By Dr. Casey Crisp
If you work 40 hours a week behind a desk, you understand the pain of staying in shape. After work, it’s nearly impossible to build up the energy to go for a run, and waking up before work is such a chore. But, there are ways to stay fit at your desk without even going to the gym at all; just work out at your desk! With new fitness technology and resources introduced every year, it’s now much easier to gain the benefits of exercise than ever before. We’re lucky to live in an age where we can exercise while also working in an office. Under-desk elliptical machines, strength and fitness apps, standing desks, the list goes on. Here are four of our favorite office-friendly ways to stay active at work.
Benefits of a Standing Desk
Opting for a standing desk, or adjustable desk as opposed to a fixed seated desk, has numerous benefits. By cutting down on your seated time, you force yourself to refocus on posture. It also gives you the ability to reset your desk, keyboard, and monitor to the proper height.
Instead of slouching forward in a seated position, maintaining proper standing position takes tension off your neck and shoulders to help alleviate tightness and nagging pain. To take advantage of these standing benefits, make sure your desk is raised so that your elbows are at a 90-degree angle, you’re standing on a flat surface, and your computer monitor is at eye level. If your monitor is too low, it will force you to look down and put unnecessary stress on your neck.
While simple standing desks are a great option, fitness enthusiasts can take it a step further with an exercise desk. If you really can’t find the time to make it to the gym, you can try a bike, treadmill, or elliptical desk option.
These tools allow you to burn calories and get your heart pumping while you check your email or work on a presentation. For some, movement can also improve focus and creativity.
Walking Meetings and Lunches
If computers and whiteboards aren’t needed, get your blood pumping and add some steps to your day with a walking meeting. Walking increases your circulation, adds a little light activity to your day, and gives you a change in environment to boost your creativity.
You can also bring a change of shoes and make your lunch breaks more entertaining by going for a walk or doing some short exercises. By setting aside a few minutes during the middle of the day to move, you can burn more calories and give your brain a much-needed break. Encourage your coworkers to join you to increase team motivation and accountability.
Desk Stretches and Exercises
It’s recommended that we take a short break for every hour spent sitting, but sometimes hourly breaks are impossible to manage when faced with a busy work day. As an alternative, try taking stretch breaks throughout the day.
If your neck is feeling tight, try the Seated Neck Stretch.
- Start seated in a neutral position with the shoulders relaxed.
- Place the left palm on the left thigh while tilting your head to the right.
- While tilting your head, allow the right ear to move to the right shoulder.
- Place your right hand over your head, holding it in place.
- Hold this position for 15 seconds.
- Release and repeat on the other side.
To loosen up your hips, try the Figure Four Stretch.
- Begin in a seated position.
- Take your right leg and cross it over your left so that your right ankle is resting on top of your bent left knee.
- Use your right hand to lightly press down on your right knee as you bend forward from the hips. Keep your back straight throughout this movement.
- Hold this position for roughly 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
If sitting at your desk all day has left you feeling unmotivated to move, or with aches and pains that keep you from your favorite activities, try adding one or two of these suggestions to your workday. By taking it slow and adding activity in increments, you’re more likely to stick with your new healthy habits and avoid injuries.
Dr. Casey Crisp serves as the Director of Clinical Quality Assurance at Airrosti, a nationwide health care organization specializing in musculoskeletal pain injury treatment. His primary role is educating and developing new doctors and managing clinical teams to meet clinical requirements in documentation, clinical assessment, and quality care assurance. He currently serves as the lead instructor for the CEU (Continuing Education Unit) program for Doctors of Chiropractic. However, if tight muscles or aching joints are hindering your progress, consider visiting Airrosti. Our providers conduct a thorough evaluation to pinpoint the root of your pain and treat it directly at the source with hands-on manual therapy. You can learn more at www.airrosti.com.