We live in a time where most of our lives are spent sitting. We sit at a desk, on the couch, or in a car most of the day. Sitting too much has become a health hazard. Research links sitting for long periods to obesity, heart disease and chronic back pain. When you’re working from your laptop, it’s easy for hours to pass by without even noticing. I noticed that ever since I started writing, I could sit for 4 hours at a time at my desk without moving anything except for my hands and fingers over the keyboard. There was also a significant decrease in the amount of exercise I was getting because I never wanted to be pulled away from what I was working on. It’s recommended to get up and move around for 5 minutes every half hour or so. Getting your blood flowing and activating systems in your body that lay dormant when sitting and not moving prevents pain and disease from taking over. Here is a 5-minute routine you can do right at your own desk to help keep you healthy.
Squats– Whenever I teach squats in my classes, I always tell my clients to “sit in an imaginary chair.” With a real chair behind you, you can use it for a true squat, which strengthens the glutes and thighs. Standing up in front of your chair, squat back and down so that your knees do not hinge forward over your toes. Depending on the height of your chair and your hip flexibility, you can try to tap your butt on the seat of the chair before squeezing your glutes to come back up to a standing position. Make sure your body weight is on your heels and you are pulling your abdominals in the entire time. Do 10-20. To really challenge yourself, you can try doing single leg squats, which work your legs, balance, and core control even more.
Single Leg Lifts– With knees bent all day long, these are good for reversing that position and strengthening some of the muscles surrounding the knee joint. It will also work your transverse abdominals as you learn to lift your leg from your abs. Sitting down upright towards the edge of your chair, straighten one leg to hip height about 5 times. Keep it straight as you squeeze your quadricep, the muscle above your knee on the top of your thigh. Engage your abs as you do slow leg lifts with the straight leg using your abs and quad to get the leg up. Do 15 on each leg.
Arm Series– This series of arm exercises can be done with small weights or none at all. Start with your arms out straight in front of you. Do small controlled circles in one direction 10 times and then repeat in the other direction for 10 more. Bring your arms out to the side and do 10 small circles in each direction. Bring your arms into a goal post position, bending the elbows to 90 degrees and squeeze your elbows together for ten reps. Hold your arms at 90 degrees in front of you and pulse your arms up and down in front of you without lifting your shoulders 10 times. Every move should be done back to back without a break for a real burn!
Wrist Stretch– When typing on a laptop for hours every day, we really need to stretch our wrists. Stretches like this one are the best for preventing problems like carpal tunnel. While sitting down, stretch one hand out in front of you with your palm facing up. Take your free hand and gently pull the fingers of your straight hand down towards the ground. You may also gently pull on one finger at a time to get a more isolated stretch in those tight ligaments. Repeat on the other hand. You may also try reversing the stretch by flipping your palm to face down and using your free hand to gently press the top of the palm towards you.
Incline Push Ups– Use your desk to assist you in your pushups. This is a great way to build enough upper body strength to get a full pushup form the floor. With your hands on your desk, walk your legs out so that your body is in one long diagonal line. Make sure your heels are lifted so that you are only on the balls of your feet with most of your weight on your arms. Keep your back from arching by pulling your abs in. You can do a narrow push up with your elbows by your sides or a wide pushup with your elbows bending at 90 degrees wider than your chest. Do 10-20.
Spine Twist– A Pilates exercise that you can do while seated! I love this one because it not only works your obliques but it opens up your chest and works the upper back muscles, which get loose and rounded when working on your laptop at a desk all day. Sit at the edge of your chair with your inner thighs squeezing together like they’re one leg. Sit up tall with your back straight and navel pulled into your spine. Interlace your fingers and put your hands behind your head. Open up your elbows to flatten your back and open the chest. Take two counts to pulse your torso to the right and then two counts to the left. Do not let your legs or hips shift. Lift up out of your hips so that you are twisting your torso off your hips with your abs. Your head only turns as far as your obliques can twist you. Do 10 in each direction.
This 5-minute workout at your desk is a good way to keep tone in your muscles and your circulation going when you are working long hours. All of these moves should be done back to back without a rest in between since they are all working different muscles. Wouldn’t it be great to continue doing our jobs without having to compromise our health?
Also by Crystal: 5 Exercises To Flatten Your Lower Abs (Video)
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Video: Crystal Chin