Deskercise your way to health

Exercise at your desk
By Alex Burden, Student Blog

7 December 2017

Have you calculated how much time you spend sitting down? In lessons, at work, in the car, on the bus, on the sofa, horizontally in bed – what would that number look like for you? Find out why it's important to keep moving, and how deskercising can add to your life.

Medical Journal, Circulation: Heart Failure, revealed that men who sit down for more than five hours a day have a 34% increased risk of heart failure despite any after-hours exercise. Never mind the insomnia, depression, cancer, and diabetes risks that accompany this. The Lancet agrees, finding that the risk of premature death rises by up to 60% for desk-bound staff.

But there's good news - further research conducted by the Texas A&M School of Public Health found that workers who had the option to use standing desks or similar equipment, were 46% more productive than those with standard sit-down desks.

75% of those participants who used the standing or adjustable desks reported a decrease in general body discomfort.

The six-month study concluded that there were numerous benefits to standing at work, including driving down costs for sick days (75% of those participants who used the standing or adjustable desks reported a decrease in general body discomfort).

The key appears to be continual movement during the day, but how can this be mixed with your everyday life? There are several small improvements and changes that you could be making right now. If you have a standing desk, make full use of it, otherwise look at taking opportunities to stand and walk around; visit the person you need to email in-house or offer to collect the mail for your floor. All you need is a few minutes every hour to stand up and stretch.

If you haven’t already completed a health assessment for your desk, practice getting your posture right. Your feet, hips and arms should be at 90-degree angles to the floor at all times with the right chair and desk adjustments – pull those stomach muscles in and roll back those shoulders.

Try these ten tips to edge your way towards office-based exercise without the potentially embarrassing lycra. Repeat in reps of five to 20 for maximum effect.

1. Printer Gym

We can end up spending inordinate amounts of time waiting for the printer to release our documents, but you can also use this time to stretch your legs. Stand with your feet in-line with your shoulders and move on to your tiptoes – hold this for a couple of seconds then lower back down. Repeat until printing has ended.

2. Desk crunches

This can be done almost anywhere. Breathe in and tighten your stomach muscles for ten seconds, and aim to pull them towards your spine as you exhale. You can really feel the tightening!

3. Tension crunch

This is ideal when doing some reading: rest your elbows on your thighs, and slowly try to move your chest towards your legs, holding it there for ten seconds – use your arms for resistance. The idea is to achieve isometric crunches with minimal movement.

4. Maximum glutes

There’s no other way to say this – squeeze your gluteus maximus’ together for five to ten seconds and release. It’s as simple as that and will do wonders for toning your, ahem, glutes.

5. Stationery biceps

Again, this can be done while sitting at your desk, and just involves your stapler! Hold the stapler, palm facing upwards, resting on your leg. Bend your elbow and curl your arm towards your chest. Objects don’t need to be heavy to keep you toned and increase circulation.

6. The office tap dance

Sit with your legs on the floor, and tap your feet as fast as you can; feel that stretch as you point your toes upwards and downwards. If you feel this will cause too much noise or are looking for something a bit tougher, try raising your legs off the ground and pointing your feet in mid-air.

7. Shoulder stretch

Roll your shoulders behind you, as if trying to touch your shoulder blades together. Hold for five to ten seconds then release.

8. Seal the deal

Shake hands with yourself with one thumb pointing upwards, and one pointing downwards, and attempt to pull your hands apart. The trick is to hold your grip for ten seconds while trying to separate your hands, which will translate to excellent bicep exercise.

9. Secret seat-exerciser

This exercise is performed standing up, holding onto a chair for support. Try and raise one heel towards the back of your thigh, hold it for a second, then lower and repeat with the other leg. This can be executed while you’re talking to colleagues or on a quick coffee break using the worktop.

10. Desk can-can

We recommend that this exercise is executed in cubicles or with enough distance between you and your desk-neighbour opposite (unless you’re ok with potentially grazing their knees with your feet!). From your seat, straighten one or both legs in front of you (off the ground) and hold for five to ten seconds before lowering to the floor. Repeat as required.

Get involved

If you like these tips and want to encourage the rest of your office to get involved, send us your healthy workplace photos of stapler curls and printer stretches and we’ll feature them on the blog.


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