10 Super-easy Workouts You Can Do Without Even Leaving Your Desk

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It’s no secret that sitting all day is bad for us. Studies show that staying sedentary — that is, sitting at a desk — for long periods increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. It takes a toll on us mentally, too; sitting for too long affects our mood, memory, and sleep quality.

Tired fatigued young woman massaging stiff neck rubbing tensed muscles hurt to relieve back joint shoulder fibromyalgia pain after long sedentary computer work study in incorrect posture concept;

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And while changes in the way we work briefly helped curb the impact of sedentary lifestyles, the novelty appears to be wearing off. Exercise peaked during the first lockdown in Spring 2020, with 70% of UK adults leaving their homes to get active, but by the early 2021 lockdown, this figure dropped to just 55% — and continues to fall. 

With restrictions easing again, workers need a way to prevent themselves from falling back into an inactive slump.

Co-working and workspace provider Bruntwood Works has teamed up with Manchester-based personal training provider FORM to help you inject more exercise into your workday. 

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Pic: Shutterstock

The true power of exercise

Getting off your feet during the day is pivotal to a happier, healthier mindset. “Exercise naturally reduces stress levels, promoting better mental health in the workplace,” says Libby Smith, Founder and Director of FORM. “By releasing those endorphins, employees are better equipped to navigate the trials of everyday office life, while employers enjoy stronger attendance and morale across the board. Better still, employers can take solace in knowing active lifestyles create surges in productivity.”

10 exercises you can do at your desk

1 Head rolls

Helps with: Stiff neck.

Loosen up your neck and increase blood flow to your brain with a head roll. Tuck your chin into your chest, then slowly rotate your head around your shoulders until you’re back to the starting point. Then, go back the other way. 

2 Shoulder shrugs

Helps with: Upper back pain.

You can strengthen the muscles in your back to alleviate tension and knots with some shoulder shrugs. First, lift your shoulders to your ears and hold for a few seconds before dropping again. Repeat until you can feel your muscles loosen.

3 Press your hands together

Helps with: Strengthening your chest and arms.

Press your palms together in front of your chest and press them against one another. Hold for a few seconds. You should feel some tension in your arms, shoulders and chest. This gently works your triceps and pectorals to increase blood flow and help them relax.

4 Pull your hands apart

Helps with: Strengthening your chest and arms.

Put your palms together. Turn one hand the other way around so that one thumb points to the ceiling and one to the floor. Hook your hands together with your fingers and pull for a few seconds. Doing so will strengthen your biceps; you’ll feel some tension in your shoulders too.

5 Glute contractions

Helps with: Stiff legs, lower back pain.

Tense and hold your glutes for 5-10 seconds, release, and repeat. This helps blood flow to your glutes and your legs, helping prevent stiffness or numbness. Syncing contractions with music can help maintain a helpful rhythm to ensure you tense your muscles for long enough.

6 Lower ab leg raises

Helps with: Strengthening your lower abs.

Put your feet together and slowly raise your legs until they’re at a 90-degree angle to your body. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower them again. After repeating this a few times, you should feel the burn in your lower abs. 

7 Arm pulses

Helps with: Strengthening your triceps.

Stand up at your desk with arms by your sides and palms facing behind. Pulse the arms backwards for 20 seconds, keeping arms as long and straight as possible. Arm pulses help stretch out your shoulders and work your triceps.

8 Calf raises

Helps with: Stiff or aching legs.

Strengthen your calves and help relieve a build-up of pressure that you can get in your legs if you’ve been sitting all day. Stand up behind your chair, holding onto it for support. Push yourself up on your tiptoes, then slowly lower yourself back to the floor and repeat. 

9 Wall Sits

Helps with: Strengthening your quads.

Slide your back down a wall until your hips are at the same level as your knees. Keep your knees together at a 90-degree angle. Try to hold that position for 60 seconds, then release. Repeat until you can feel the burn in your quads.

10 Seated Bicycle Crunches

Helps with: Strengthening your abs.

Work on your abs and obliques with this core workout. Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and put your hands behind your head. Lift one knee toward the opposite elbow while twisting your body towards it, then return to your starting position. Alternate between knees for a total of around 30 reps.

Moira Chisholm

I'm the Health Editor on My Weekly and am always interested to hear what's new in this fascinating field. I also deal with the gardening, shopping pages, general features, our website content and the Ask Helen problem page. I have a special interest in Christmas content because I'm on the team for Your Best Ever Christmas Magazine, too!