“I’ve got plenty of time to workout,” said no one, ever. Considering all the time we spend at work, it’s easy to make excuses. Does this sound familiar? You start the day answering email, compiling reports, scheduling and attending meetings. A quick break for lunch, then back to the cubicle, shackled to the desk until dark with barely enough time to glance out the window, thanks to more work than you can shake a stick at.
It doesn’t have to be that way. hip.fit reveals 10 short, efficient micro-workouts developed for the busiest desk jockeys in the office. These compelling stretches and energized exercises break the monotony of those long days in your cube. Keep an extra pair of gym shoes in your desk and consider inviting a coworker to join you to keep it interesting.
What’s in it for me: Chances are, if your job requires you to sit in one place most of the day, it’s not uncommon to get numb-butt, feeling stiff and sore after several hours. Office squats will get your blood pumping again with just a couple minutes of effort. These squats are great for even the most hardcore executives because you can literally keep working while doing them. Best known as an exercise that tones the legs and butt, office squats also improve circulation, and they won’t put a strain on your back.
How to do it: Seated on the edge of your chair, place your hands on your desk to support yourself as you get ready to rise. Both feet should be flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Rise from your chair and stand up tall. Maintain your balance and be sure your chair is centered behind you as you return to the seated position. As an assisted squat, this is a relatively easy, low-impact micro-workout so don’t be surprised if you feel like doing several repetitions.
Chair Back Stretch
What’s in it for me: There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good, long stretch. If you’re planning a long day in front of the computer, do this stretch before you begin, and again when you feel your back, neck and shoulders tightening throughout the day. The Chair Back Stretch alleviates tightness and the onset of pain in your lower back. Incorporate a stretch in your hamstrings with a very subtle adjustment to your toe position.
How to do it: Select a chair that doesn’t have wheels. We don’t want you to chase the chair around the room. Stand behind it, facing the chair and grip it with both hands. Walk both feet backwards in line with your hips. The further back you go, the deeper the stretch will be. Align you head between your arms and hold the stretch up to one minute. If you roll your toes upward during the stretch, you also stretch your hamstrings.
What’s in it for me: Desk Push-ups are just as good for your ego as they are for your upper body. You’ll look great and feel better just doing them. Wait for the right moment when the tension’s heavy and the office is crowded, then kick-out your chair, stand, stretch and assume the position. Bust out a couple sets of desk push-ups, quietly sit back down, tuck in your chair and resume working. Like a Boss! You owned it, and your coworkers will wonder what’s gotten into you.
How to do it: We recommend removing your shoes, especially if you wear heels, as they restrict movement and may slide on the floor during the exercise. Place both hands on the desk, a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Walk your feet backward until you’re on your toes and set them slightly apart. Assume an active plank position then slowly lower yourself down and touch your chest against the desk. Carefully push back up to the start position. Great job, now do some more!
Seated Forearm Stretch
What’s in it for me: Can we all just agree with that age-old advice your mom gave you? You remember it, “Sit up tall, proper posture is important.” HipFit’s Seated Forearm Stretch gives you a chance to work on that posture while stretching those tight muscles in your forearm. This stretch helps relieve tension in the both the back and front side of the forearm and hand while gently opening the fascia around the forearm extensor. That’s a lot of technical talk but what we really want you to know is, “it feels great!
How to do it: Sit up tall in your chair with both feet flat on the floor- that’s the posture part. Extend one arm out straight and face your palm up or down- your choice. Dangle your fingers toward the floor and grab them with your other hand. Gently pull them toward your body and release, relatively quickly. Don’t move too fast or pull too far. Complete ten passes and switch to the other arm.
Rolling Office Chair Dip
What’s in it for me: OK, we’re not pulling punches here when we tell you, Rolling Office Chair Dips are more challenging than other HipFit micro-workouts. Channel your inner beast, slide a sturdy chair with good rollers away from the desk and get ready to work those triceps. This workout will strengthen your arms, shoulders and abs all at the same time. You shouldn’t feel acute pain but don’t be surprised if you feel it burn right away, that just means it’s working.
How to do it: Remember, posture is an important element of your fitness journey, and this micro-workout demands it. Sit straight up in your chair and fix the heels of your hands on the edge of the chair. Lift your butt and walk your feet away from the chair. With knees bent at 90 degrees, lower your torso to the floor, barely clearing the edge of the chair. Push back up, keeping your elbows tight against your body. It may take some time, but work up to three sets of 15 repetitions.
