Pull out your chair and step away from your desk. Sitting is the new smoking, we now know, so it’s crucial that we take time out of the day to get up and move.
“Our bodies were designed to move,” says Jamie Price, a wellness expert and co-founder of the Stop, Breathe & Think app. “Sitting all day at work puts pressure on your muscles and spine, especially if you’re hunched over in front of a computer.”
Slouching can also overstretch the ligaments in your spine and cause strain, Price says. “When you move, the discs in your back are able to expand and contract, increasing blood flow and the absorption of nutrients.”
So make this your goal: Get up and move around for about 10 minutes each hour. Here six ways to slip in exercise during the day, and we promise none will make you look like the office weirdo:
1. Set a timer. If you’re going to remember to get up for 10 minutes every hour you need a reminder. Each time that timer goes off, do your best to simply stand up and stretch.
2. Connect your computer to a printer — located far from your desk. “If the printer is across the office rather than right next to you, you are forced to get up from your chair and walk over to it,” says Helen Ryan, a personal trainer and group fitness instructor.
3. Propose a walking meeting. Don't just head to the conference room again. Instead, do a talk-and-walk meeting. "These are fantastic because you can actually get things done and move at the same time,” Price says. “You’ll also keep the blood flowing and stay more alert.”
4. Skip the email and walk over to a colleague instead. That's an easy way to get in a few steps. "By popping over and talking to a co-worker (or your boss) face-to-face rather than sending them an email, interoffice message or text, you can add more steps to your day,” Ryan says.
5. Take the stairs. Morning, lunch and afternoon breaks are perfect times for doing some stair-walking. You can go by yourself whenever you have a break or convince a coworker to tackle some flights with you. This can add up throughout the day if you take the stairs repeatedly instead of taking the elevator, Ryan points out.
6. Stretch, stretch, stretch. You know how tight your shoulders feel after being hunched over your keyboard staring at your computer screen for hours at a time. That's just one of the reasons you should take time out to stretch three times a day, suggests Meghan Kennihan, a personal trainer, fitness instructor and running coach in LaGrange, Illinois.
Here are five of Kennihan’s favorite stretches to do at work:
Why: Helps tone your arms.
How: Place your hands on your desk, walk your feet back to a 45-degree angle and do 10 to 15 push-ups.
Why: Helps prevent the hunched posture.
How: Pretend there is a pencil between your shoulder blades squeeze them together and hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Sit 'n' stands
Why: Tones your legs and butt.
How: Stand in front of your chair and lower yourself down until you butt hits the edge of the chair and stand back up. Repeat 20 times.
Why: Tones the back of your arms and triceps.
How: Face away from your desk and place your hands shoulder with apart with fingers facing you, legs extended. Dip down until your elbows make a 90-degree angle press back up 10 to 15 times.
Why: More great toning for your legs, especially your quads.
How: Stand against the wall and slide down until your knees are at a 90- degree angle and directly over your ankles. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat 5 times.