Sitting for long periods of time is hard on the body and mind. Research suggests that even short bursts of exercise are beneficial—and every bit helps add up to the 60 minutes of physical activity needed daily.
Healthy workplaces promote the “Sit for 60, Move for 3” rule, getting 3 minutes of physical activity for every 60 minutes of inactivity, especially if you sit for long stretches of time at work. Setting an alert on your phone or wrist monitor to remind you to get up regularly for stretching or a brisk walk is a good way to be sure you don’t go too long without a break.
Walking is an easy way to get active. Walk or march in place while you’re on the telephone. Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of calling or emailing. Lap the building when you go to the restroom, before or after lunch and before leaving for the day. Walk to and from lunch; if you usually bring your lunch, go for a walk before and/or after eating. If you keep a water bottle on your desk, only fill it halfway so that you finish it more quickly and can double the number of times you get up to walk to the water dispenser.
Ready to do more than walk? Here are 10 easy exercises you can do at your desk or almost anywhere:
Sit up tall, hands on your thighs. Take a deep breath in and exhale. Slowly turn your body to the right, placing your right hand on your hip and left hand on your thigh. Hold for 10 seconds. Slowly turn back to the front. Take a deep breath in and exhale. Keep sitting tall. Turn to the left side, placing your left hand at your hip and your right hand on the outside of your thigh. Hold for 10 seconds.
Stand up and make sure you have space around you. March in place for one minute. Now, do heel taps. Move your right foot in front of your body, placing your right heel on the ground in front of you. Bring the right foot back and move the left foot forward, placing your left heel on the ground. At the same time, alternate bending the arms at the elbow like you are doing a bicep curl. Use opposite arms and legs: as your right heel taps the floor in front of you, bend your left elbow. Then switch. Continue for one minute.
Stay standing and make sure you have space around you. Extend your arms straight out to the sides, making sure your arms are parallel to the floor. Slowly start making small circles with each outstretched arm. Slowly make the circles bigger and bigger in diameter until you are making large arm circles (take about 30 seconds to go from small circles to large circles). Then reverse the movement, going in the opposite direction.
Pretend you have a punching bag in front of you. With stomach tight, begin to punch the bag with alternating arms for 5 seconds. Increase the speed of your punches by hitting the bag more quickly for the last 10 seconds. Don’t forget to breathe.
Make fists with your hands and let them hang by your sides. Shrug your shoulders by bringing your shoulders up towards your ears and hold for 2 seconds and slowly lower. Repeat 5 times.
Start with the left arm, make a fist and let it hang toward the floor. Use the right hand to provide resistance. Slowly raise the left fist toward the left shoulder, hold for 1 second and slowly lower it. Repeat 5 times. Switch to the right arm.
Bringing your elbows to shoulder height, bend your arms at the elbow and turn your fists to the ceiling, push your fists up overhead towards the ceiling, keeping your hands about shoulder-width apart, then slowly lower 5 times.
Sit with your feet on the floor and thighs parallel to the floor. Slowly straighten one leg until your knee almost locks and then bring it back to starting position without touching your foot to the floor. Repeat 5 times before switching to the other leg.
Place your hands at the side of your head and bend forward to rest your elbows on your thighs. Contract the abdominal muscles while applying pressure on the thighs with the elbows, holding for 2 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
While sitting up tall in your chair tighten the bum. Hold for a count of 1 and repeat 5 times.
Ready to do more? Employers throughout central Indiana have made a commitment to create healthier work sites for employees and promote healthy lifestyles for employees’ families. Will you? Jump IN has five work site wellness guides to take you step by step through the process of creating and maintaining a work site wellness plan. Visit here to download our guides.
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