Sitting all day can have serious health consequences. Studies have shown that people who sit for long periods of time are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart problems. Not only does sitting too much put you at an increased risk for disease, but your muscles are missing out on much-needed activity to keep them toned and strong.
If you have a desk job, like the vast majority of American workers, how can you combat the negative effects of being too sedentary? The good news is you don’t have to quit your job to improve your health. Here are some exercises and tips to get you moving during the day.
Desk pushups. Build your arm and chest strength with desk pushups. Put both hands on your desk and walk your feet back to a 45-degree angle. Do as many pushups as you can muster in one minute. Rest and repeat.
Book press. Work your triceps with the book press. Grab a heavy book and hold it with both hands behind your head, elbows bent. Extend your arms up over your head, and return to the starting position.
Yoga. Keep a yoga mat in your office and pull it out when you need a mental break. Doing yoga during your workday isn’t just good exercise — it’s also a great way to relieve some stress. As an added bonus, yoga can help work out those stiff muscle kinks you get from sitting too much.
Chair squats. Tone your quads and hamstrings with squats. Stand six inches in front of your chair with your feet shoulder-width distance apart. Squat down until your backside touches the chair and raise back up.
Wall sits. If you’ve got a solid wall in your office, lean your back against the wall and walk your feet out until you can squat down with your knees at a 90-degree angle and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for one minute, then relax. Repeat.
Leg raises. While sitting, raise your leg straight out in front of you and hold for 10 seconds. Lower it almost to the floor, holding it just off the floor. Raise your opposite leg and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat.
Take the stairs. Get in a bit of cardio during the day by taking the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator.
Walk and talk. Need to have a meeting with a co-worker or small group of colleagues? Rather than sitting in a conference room getting stiff, have a walking meeting instead. Walk around the office, or take your meeting outside and get some fresh air while walking and talking in the office courtyard or a nearby park.
Standing phone calls. Do you spend a lot of time talking on the phone? Take your calls while standing or even pacing around your office.
Chair swivel. Have a swivel chair? Sit upright with your feet hovering just above the floor. Gently hold the edge of your desk and use your core to swivel the chair from side to side, working your obliques and abs.
Making a conscious effort to work exercise into your day can help you prevent health problems that may arise from sitting too much. Remember: Once you get off work, try not to spend all evening camped out on the couch. Instead, get outside and keep moving.