When you are working on a computer or a laptop every day, it is easy to get so caught up in your work that you do not move for hours on end!
And most of the time, we do not even realise it.
Which is why it is so important to have a bank of easy exercises to do at your desk, so that you can give your mind and body a workout, without disrupting your productivity.
If you are looking to incorporate exercises while sitting into your daily routine, we have got five of the very best, which you can try out for yourself, either in the office or at home.
Why is daily exercise good for you?
Our bodies are not designed to sit at a desk staring at a screen all day long.
Most of the time, good posture is compromised when we accommodate to our computers, instead of the other way around.
Research has found that sitting down for too long can cause obesity, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels and excess fat around the waist.1
According to guidelines, adults should aim to do some form of exercise every single day.2
Experts suggest 150 minutes of physical activity each week is a reasonable amount of time to aim for.3
Regular exercise helps to protect against a range of health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.4 It can also give you more energy.
Exercise is also an excellent natural treatment for a range of mental health problems, such as depression.
Many studies have found that movement has a positive effect on mood.5
So, the next time you are sitting at a desk, try these five easy exercises:
Best exercises you can do at your desk
1. Seated leg raises
Seated leg raises target the front of your thighs (quadriceps), bum (glutes) and the backs of your thighs (hamstrings).
To do the move, sit upright in your chair, straighten one leg – keeping your toes pointed up towards the ceiling – and hold it there for 10-15 seconds.
Repeat the move on the opposite leg. Aim for 15 repetitions, raising one leg at a time.
Seated leg raises helps to strengthen the core muscles, improve flexibility and lowers the risk of back injuries.6
2. Seated torso twist
This is a fun move that will not draw too much attention to yourself if you are in an office with other people!
Sit up as tall as you can and inhale deeply. As you exhale, twist to one side, using your eyes to focus on the direction you are going.
Take five deep breaths before repeating the exercise on the other side. Move your head as you twist so that you do not pull a muscle.
Torso twists engage the obliques and help to stabilise the spine while increasing mobility.
3. Ab crunches
This move is super simple and helps to strengthen your abdominal muscles and improve your core.7
Move forward in your chair, so that your back does not touch the rest, and sit up as straight as you can.
Tighten your ab muscles as much as you can and hold them there for 10-15 seconds. Relax and release, then repeat the process for 15 reps.
You should feel your ab muscles feel tighter. To make the exercise harder, do it while standing if you have an extendable desk.
4. Shoulder shrugs
When hunched over a desk or using a mouse for extended periods of time, the shoulders, back and neck sometimes begin to ache.8
Shoulder shrugs are so easy, and you can do this exercise while sitting at a desk at any time.
To try to release some of the tension in your neck and shoulders, gently raise your shoulders as high as you can and let them drop.
Repeat for 15 reps at a time throughout the day, or whenever you feel the tension rising in your shoulders and neck.
5. Chair dips
Chair dips work your triceps, which are the muscles on the backs of the arms.9 You can do the exercise safely at home with your office chair – assuming it is not on wheels!
Sit on the chair with your arms down by your sides and your feet flat on the floor.
Then, move your hands to the front of the chair, gripping the front with your fingers.
Move your torso forwards off the chair and extend your arms.
Breathe in and slowly lower your body. Breathe out as you push back up to your starting point.
Last updated: 19 January 2021
Author: Donia Hilal, Nutritionist
Donia started her career as a freelance nutritionist, later she joined Nestle as their Market Nutritionist to help support their healthier product range, before joining the team at Holland & Barrett in January 2018. Donia has 6 years experience as a Nutritionist and also works with clients on a one to one basis to support their goals which include weight loss, prenatal and postnatal nutrition and children’s health.
Donia has a special interest in; weight management, plant-based nutrition, pregnancy nutrition, special diets and disease risk reduction. Donia’s LinkedIn profile