Every weekday 31.75 million people in the UK wake up, get ready and head into work. For many of us, that involves driving to the office, being desk bound all day, rarely getting up to move about, then heading home eight or nine hours later. If only we could see what this is doing to our health.
The sedentary office lifestyle has regularly been linked to increasing levels of obesity as more and more employees sit stationary at a computer for hours each day. However, finding the time to exercise in between commuting, working and home life can be difficult. But as ‘The Pop Up Gym’ explains, exercise doesn’t always require a gym membership, nor does it need to occupy a lot of your time.
If you can’t find time in your daily routine to get active, there are some simple exercises that you can do without having to even leave your desk. Performing these exercises on a daily basis will also help you to combat the adverse effects our desk jobs can have on our health.
Staring at a computer screen all day can lead to neck strain. Recurrent neck pain can be debilitating and is often coupled with upper back pain and headaches. These symptoms can make even the simplest of daily office activities painful.
To prevent neck strain, grab under the chair with one hand making sure your shoulder is behind your midline. Next, reach over your head with opposite hand, grabbing the opposite ear and then lean towards the arm that is over your head.
This small exercise can help to increase range of motion in the neck and should, over time, reduce stiffness and pain in both the neck and shoulders.
Sitting down for the majority of the day can eventually take its toll on your leg muscles. Your hamstrings are particularly affected, becoming almost cramped up when contracted for long periods of time.
By stretching in the comfort of your office, you can prevent this from happening. Sitting tall with your back off of the back of the chair, engage the abs by pushing them in and up. Then straighten one leg forward, so it feels almost as if your thigh muscle is gripping onto your bone. Hold it for a count of 10 then slowly release and repeat three more times on both legs.
For a good core workout, stabilise the pelvis with your abs and lift both legs and hold. To build more strength you can do the two legged-version using your arms to help you hold your body onto the chair.
Seated calf raises
When seated for prolonged periods, you can sometimes feel aches and tightness around the calf area. If your calf muscles become strained, other muscles and joints will have to work harder. This imbalance can lead to a variety of aches and pains anywhere from your toes to your low back.
To get a good blood circulation around your feet, sit tall, lift your heels off of the floor as high as you can until you are on the balls of your feet. If you do this movement slow and complete one set of 20 to 30 repetitions with both legs, then complete one set of 15 reps on one side and then the other.
By doing these calf raises on a regular basis, it will not only keep them nice and toned but it will also ultimately strengthen them.
Stretching the lower back
The static posture an office chair creates increases stress in the lower back by adding pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs.
To combat this, sit back tall in your chair with your back off of the back of the chair. Engaging the abs in and up, lengthen through the top of the head as you begin to twist to one side. Turn from the lower back first, then the middle of the back and finally the top.
It’s important to take frequent short breaks from sitting. It gives the muscles a chance to relax while others take the strain, thus preventing your back from becoming stiff and tense. Whether it’s going outside for some fresh air or simply heading to the kitchen for a quick drink, make sure you take regular breaks throughout your day.