Chair Leg Stretch
What’s in it for me: Sometimes we find ourselves trapped in a static position for long periods of time with no easy way to stretch our legs. Think about that last long car trip you took, or yesterday’s two-hour, death-by-PowerPoint meeting at the office. Our legs aren’t meant to stay cramped and still for long periods. Hip Fit’s Chair Leg Stretch is a great way to alleviate soreness and stretch those aching hamstrings.
How to do it: Sit at the edge of a sturdy chair and extend one leg out in front of you. Tuck in your abs and point your toes up to the ceiling. Now is not the time to slump. Keeping your back straight, slowly lean forward until you feel the stretch in the back of your thigh. It’s important to keep your knee straight throughout the stretch. Hold this position for 30 seconds before returning to the start. Switch it up, and do it again!
Desk Clamp for Core Strength
What’s in it for me: This micro-workout can be done in stealth mode. You’re so sneaky! Nobody will ever know you’re doing it, unless of course you grunt and groan. Then, they may really wonder what you’re up to. You’ll strengthen your abs and release tension from your low back with Desk Clamps. You choose the level of difficulty by deciding whether or not to lift your rear end off the chair.
How to do it: Clear a space in front of you while remaining seated at the desk. Scoot toward the edge of your chair and place both forearms on the table, palms down. Tuck your abs, pulling your navel in to your spine. Lift one or both legs off the floor, anchoring your forearms on the surface of the table and simultaneously providing upward force on your legs to touch the bottom of the table. Hold this position up to one minute. Lower your feet to the floor and relax your forearms to complete one repetition. For an advanced maneuver, try to lift your bottom off the chair in the middle of the exercise. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t; it’s a very difficult move.
Seated Neck Stretchers
What’s in it for me: We want you to get rid of that real pain in the neck. No, we’re not talking about your annoying coworker, difficult boss or nosy neighbor. We’re literally talking about your neck. It is very common for both women and men to experience stress-related neck and shoulder tightness, strain, and discomfort. HipFit has a Seated Neck Stretch to alleviate the stiffness associated with long periods of neck strain and stillness. Don’t be alarmed if you hear a little snap, crackle and pop when you start the stretch, it’s perfectly normal as long as it isn’t accompanied by pain.
How to do it: This gentle, unhurried stretch is most effective once you are relaxed and not clenched, so take a few deep breaths and concentrate on relaxing before you begin. Sit up tall in your chair with a straight back and feet planted on the floor. Begin by gently rolling your neck side-to-side, unassisted. Close your eyes if you want. Take 30 seconds to feel the tension leave your body as you roll your head to-and-fro. Tilt your head to the right and -using your right hand- gently pull it toward your shoulder. Hold 30 seconds and repeat on the left side.
Desk Leg Extensions
What’s in it for me: We love Desk Leg Extensions because you don’t have to get up or stop working. Desk leg extensions stretch and strengthen your knee and adjoining muscle and soft tissue. Nobody will even know you’re doing leg extensions unless, of course, you thump the back of the desk over-and-over with each repetition. Don’t be that guy! They also work great as a quad and leg shaper. Don’t wait until you’re stiff, sore or rehabbing an injury to incorporate leg extensions into your daily micro-workout routine.
How to do it: We recommend you don’t do this exercise with a rolling chair since the wheels might slide out from under you. Sit tall, elongate your spine and don’t slouch. Place your hands on the top of your thighs. Lift and straighten one leg and push down on the thigh with your hand, providing slight resistance. Hold for a few seconds and don’t lower your leg until the whole movement is complete. You can flex your foot to engage more of your hip if desired. Now lower your leg and repeat on the other side.
Seated Side Stretch
What’s in it for me: We often neglect the muscle groups and soft tissue of our chest, ribs and sides. The Seated Side Stretch is a gentle stretch that can be done as often as you wish throughout the day, no matter how busy you are. It encourages deep breathing, improves vitality and opens you up, side-to-side.
How to do it: Start with both hands down at your side or in your lap. Lift one hand, palms up toward the ceiling just over your head. Tracking the backside of your hand with your eyes, drive your hand over your head to the opposite side, reaching as far as you can, then return to center. Do just one repetition, then repeat on the other side. It looks like a vertical freestyle swim stroke when you do them in real time. It’s easy at first, but gets more difficult as you incorporate many sets.
Whether you’re a desk jockey workin’ for the man, sales person with a lot of windshield time or stuck in the car with family on a long journey, there’s no excuse to be stiff, sore, and stressed out, anymore. These micro-workouts provide quick bursts of energy and relief from the aches and pains of a long day.