Exercises You Can Do at Your Desk to Promote Better Health
Sitting and working at a desk almost every day can wreak havoc on the body. It puts stress and strain on your back, neck, legs, shoulders, and wrists. Not to mention, it weakens muscles and joints in these areas. Moreover, prolonged sitting makes joints and muscles susceptible to injury, causes certain injuries, increases fatigue, and can contribute to stress.
Fortunately, there are two major ways to combat these issues: 1) use ergonomic furniture and practices, and 2) exercise at your desk. To improve health and safety, these two factors should be combined. Purchasing furniture is simple, but finding the right exercises to perform at your desk takes a bit more work and ingenuity. Here’s a detailed list that could help.
Seated Leg Raises
Standing up to exercise isn’t always an option, unless you have a standing desk, such as a radiology reading desk.Luckily, there are some effective exercises that can be done from the seated position. Seated leg raises get the blood flowing in your legs, while improving their strength and flexibility. These exercises are also good for the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Simply follow these steps to get going:
Sit straight up in your chair.
Straighten one leg until it’s parallel to the floor, hold the position for 10 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
Repeat the above exercise for 15 repetitions per leg.
Add (very) light leg weights when the exercise becomes too easy.
Other seated leg exercises can be used to target other areas of the leg. For example, hamstring stretches focus specifically on the hamstrings, while hip and knee flexion exercises stretch the hips and knees. Although seated leg stretches are effective, there are some leg exercises that can’t be done from the seated position, including calf raises, lunges, high knees, and squats. When combined, these exercises can strengthen your legs, improve blood flow, and reduce the risk of injury.
It’s common to carry tension and stress in the neck. Prolonged sitting exacerbates this by putting pressure on the neck and spinal nerves. Thus, it facilitates additional strain and can cause chronic nerve conditions. Neck strain and pressure also cause chronic headaches, stiffness, nerve pain or injury, loss of range-of-motion in the head and neck, general neck pain, and occasional migraines. However, regular stretching can eliminate strain from the neck, build strength to better support the head, and improve posture, flexibility, and range-of-motion. Neck stretches are also relaxing and can alleviate pain. To perform an effective, relaxing neck stretch:
- Lean your head forward.
- Slowly roll it to one side, hold for 10 seconds, and repeat on the other side.
- Perform the exercise three times in every direction.
- Lift your chin back to the starting position before changing direction.
You can also stretch the neck by pulling your head toward your shoulders on each side and holding for 10 to 15 seconds. Moreover, certain yoga poses can improve neck health for anyone who sits for long periods.
Leaning Plank and Core Exercises for your Health
Your core, made up of the hips, back, chest, and abs, is perhaps the most important part of your body. It ensures your body remains stable and facilitates proper balance. Most importantly, the core supports your entire body and is paramount to normal physical functioning. Core exercises strengthen the lower back, pelvis, abdomen, and hips. This strengthening is necessary for those who sit for most of the day. The exercises can improve posture, eliminate pressure on the neck and spine, and reduce back pain. Plus, core stretches and exercises target and strengthen other areas of the body. Exercises like the leaning plank and chair dips also target the arms and legs. Other core exercises you can perform in an office chair include trunk rotation, pectoralis stretch, and a forward stretch.
Wrist, Arm, and Shoulder Exercises
Typing for prolonged periods can put strain on the arms, shoulders, and wrists, especially if you have bad posture and don’t use ergonomics. The activity can also put you at high risk for developing certain conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Wrist stretches and other exercises help reduce this risk and even improve productivity. Latissimus stretches, pushups, and triceps stretches strengthen the arms and shoulders while improving flexibility. The stronger your arms are, the lower your risk of injury and pain.