – pop your legs out straight and point and flex those tootsies.

Shoulder rolls – forwards, backwards and why not throw in some up/downs too.

Head bends – stretch your neck by tipping your head gentry from side to side and then turning left and right. Hold each stretch for 10 seconds at least.

Glute stretch – put your left foot on your right knee and press your left knee down gently and hold, then swap legs.

Chest and shoulder stretch – clasp your hands together behind your back and squeeze your shoulder blades. Good for reversing the hunch that happens from sitting at a computer and an easy desk stretch.

Kegels – also known as pelvic floor exercises, these babies will help your bladder, bowel and even your performance in the bedroom!

Calf raises – perfect for when you’re standing by the printer or waiting for the kettle to boil, some simple up and downs on your toes will stretch out the muscles in your feet and can be an easy desk exercise.

If you’re the type to immerse yourself in a project and not come up for air for hours, then create one of those annoying pop ups on your calendar to coax you out of your chair every hour to at least get some desk stretches in.

Not so discreet exercise at work & in your lunchbreak

If your aim is to clock up even more moves on that step counter, then there are a tonne of other indoor exercises you can do but they’d hardly be hidden from the boss! Check out this post on the best indoor circuit that doesn’t require any equipment.

Here are some other top ideas that you can incorporate into your working day:

- Stairs – whether you have to visit a colleague on level 24, take a trip to the loo or just head out for lunch, taking the stairs is the way to go.  You can even include a few extra flights for good measure and to get that heart rate up.
- Leg power - Jump off that bus one stop early or if sweat before work is not your thing, then think about packing your flats and walking an extra stop on your way home.
- Standing desk – if this is an option for you, then we highly recommend alternating between sitting and standing as you’ll use different muscles and prevent too much sedentary time.
- Walk don’t dial – visit a colleague to have that chat face to face instead of picking up the phone or punching out yet another email.  In this technological time we live in, the interaction with a real person will also do you the world of good.
- Try a walking meeting – why not tackle the big issues while strolling round the block?  The movement and fresh air will help clarify your thinking too!

The take home message here is to keep moving and limit sitting. If work’s too hectic and you can’t get to the gym, then try throwing in some office exercises that are light or moderate alternatives during work hours.  Not only will you physically feel better but it will do wonders for your mental health, concentration and productivity too. 

And with our gourmet range of healthy prepared meals you can look forward to each day knowing that no matter what happens (or doesn’t), at least your diet is delicious.