Recent studies have shown that long periods of inactivity are very unhealthy for an individual. In fact, sitting still for long periods of time can even cancel out the effects of good exercise. A March 2012 study of 220,000 adults by the Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who sat for eight hours or more a day had a 15 percent greater risk of dying within three years, than those that sat for less than 4 hours a day. The study found that those who sit for 11 hours or more during the day have a 40 percent greater likelihood of early death compared to those who sat for four hours or less throughout the day.
This is not good news for the billions of people with a desk job. Studies have found that the average American sits for at least 8 hours a day and that any movement to interrupt prolonged periods of sitting does a body good. While the initial thought of exercising at work seems daunting, there are plenty of low level ways to keep active throughout the day and not even break a sweat.
1. Ab Squeezes. Ab squeezes are an isometric exercise that can be done while sitting. Contract your abs and make them as hard as you can. Hold it for a second or two and then release. Do several repetitions.
2. Stand up. While on the phone, stand up. If you’re standing up you are more likely to move around the office and reduce your amount of inactivity.
3. Sit on an exercise ball at your desk instead of a chair. With your knees and hips at a ninety degree angle, maintaining one’s balance sitting on a big exercise ball will work your abs, pelvis, back, and hips. There are chairs made with an exercise ball to sit on instead of a traditional cushion, as well!
4. Squeeze stress balls. Stress on top of inactivity is very unhealthy for a person. Grab a stress ball or two and squeeze and release them. Hold them in your outstretched arms and squeeze them while you move your arms in a circle. The act of squeezing will leave you less tense and circling your arms exercises your shoulder and pectoral muscles.
5. Take the stairs. Instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs to your office. Walking up the stairs is likely one of the best calorie burners you can do while at work. Take the stairs whenever you can. Walk up the stairs to go to the bathroom on a different level of your office building, etc.
6. Crunches. Traditionally crunches are done on the floor, but you can also do them from a seated position in a chair. Sit straight with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Put your hands on the sides of your head and curl your body downward. Squeeze your abs, rise up and repeat.
7. Pump your fists in the air rapidly, like a boxer for thirty seconds. Hold something in your hands, like a paperweight or bottle of water while you do this for extra effect. Then tap your feet on the floor rapidly, like a football ball drill, for 30 seconds. Repeat these activities 3 to 5 times.
8. Stand beside your desk, look at the clock, and do jumping jacks for one or two minutes. Do this every hour you’re at work.
9. Sit in your chair with your legs straight out and unsupported. Hold for as long as you can, then slowly put them down, keeping the tension in your abdomen. Repeat.
10. Sit in your chair with your legs crossed and your feet on the seat. Place your hands on the armrests, suck in your gut and raise yourself a few inches above the seat, using your belly, muscles and hands. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat five times.
Get creative with your office exercises. Get your co-workers involved. Be mindful of your inactivity throughout the day and be proactive in keeping your body moving. What are some exercises you do while at your desk?