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Exercise You Can Do at Your Desk

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 3/28/2009

When you sit still in a cubicle all day long, every bit of exercise you get can help you stay fit. Get your workout at work with exercises you can do at your desk.

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    Getting Your Workout at Work

    Long hours sitting still and poor dietary habits lead many 9 to 5 workers down the road to obesity. Luckily, you can stave off weight gain and improve your mood by getting your workout at work—right at your desk.

    You might not end up in triathlon shape by doing exercise at your desk, but you can still benefit greatly from short stints of exercise performed throughout the workday.

    Doctors say that any amount of exercise helps to offset the effects of sitting still all day. No matter how comfortable or well-designed your office chair is, sitting still for prolonged periods causes back pains, headaches, and lethargy. Sitting still is bound to make you less productive.

    Doing short stints of aerobic exercise at your desk can help you battle the effects of sitting still and fit valuable physical activity into your schedule.

    Following are some exercises you can do at your desk—many of which you can do while you continue to work.

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    Aerobic Exercise You Can Do at Your Desk

    Raising your heart rate for 30 minutes a day not only keeps you fit, it also reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease. While you shouldn’t abandon regular workouts at the gym entirely, use these exercises to supplement your workouts when you’re having a busy day. On your next break, try:

    · Doing a minute’s worth of jumping jacks in your cubicle.

    · Running in place for a minute, lifting your knees high.

    · Finding an empty conference room and doing lunges.

    · Walking briskly up and down a stairwell several times.

    · Exercising right at your desk by pumping your arms overhead as you stay seated in your chair. Alternate the arm-pumping with running in place.

    Short bursts of cardio—whether they last one minute or ten minutes—can be a meaningful part of your fitness routine.

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    Strength-Building Exercises You Can Do at Your Desk

    If you don’t want anyone to catch you breathless at your desk, you can perform strength-building exercises for your workout at work.

    • While you wait for your printer to warm up or for a web page to load get out of your chair and hold squats for a few seconds.
    • Work your upper body by gripping your chair arms and slowly lifting yourself off the seat. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
    • Work your arms and shoulder with desk pushups. Repeat 10 to 12 times after you make sure your desk is stable enough to support you.
    • Sitting in your chair, lift one leg out straight and hold it there for a few seconds. Repeat with the other leg. Do 10 to 12 reps.

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    Stretches You Can Do at Your Desk

    Whenever you get sore from sitting still, try some stretches you can do at your desk. You can also use these moves as a follow-up cool down after your aerobic desk exercises.

    • Sitting up straight in your chair, clasp your hands together and reach them up over your head. Extend your arms to the right and hold. Then move your arms left and hold. Repeat all three positions.
    • Stretch your trunk by twisting your body left and right in your chair. Keeping your knees forward, twist to the right and grab your right arm support. Hold for a few seconds and repeat on the left side.
    • Stretch your legs and lower back by putting a foot up on your desk. Push your chair back and lean forward just until you feel a gentle stretch in your hamstrings and lower back. Alternate flexing and pointing your foot.
    • As you sit in your chair, write the letters of the alphabet with your feet—one foot at a time. You’ll stretch your ankles and calves.