A sedentary lifestyle is associated with a higher risk of neck and back pain, frozen shoulder, and eye strain - all of which affect our quality of life and daily productivity. Extended periods of sitting is believed to contribute to poor blood circulation and a lower metabolism rate, which is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, mental disorders, and cardiovascular disease. According to World Health Organization, physical inactivity has become the 4th leading factor of global mortality after hypertension, tobacco use, and high blood sugar levels.
Healthy adults are advised to exercise at least 150 minutes per week. To gain most benefit, physical activity should involve moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, combined with muscle strengthening activity, such as lifting weights, or push ups. Remember, small daily actions add up, and although you may not feel the benefits right away, it’s proven that the more you move, the more health benefits you gain.
Since we spend most of our lives at work, often leaving little ‘me time’ outside of the office, we’ve put together 5 office friendly exercises to kick start your daily exercise routine. Here’s to sitting less and moving more!
1.Take a stand
If you are trying to lose weight or maintain ideal weight, standing burns more calories, compared to sitting, and helps tone your muscles. This also applies to your commute to work. Give your seat to those who need it more on the bus or train, park your car slightly further from your office, and do some extra walking. Getting up from your desk and walking around for 5-10 minutes for every hour of sitting time, could lower your risk of heart disease. Try this exercise if you’re looking for a more challenging stand.
You can even make standing a group thing. ‘Standing meetings’ are thought to be more productive and effective, cutting meeting times by 25%.
2. Desk-bound Move
For the time poor, there are exercises that can be done from your desk and chair. Desk push ups are a good way to get your circulation moving, and release built up tension in your neck, shoulders, and back. Standing, keep your feet together and place your palms on the desk, shoulder width apart. Keep your body straight, and elbows in, as you lower chest towards the desk, before pushing back to your starting position.
To give your legs a workout while you are seated, keeping your leg parallel to the ground, lift it up as high as you can, and hold for a few seconds. Repeat 5 times on each side. Knee raises are another exercise that can be done seated. Simply keep your knees parallel to each other, while bringing them towards your chest. This is a great one for strengthening your core.
3. Stretch it out
Neck and shoulder pain are the most common complaints among office workers. Regularly stretching your neck, shoulders and hands helps alleviate aches and pain. Ease shoulder pain and upper body tension by holding each side of the door frame your hands, and push your body out to stretch your chest and arms to ease your shoulder pain. Another good way to release tension is to rotate your head slowly clockwise, then anticlockwise, moving your ears towards your shoulders.
4. Work those legs
We’ve mentioned earlier that extended sitting times may contribute to poor circulation. Get your blood flowing with simple leg exercises, that also help to tone and strengthen your legs. While standing, lift your leg at least 45 degrees to the side, and return to starting position. Repeat five times on each side. Using a resistance band will raise the level of your workout.
5. Don't Stare
Focusing on your computer screen the entire day may lead to various eye problems, such as dry eyes, eye strain, and eye damage. A useful way to combat eye strain and preserve eye health is to use the “20-20-20 rule”. For every 20 minutes you are on the computer, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Blinking your eyes regularly promotes tear production, and prevents dry eyes.
Other ways to take care of your physical health at the office it so ensure that you are well hydrated, ensure that you have a good sitting posture, and replacing the usual pantry tidbits with healthier snacks, such as nuts, fruits, and low sugar treats. Start by making one to two small changes in your day, and you will notice the improvement!
Pharmacist and formulator. Passionate about making a difference in healthcare and personal wellness through nutrition.