So many people spend long hours in computer chairs staring at screens and not otherwise moving all that much, and if you’re among this demographic, you may want to consider working out at your desk. Exercising is the key to good health and a long life, but it can be difficult to get in the 2 1/2 hours of weekly moderate exercise the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended for adults, especially if you have to work overtime or have other obligations. In addition to cardiovascular exercise, the CDC touted the benefits of muscle-strengthening, suggesting that in addition to the cardio, you should work your major muscle groups at least twice a week to stay healthy and strong.
Taking walks during your lunch break can aid in your cardio workout efforts, but did you know you can also take care of your muscles while you work? Check out these exercises that you can do while you’re typing up memos and answering emails:
For your core
You don’t need to sit on an exercise ball all day to work your core muscles. The “Magic Carpet Ride” highlighted by Forbes magazine targets these muscles as well as your arms. Cross your legs underneath you on the seat, grip the armrests firmly and push to lift yourself up off of the chair. Hold for 10 seconds – or 20 if you want more of a challenge – and then rest for 30 seconds. Do this five times and you’ll feel the burn in your arms, hands and abdomen.
For your legs
Getting up and walking around is a great way to stretch your leg muscles. You can also simply stand up and sit back down 10 times in a row a few times throughout the day. You might get some strange looks from coworkers, but your thigh muscles will thank you for doing this squat variant recommended by Military.com.
For your arms
This subtle exercise is easy to do and feels great. Shrug your shoulders as far up as they’ll go, then slowly rotate them forward. Repeat the process, going backward. Roll them in each direction 10 times. You can also grab a dumbell and do bicep curls while talking on the phone, or lean against your desk for some incline pushups.
Keep in mind
No matter where you are, form is key to getting the most out of your workout and avoiding injury. Jason Queiros, a chiropractor, told Forbes that the way you sit can make all the difference.
“It’s important that your desk chair be at the proper height to reduce strain on your neck and back.The chair provides the support for you body throughout the day,” he explained to the source. “Adjust the height so you’re in a 90-90-90 position – feet flat on the floor or on a foot rest and your knees and hips bent at 90-degree angles.”
Queiros also indicated that you should also maintain the correct posture, and you can do this by pressing your lower back into the backrest. And don’t forget to stretch. Doing so before and after you embark on your desk-side exercises will warm up and cool down your muscles to prevent injury. You can also stretch throughout the day to relieve tension and keep your body from feeling too sore from sitting in the same position all day long. Stretch your neck by lowering it toward each shoulder and holding the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Military.com recommended going very slowly, as this part of the body is much more susceptible to injury than others.