Desk Based Exercises: Workouts You Can Do While Sitting Down

Desk Based Workouts and Exercises

‍The modern lifestyle is often associated with long hours of sitting, particularly for those who work desk jobs.

This sedentary lifestyle has been linked to numerous health issues, including cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. However, there are ways to combat the ill-effects of prolonged sitting. One of them is incorporating desk-based exercises into your daily routine.

In this article, we delve into the world of desk-based exercises to give all the dads out there a comprehensive guide on how to stay fit and healthy, even while sitting at a desk.

The Hazards of Prolonged Sitting

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the desk workouts, it’s important to understand why sitting for extended periods can be detrimental to your health.

The Effects on the Vascular System

When we remain in a seated position for a long time, the blood flow to our lower body can become sluggish, leading to fatigue and swelling in the legs and feet. In severe cases, prolonged sitting can contribute to the formation of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a dangerous condition where a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the leg. If the clot dislodges, it can travel to the lungs, causing a potentially life-threatening condition known as a pulmonary embolism.

The Impact on the Musculoskeletal System

Extended periods of sitting can also wreak havoc on our musculoskeletal system. Often, when we sit at our desks, we tend to slouch or crane our necks forward, leading to persistent postural misalignments over time. This can result in a weakening of the core stabilisers, tightening of the hip flexors, and an increase in stress on the lower back, reducing overall spine flexibility.

The Threat to Heart Health

Sedentary behaviour is also linked to heart disease. Sitting for long periods can alter the normal function of blood vessels, negatively impacting sugar regulation and blood pressure. This, in turn, can increase the risk of heart attacks and other cardiac complications.

The Risk of Weight Gain and Obesity

Spending hours on end in a chair can also contribute to weight gain and obesity. The lack of physical activity means fewer calories are burned, and if we consume more calories than we burn, the excess is stored as fat in the body. Furthermore, people often eat at their desks while working, which can lead to overeating due to the distraction of work.

The Solution: Desk-Based Exercises

Now that we understand the health risks linked to prolonged sitting, let’s explore how desk-based exercises can help mitigate these risks.

Stretching Exercises

Desk Based Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises can help alleviate stress, prevent muscle tightness, and improve posture.

Here are some desk-friendly stretching exercises you can do:

  1. Shoulder Blade Squeezes: While sitting up straight in your chair, squeeze your shoulder blades together as though you’re trying to hold a pencil between them. Hold for 10 seconds, release, and repeat.
  2. Reaches: Sit tall in your chair and stretch both arms overhead, as if trying to reach the ceiling. Hold for 10 seconds, then extend one hand higher than the other before alternating.
  3. Neck Stretch: Sit up straight and roll your head towards your right shoulder, aiming to touch your shoulder with your ear. Use your right hand to gently press your head down for a deeper stretch. Hold for 10 seconds, release, and repeat on the left side.
  4. Torso Twist: Start by sitting facing forward, then slowly twist your torso to look over your right shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds, release, and repeat on the left side.
  5. Hamstring Stretch: Sit at the edge of your chair and extend one leg outward with your heel on the floor. Sit up straight, with your back not touching the chair’s backrest. Slowly lean forward from your hips, keeping your back straight, towards your extended leg until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then release and repeat with the other leg.

Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening exercises help build muscle power, which can prevent injury and improve overall health.

Here are some strengthening exercises you can do at your desk:

  1. Desk Pushups: Stand facing your desk. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of your desk and walk your feet back until your body is at an incline. Lower yourself towards your desk by bending your elbows, then push back up. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  2. Leg Raise: While sitting, lift one leg off the seat and straighten it. Hold for several seconds, then lower your foot almost to the floor and hold for a few more seconds. Switch legs and repeat 10 to 15 times.
  3. Chair Squats: Stand about six inches in front of your chair. Keeping your chest and head up, bend your knees and drive your hips back as if you’re going to sit down. Just before your bottom hits the chair, rise back to a standing position. Aim for 10 repetitions.
  4. Wall Sit: Stand with your back against a wall, walk your feet out about two feet in front of you, feet shoulder-width apart. Slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure your knees are directly above your ankles and hold this position for 30-60 seconds.
  5. Tricep Dips: Sit on the edge of a chair with your hands next to your thighs. Lift your buttocks off the chair and walk your feet forward. Lower your body by bending at the elbows until your arms form a 90-degree angle. Push back up to the starting position. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions.

Cardiovascular Exercises

Desk Based Cardio Exercises

Adding short intervals of cardio to your workday can boost your heart rate and burn calories. Here are some cardiovascular exercises you can incorporate into your routine:

  1. Jumping Jacks: Perform a minute of jumping jacks. Rest for one minute and repeat up to five times. If this would cause too much disturbance, you can try just lifting your arms and legs from a seated position.
  2. Running in Place: Do 60 seconds of running in place. Rest for one minute and repeat up to five times.
  3. Stair Climbing: Take a 10-minute break and use it to briskly walk or run up and down the office stairwell.
  4. Seated Leg Lifts: Sit upright in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Straighten one leg out in front of you and hold it in place for a few seconds before lowering it back down without touching the floor. Repeat this motion for 15 repetitions on each leg. This exercise works your quads and can help improve circulation.
  5. Chair Jogging: While sitting in your chair, lift your feet off the ground and mimic the motion of jogging. Keep your knees lifting alternately and maintain a steady pace. Do this for 1-2 minutes, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat for 3-5 sets. This can help get your heart rate up and engage your core muscles.

Making Desk-Based Exercises a Habit

Incorporating desk-based exercises into your daily routine might seem challenging at first, but with a few strategies, you can make it a habit.

Partnering up can be a huge help. Find a colleague who is also interested in staying active at work. Having a workout buddy can make the exercises more enjoyable and provide motivation to stick with it.

Turning the exercise into a game is another strategy, and you can use this to challenge yourself. Set goals for steps, walks, or desk exercises and challenge yourself to meet them. You could even involve your co-workers and create an office challenge.

If your issue is more about forgetfulness that a lack of motivation, simply set alarms on your computer or phone to remind you to get up and move around every 30 minutes.

Don’t forget to reward yourself either; everyone loves rewards. So, once you’ve reached a certain milestone, treat yourself to something you enjoy.

Remember, every little bit of movement counts. Even small changes can make a big difference in your overall health.

So, dads, why not give these desk-based exercises a try? Your body will thank you for it.