Modern technology has given us so much—like the world at our fingertips and the ability to work anywhere. But sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day is not what our bodies need. Exercise and movement are important, but the reality is it’s not always possible to squeeze in between busy work and personal lives.
Enter: office athletics. Simple, easy exercises and stretches that you can incorporate throughout your workday to capture the benefits of movement.
And, as it turns out, May is Global Employee Health and Fitness Month—so, if that’s not a good time to start focusing on health and fitness at work, then we don’t know what is!
Why Movement Matters
We’ve all heard over and over again that exercise is important. But why? Here are a few reasons:
- Sitting too much is connected with conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
- Lack of exercise is related to high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Exercise can help reduce stress and increase relaxation.
- Physical activity has been shown to improve cognitive processing (i.e. focus, productivity).
- Simple movements like walking can increase creativity.
With benefits like this, we all need to get moving! And the good news is that you don’t need to be hitting the gym for two hours every day to get them. Studies show that even short spurts of activity can lead to health improvements.
So, we’ve rounded up ten simple things you can do to incorporate exercise into your workday.
10 Easy Exercises in the Office
Let’s start out with the simplest one: walking! Try to incorporate more walking throughout your day by:
- Getting up to speak with someone instead of messaging them.
- Taking a walk on your lunch break (you can add some extra incentive by walking to go get lunch at one of these best lunch spots within 10-minutes walk of Co-Balt).
- Going for a walking meeting instead of sitting.
Yoga is something you can do in the office because you just need a small space to roll out your mat and practice. Best of all, you don’t necessarily even need to break a sweat to do it.
There are tons of free resources on YouTube (like this one) with options for short 10 to 15 minute practices.
And if you don’t have a private office to use, just be mindful of your colleagues and surroundings and choose somewhere out of the way.
Directions: Find a solid wall with some extra space around you. Slide down the wall so your back is firmly against it and your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle as if you were sitting on something.
Duration/Reps: Hold the position for 30 seconds and then stand up. Repeat 10 times. Or, hold it for as long as you can for an extra challenge!
4. Arm pulses and arm circles
Directions: You can do this one right at your desk! Stand up with your arms at your sides, palms facing the back wall. Pulse your arms backward, keeping your arms straight and long. Then switch to arm circles—raise your arms straight out by your sides at shoulder height. Slowly move them in small circles.
Duration/Reps: Pulse for about 20-30 seconds, and then do 20 arm circles.
5. Calf raises
Directions: Another easy one at your desk, in a standing meeting, or when chatting with someone (just get ready for some potential weird looks!). When standing, slowly raise yourself up onto your toes and then back down again. You should feel a gentle stretch in the back of your calves.
Duration/Reps: Try for three sets of 10-15 reps.
6. Oblique twists
Directions: This one’s for people with swivel office chairs! Stay seated in your chair with your hands holding onto the desk. Raise your feet off the ground and then use the swivel function to twist from side to side.
Duration/Reps: Try to go back and forth between 15-20 times.
7. Lunges and squats
Directions: These two should get your heart rate up a bit! They can both be done near your desk, but make sure you have some room. Start a lunge in a standing position; then, step forward with one foot and bend both knees into 90-degree angles. Repeat on the other side.
For squats, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lower down, keeping the weight towards your heels and your back straight.
Duration/Reps: Complete 10 squats and 10 lunges on each side. Repeat as you’re able throughout the day.
8. Wall or desk pushups
Directions: If you’re able to do a full pushup, by all means, go for it! But if you’re not quite there yet, the wall or desk will be your new best friend! To complete a desk pushup, first, make sure it’s a sturdy surface that won’t move! Then place your hands on the desk, wider than your shoulders. Take a few steps back and lower yourself down with a straight back.
A wall pushup is the same, but doing it against a wall is less intense than the desk.
Duration/Reps: Try to complete at least 15 reps—more if you can!
9. Neck and shoulder rolls
Directions: This is perfect for relieving tension in your neck and upper back. Sit in your chair and slowly roll your head in circles, changing directions after a while. Then, roll your shoulders forwards and backwards. Make sure you are going slowly and really savoring that tension release!
Duration/Reps: Roll your neck and shoulders for 10-15 seconds each.
10. Wrist and ankle rotations
Directions: Similar to the last one, rolling out your wrists and ankles will help get the blood flowing and relieve tension. Wrist rolls are especially good if you type a lot! Start by straightening your arms out in front of you and then rotate your wrists, starting one way and then the other. For your ankles, straighten out your legs and do the same thing.
Duration/Reps: Do at least 10 clockwise and 10 counterclockwise for each wrist and ankle.
These ten exercises are just a starting point. Start small by choosing a few to incorporate into your day. Then, keep building on them. You’ll soon start to see positive impacts of increased focus, less stress and tension, and better overall health.
If you’re looking for a supportive and professional working environment, book a tour of Co-Balt today.