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Exercises You Can Do at the Office

Sitting all day is detrimental to your health. If you’ve seen friends or co-workers getting “standing desks,” then they’ve probably been told that sitting all day can slowly kill them. But it’s true, there are some truly adverse effects that happen from sitting down all day. It might seem like an exaggeration, but you can risk high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, premature death, and certain types of cancer. One of the reasons is because you burn fewer calories sitting down. Experts recommend moving every 20 to 30 minutes, but what if you’re too busy at the office for a quick stretch break? And no, trips to the bathroom and kitchen don’t count.

You don’t need to do laps around the office or run up and down the building stairwell. To combat the health risks of sitting down all day, it’s a matter of staying physically active. Fortunately, there are a number of discreet but effective exercises you can perform right from the convenience of your desk. The only equipment you’ll need is your office chair and dumbbells or a full water bottle.

Wrist Stretches

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If you’re clicking and typing away all day, make sure your fingers and hands don’t end up stiff. Extend one arm in front, palm up and take the fingers with your other hand. Gently pull back your fingers towards you, stretching your forearm. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat with your other wrist. You can also press your hands together in front of your chest with your arms and elbows parallel to the floor. Bend your wrists to the right and to the left 10 times.

Lower Back Stretch

Prone to slouching? Take the strain off your spine. Sit tall and place your left arm behind your left hip. Gently twist to the left. Use your right hand to deepen the stretch and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Leg Exercises

If you’re feeling a little wobbly when you get up after hours and hours of sitting, take a moment to get the blood flowing in your legs. Sit tall and engage your core. Extend your left leg until it’s level with your hip and squeeze your quadriceps. Hold this for two seconds, then lower. Repeat 16 times and then take it to the other side. You can also even throw in an inner thigh workout. Place a firm water bottle in between your knees and squeeze the bottle. Release your hold halfway and squeeze again. Complete 16 reps of slow pulses.

Squats and Dips

You might look a little funny doing these exercises, but you won’t be the one complaining about a sore butt later! Just be sure you keep your chair stable. To do a chair squat, lift up your hips just hovering over the chair with your arms out for balance. Hold this for 2 to 3 seconds. Stand all the way up. Repeat this for 15 reps. To do a dip, place your hands next your hips. Move your hips in front of the char and bend back the elbows while holding onto the chair. Lower your body until your elbows are out at 90 degrees. Push back and return to starting position. Do 15 reps.

Weights

You can stash a dumbbell or two in your drawer or underneath your desk, but if that’s not possible, a full water bottle will do in a pinch. You can first try a bit of weight training with your arms. To do a bicep curl, hold your dumbbell in your right hand, making sure your core is engaged and your spine is straight. Curl the dumbbell towards your shoulder. Repeat 15 times and do the same with your left side. Ab exercises are also totally possible behind your desk. Hold your dumbbell at chest level. Keep your knees and hips forward. Gently twist as far as you can (whilst sitting ‘tall’) and feel your abs stretch. Twist back to the centre and move to the left. Repeat 10 times.

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Be Kind to Your Back

At least once in our lives we’ve been told, “Back straight! Shoulders back!” as a way of correcting our poor posture. However, proper back health and correct posture is more than that. Good posture and a good back also have a lot more to offer us than the appearance of confidence. Whether you’re a fitness pro, an athlete or someone who’s just keen on making sure they’re in good shape, not enough importance is placed on having a strong back.

We take our backs for granted every day. All day, we hop from one seat to another–the car, the bus, the train, the office, the couch, the bed. The times we do get to walk, we’re probably balancing a heavy handbag or backpack or not noticing that we’re slouching as we’re in a rush. The matter of “good” and “bad” posture is not entirely simple. In fact, according to experts, there are five types of postures:

  1. Kyphosis is where the head is in forward position and the shoulders and upper back are rounded.
  2. Lordosis involves an exaggerated lumbar (lower back) curve with the shoulders pulled back too slightly.
  3. Sway back is when the body is actually tilting backwards.
  4. Forward head posture is where the head and cervical spine shift forward.
  5. Correct posture is when the shoulders and hips are aligned and the ear aligns with the shoulder down to the hip and ankle bone.

Now, you’re probably wondering how is it you can be mindful whether your ears and and hips and ankle bones are perfectly aligned at all times? Achieving correct posture seems like a tricky balancing act, but it’s achievable. When standing with good posture, you should be able to draw an imaginary straight line from your earlobe through your shoulder, hip, knee and the middle of your ankle. Meanwhile, good sitting posture means having your back straight and buttocks at the back of your chair with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent at a right angle.

The most common reason we’re given when advised to fix our posture is that it will make us look more attractive and confident. Of course, attraction and confidence don’t lie solely on physical appearance, but there is value in this. Non-verbal cues make up 85 percent of everyday communication, so even when you’re feeling unsure, you can at least make it seem like you are with the simple act of correcting your posture.

personal training toowongYour posture impacts your strength, no matter how much training you undergo. When we slump or slouch, the shoulder stabilisers fail and the chest and core drop. Even our breathing is affected by posture. Good posture opens the airways in our bodies, allowing for enhanced oxygen flow. This is why exercises such as yoga, Pilates and meditation place a lot of emphasis on breathing and posture. When you breath properly, you increase your concentration and thinking abilities as well. The more oxygen we get, the better.

The course to correcting your posture involves both physical and mental strategies. You may practice back-strengthening exercises at the gym, but keeping your posture in check whether you’re at work, play or rest requires a little more attention.