We all want to be fit and healthy. For many of us, though, the reality of a demanding work schedule means that we end up spending way too much time in front of a computer and way too little time working out. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you can sit, you can get fit - all it takes is a few minutes every couple of hours and some basic postural remedies.
An Invaluable Investment
There are plenty of gimmicky gadgets that are being promoted to help office workers get in a workout while working. Most of them are overpriced under performers. However, there is one low cost investment that we recommend for the heart conscious office worker - a set of resistance bands. For a small amount, you can pick up a set of bands that provide variable resistance levels that will challenge every muscle in your body without ever having to get out of your chair.
Here’s a 5 minute band workout that can be done every two hours right at your office desk. You will be doing 5 exercises for 60 seconds each so choose a band resistance that will allow you to accomplish that without too much difficulty. Ideally, the last 15 seconds should be hard going but not impossible
The 5 Minute Chair Workout
Seated Shoulder Press
Take your resistance band out of your office desk and sit forward on your chair. Now place the band under your feet while holding the handles in a palms forward grip. Keeping your torso upright and your back neutral, push your arms up to full extension overhead. Lower and repeat. Continue doing this for 60 seconds.
Seated Arm Curls
From the same start position, with the band under your feet, hold the handles at arms length and out at a 30 degree angle (this will make sure they don’t hit the sides of the chair) with palms forward. Maintain a tight core as you curl the handles up to your shoulders, squeezing tightly in the contracted position. Do this move for another 60 seconds.
Seated Lat Pulldowns
Hold the band in your hands and then wrap each end of the band around your wrists twice to shorten it and increase the tension. Now, sitting upright in your chair with a neutral spine and tight torso, hold the band out at a 45 degree angle so that it is in line with your head. From this position pull the band out and down to your chest level. Return and repeat this action for 60 seconds.
This is an excellent exercise to counteract the negative effects on posture that comes from spending all day hunched in front of a computer and staring at a phone.
Seated Chest Press
Begin by wrapping the band around the back of your chair evenly so that the same length is available to each arm. Now sit in the chair and grab the handles in a palms down grip. Sit upright with your hands by your armpits. Contract your chest muscles as you push forward to bring the handles together at arm's length in front of your sternum. Continue this movement for 60 seconds.
Unilateral Leg Extension
For this one you will have to wrap the band around the leg of your chair and use the ankle strap attachment that is provided with your band set. Double up the band to shorten its length and increase the resistance. Now attach the ankle strap to your right ankle. Sit in an upright position with your arms holding the sides of the chair. Perform the movement by straightening out your right leg. Stop about 10 percent short of full extension. You will feel this exercise directly working the quadriceps muscles of your thighs. Continue for 30 seconds on the right leg and then switch to the left side for a further 30 seconds.
2 Postural Stretches to Do at Work
In addition to the exercise routine just described, you should plan to get up and move around every hour for a few minutes. Ideally, you will be working at a standing desk, which will alleviate back pain and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury. It will also help to improve your posture. If you are working at a seated desk, you should proactively work to counter the effects of leaning forward by performing some postural stretches. Do the following routine in the hours that you aren’t doing your band workout.
Back your chair up and sit on the edge of it. Take your hands and put them down by your sides at full extension with palms forward. Now twist your wrists back as you stretch down to open up your chest muscles. Keep your head in a neutral position throughout this action. This is the opposite position to the hunched over position that we work in while on the computer. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 5 times.
For this one, you will have to stand up. Place your fists behind your torso on your belt line. Now arch your spine back to get a really good stretch through the entire back. Repeat this one five times. Don’t worry if you feel a little pressure in the erector spinae muscle of the lower back. However, if you feel pain stop doing this exercise.
Taking 5 minutes every couple of hours to improve your posture and do some quick exercises can make all the difference. If your work requires you to spend most of the day sitting, consider implementing these habits for a more productive and happier work day!