It can feel impossible to squeeze exercise into your day, especially when the mornings are stressful and rushed, or maybe you’re someone who likes to sleep in. If you are finding it difficult to add exercise to your routine every day, then you might need to start thinking about exercising while at your desk.
According to one analysis, It is estimated that the Australian population spends 80% of their working hours seated, most Australian adults sit for 8 to 10 hours per day. Some of the effects of sitting too long can be that your muscles and bones can weaken, you might have poorer blood circulation, or your energy levels can plummet from lack of physical activity.
Whether at an office or home, most people must go to work every day but a little exercise at the desk can make a big difference.
Read on to learn more about the best exercises to do while working.
Why does sitting at a desk cause back pain?
When you sit all day at a desk, your muscles adapt and want to stay in that position. One of the main changes can be that your hip flexors and hamstrings will get tight in your lower body, and this can likely pull on your low back muscles and cause chronic pain. The upper back can be in trouble too, because when your head shoots forward, and your shoulders can be rounded forward, this will tighten your chest and front of your neck.
Our bodies thrive on movement and exercise, and it isn’t easy to get adequate amounts when working at a desk for eight to ten hours straight.
How often should I get up from my desk?
If you don’t have time for exercises at your desk, at the very least, you should be standing and moving around often. It is recommended that you get up for a quick stretch every half an hour. If you also add your essential walks to the bathroom or go to get a drink of water, you will find the time you will be moving will slowly increase. If you can go for a walk on your lunch break, it will not only get the blood moving but you will also reap the benefits of nature and have more energy to face the rest of the day. Make sure to set a timer or reminder. There are a few apps like Offit that can be purchased to help you get into the habit of moving every hour.
How can I strengthen my back?
The best exercises to do at a desk involve strengthening the back of your body. For your upper body, try leaning against a wall with the back of your hands against the wall and by your side. Imagine what making a snow angel looks like and mimic that movement on the wall. Do 1-3 sets of 10-15 reps, focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together and keeping the backs of your hands on the wall.
For your lower body, lunges are great for the hamstrings and glutes. Or a standard squat can be effective. Try the same set and rep range, 1-3 sets of 10-15 lunges on each side or 1-3 sets of 10 squats.
Stretch & Relax
Stretching and relaxing the neck, hip flexors, and pecs can prevent them from getting tight from prolonged sitting. Stretching, relaxing, and strengthening exercises, is effective ways to get in some movement and counteract the negative effect of sitting.
Doorway Pec Stretch
Find a doorway and place your elbows and forearms on either side of the door frame. Step forward while keeping your forearms and elbows on the doorframe until you feel a gentle pull through the front of your chest and shoulders. Take three deep breaths focusing on relaxing as you do so and then take a break. Repeat 2-3 times.
Start by going into a cervical retraction (see below), but then slowly look up as high as you can comfortably. Hold for 2-3 seconds at the top and then slowly come down. Maintain the retracted head position to the best of your ability throughout the exercise. Repeat 5-10 times for 2-3 sets.
Think about desks
It can be helpful when exercising at your desk to have a few pieces of equipment that can assist you. One recommendation is to keep a set of resistance bands in a desk drawer. This will allow you to significantly expand the number of exercises you can do right at your desk. Just using a resistance band will expand the number of muscles that you can exercise, even in the limited space that you have in the office.
Another option, if you are working at home, is to purchase a desk that converts to a standing desk. Then you can do your work both sitting and standing throughout the day. Other than a new desk, using a physioball as a chair will force you to move around a little and remind you to sit up tall and engage your core throughout the day. If you have a spacious office where you can bring in bigger exercise equipment, then a treadmill near your desk can be easily used while watching a training video.
Just remember, the best thing to do is to keep moving!!!