The main idea behind an active work environment is to avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time. Therefore, if you sit at a desk for the majority of the day, there are many exercises that you can do to disrupt your time sitting.
There are many ways to avoid sitting all day such as using a stand up desk like the Standee Classic or simply getting out of your chair and doing a few exercises. If you are creative, the office provides a perfect place to get in a quick workout.
There are multiple office exercises that you can find with a simple Google search, but which ones make the most sense? Here are 10 of my favorites:
1. Tricep Desk Dips
Place your butt on the edge of your desk, and then place your palms on the edge of the desk on either side of you. Keeping your feet together, bend at the elbows and slide forward off the desk and dip down a few inches, and then push back up. Dip to where your elbows are bent at 90 degrees. Do this 20 times. For a variation, put your feet on a chair.
2. Carpal Tunnel Reliever
You shouldn’t suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome if you do this exercise daily. Stand at your desk, and with arms straight, place your palms on the desk with your fingers pointed toward you. Lower your body slowly until you feel the stretch. Do for 15 seconds. Repeat as needed through the day.
3. Water Bottle Workouts
As most offices don’t have workout equipment, a full water bottle can work as the perfect light dumbbell.
Sit tall with abs pulled in. Hold water bottle in right hand and curl it up towards your shoulder. Repeat 15 times. Change arms.
You can also use your water bottle to do front arm raises and overhead presses.
Hold your water bottle in right hand. Bend elbow. Extend arm overhead. Repeat on other side.
Water bottle twists are a great way to work your waistline.
Hold water bottle at chest level. Twist to the right as far as you can. Twist back to center. Twist to the left. Repeat 10 times.
4. The Wall (Street) Sit
Wall sits are great for building strength and endurance. Standing with your back against the wall, bend the knees and slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Sit and hold for 30-60 second.
5. The Seated Leg Raiser
This incognito stretch will allow you to get in a good stretch without having all your co-workers notice. While seated, straighten one or both legs and hold in place for five or more seconds. Then lower your leg(s) back to the ground without letting your feet touch the floor. Repeat (alternating legs if raising them separately) for 15 reps. You can also put a purse or briefcase strap over your ankle for added weight, or for more of an abs workout, add a crunch.
6. The Knuckle Sandwich
For a great arm workout, try shadow boxing. Stand (if you can) and throw out a few jabs, hooks, and uppercuts in rapid succession. Continue for a minute or longer to blow off steam and tone the arms, chest, and core.
7. The Hulk
Walk in place and lean forward. With your elbows bent and fists together in front, move your arms like wings. Try to touch your shoulder blades together. 20 reps.
Lap your block or a floor of your office. Try for a pace of 100 steps per minute, which is an easy pace to maintain around the office. Walk for 10 min.
9. Take the Stairs. While You're At It, Run Up Them
Instead of using the elevator to move between floors, take the stairs. Start off walking, but work your way up to a full out sprint. This is a great way to get an intense leg workout while at the office.
10. Get a Standing Desk
One of the best things you can do to combat the health risk from sitting is to get a standing desk. The negative health effects on your weight and health, including hip and back stiffness and pain, that come from sitting down all day will disappear. You can even lean against your standing desk while you are working and do simple calf stretches.
Think about your job or the job you hope to have; how much physical activity does it require? Given that sedentary habits have become so institutionalized in the workplace and engrained in our daily routines, reversing the sedentary work environment epidemic is a difficult undertaking. However, this process has already begun with a number of solutions.One recent solution that has emerged is standing desks. Standing desks enable an individual to be active at his or her desk. Stand-up desks come in many different forms. There are fully adjustable standing desks that allow you to change your desk into a standup desk electronically, and there are add-on podiums like the Standee Classic XL if you don’t want to replace your entire desk. At the extreme end of the spectrum, there are treadmill-standing desks, which enable you to walk on a treadmill while working.
People who have standing desks should engage in “postural rotation,” which involves alternating between sitting and standing positions throughout the day. Postural rotation is important because standing all day can also be strenuous on your body. You don’t have to have an adjustable stand up desk to practice postural rotation. Generally, there are plenty of opportunities to take a break from standing by sitting at lunch, sitting in a meeting, and sitting in your car during your commute. Standing desks are going mainstream, particularly in the tech world at companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
Another solution involves exercising while at work through company gyms and exercise programs. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company Title IX has a 2,200 square foot gym in its office and an instructor comes in often to lead “CrossFit-like workout[s].” Many other companies have followed suit. Wellness programs like these have resulted in greater productivity, a decline in absenteeism, and reduced long-term health care costs, according to Inc. Magazine.
A complimentary solution to exercise programs is providing healthy food in the company cafeteria. According to Inc. Magazine, offering employees healthy meal options boosts their performance while also satisfying their nutritional needs. Healthy food is a necessary part of any company wellness program.
The facts speak for themselves. Though it is a daunting task, every workplace should strive to make the transition from a sedentary to an active work environment. Companies that fail to do so are doing both themselves and their employees a disservice in terms of productivity and health. As more companies implement active work environments, they will set an example for their peer companies, and ultimately it will become a competitive requirement.
It is not solely the employers’ responsibility to make the change from a sedentary work environment, however. Potential employees can and should be putting pressure on companies to make the transition as well. In an interview, one of the job candidate's go-to questions for the company should be, "Have you done anything to address the problem of sedentary work environments?" This might seem strange, but slowly, this tactic is sure to create change in the workplace. And if you already have a job, inform your employer about the health risks of sitting and the long-term benefits of an active work environment.
As the research indicating the negative health effects of sedentary lifestyles gains momentum, so too will active workplace alternatives. Companies that are ahead of the curve will benefit greatly. We all need to combat the negative health effects of the sedentary work environment. Let’s take the necessary steps to stop being a society of sitters.