Best Ergonomic Stretches and Exercises for the Office
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Staying in the same position, while sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time can damage your body in many ways unimaginable; especially for those of you who don’t have the ideal ergonomic set-up.
Having to hunch your shoulders with an uncomfortable chair -- can cause back pain, headaches, and a combination of stiff and tight muscles.
Studies show that doing ergonomic stretches in the office can help reduce shoulder and neck pain; while having regular breaks and doing simple exercises can greatly increase your productivity at the office.
For those of you who don’t have access to a company gym, the idea of exercising while working might sound bizarre. But we can guarantee you that by adding these simple habit adjustments, you will transform your physical health and your mental health exponentially.
We came up with this comprehensive guide -- best ergonomic stretches and exercises for the office -- to help you have more energy at work, be more productive, while achieving your fitness goals. Check out these unique workout routines!
Why Ergonomic Stretches in the Workplace is Important
1. Increasing Productivity
Working longer does not mean working smarter. A person can accomplish so much more when they have more energy. By taking time off during the day to walk, stretch, and clear your mind, you will feel more energy throughout the day.
A short rest can provide necessary relieve for your eyes and brain. Having both physical and mental energy will allow you to accomplish more tasks in less time.
2. Reduces Stress
A cluttered mind can make it difficult for anyone -- especially a busy executive, entrepreneur, or CEO -- to think clearly and solve problems. By taking a short break and doing simple exercises, you can refresh your mind and gain more clarity to help you stay focused.A
3. Improves Concentration
Simple exercises can help stimulate blood flow to your brain; you will be able to remember more of your presentation as you will have a sharper mind. If you have an important business meeting, be sure to exercise lightly before going to the office. Your mind will thank you later!
4. Boosts Creativity
Having problems and setbacks is normal at work. However, while exercising, your mind may wander and might just come up with a creative solution! Creativity comes at the strangest times -- like during a workout or in the shower.
When you let your mind free from boring and stressful routines, it will reward you with unexpected fruits!
5. Raises Enthusiasm
Studies show that exercise releases healthy endorphins that energize you. You will feel better, have more energy, and are ready to tackle your daily tasks. Richard Branson, a Forbes Billionaire, exercises every morning before continuing the rest of his day.
If you want to be successful, why not follow the habits of those who are?
What Do I Need to Start?
Obviously, you wouldn’t want to ruin your new jacket or sweat profusely through your clothing. Don’t worry -- we got you. With these simple items, you can be sure to have a great workout, while having a pleasant day at the office.
1. Washcloth/Towel and Deodorant
First things first, you wouldn’t want to annoy your office mates with your body odor. You never know how much you are going to push your body to the point of sweating, therefore, keeping your personal hygiene in check is important.
It would be great if your office provides a shower for you to use during the workday. If not, having a towel and deodorant with you should do the trick. You will be able to wipe away your sweat in the bathroom and keep yourself fresh throughout the day.
2. Portable Fan
Without having proper air circulation, doing stretches at your work-space can get pretty uncomfortable. Having a portable fan around, will not only keep you cool, but other people might enjoy the breeze as well.
Having a small portable fan shouldn’t be a problem for most businesses. There are many options that are USB-powered and can be clipped to your desk, like this one. A larger oscillating fan would be a better choice for you to use if you have your own enclosed office.
3. Comfortable Shoes
Last but not least, having a pair of comfortable shoes kept in a drawer or at your desk, for whenever you need to exercise, is always a good thing. You will always find it useful whenever you decide to take a casual walk around the office or go for a 10-minute jog during lunch break.
Investing in the right pair of shoes goes a long way. Many brands now offer various options for you to choose from. Your feet will definitely thank you later!
If your office has a casual environment, you may be able to wear Converse or Vans shoes as business casual footwear. They look cool and stylish, yet allow you to stay active throughout the day.
Now that you have the three important things around at your office, you are ready to start your workout. Here are some exercises you can do right at your desk — some even while you’re sitting down.
Simple Office Cardio
1. Stair Climbing
Walking up and down the stairs is a great way to get some cardio, assuming you have access to staircases in your office. You can get your heart rate up by ditching the elevator and taking the stairs during your lunch break.
Spending five to ten minutes a day to take the stairs can improve your endurance in the long run. If you think you can do more, try taking two steps at a time!
2. A Quick Walk or Jog
If your office doesn’t have stairs, you can take a quick walk or jog around the office. Go outside and get some fresh air. Nothing beats warm sunshine to help you recharge.
If you’re not in a position to leave the building, you can use your area as a personal jogging track. Take a few minutes to wander around the hallway or simply jog in place -- lifting your knees up to your chest if you want an extra challenge.
Upper Body Exercises
1. Desk Push-Ups or Wall Push-Ups
Doing push-ups is a great way to engage your chest and pectoral muscles. There are many ways to modify the standard push-up to accommodate small office spaces.
You can try desk push-ups if your desk is sturdy enough to support your body weight. Take a few steps away from your desk, then place your hands on the edge -- a little wider than shoulder-width apart, while making sure your elbows don't flare out.
Lower yourself slowly, while keeping your abs tight. Push back up until your arms are straight.
If you can’t use your desk, you can do the same exercise on a wall. Keep in mind that you will get less resistance as you are standing straighter. Doing 20 reps should do the trick.
2. Chair Dips
You need an office chair without wheels to perform this exercise. Start by sitting on the edge of the seat, with both hands facing forward. Extend your legs away from you while placing your hands on either side of your hips.
Grab the edge of the chair, and lower yourself until your butt barely touches the floor. Engage your abs and your arms while pushing yourself back up. Do 20 reps.
3. Water Bottle Weights
You can use two filled water bottles as effective weights to do exercises. A simple shoulder workout you can do is arm circles. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, extending both arms to the sides. With each of your hands holding the water bottle, move your arms in a small circle.
If you only have one water bottle, you can use it to do arm-curls -- doing 20 reps on either arm before switching to the other one. You can also do shoulder presses if you have a substantial amount of weight on your bottles. The possibilities are endless!
Lower Body Exercises
1. Chair Squats
Perfect for building lower body strength, chair squats can engage both your glutes and your thighs. They are the exercises everybody loves to hate. Having the proper form is critical to protect your knees, so be sure to do this exercise correctly.
Start by sitting on your chair. Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. While keeping your back perfectly straight, lower yourself back down as you would sitting down. As soon as your butt hits the chair, spring back up. Make sure to do at least 10 reps to feel the burn on the thighs.
2. Wall Sit
Perform the wall sit by having your back straight against a wall. Bend your knees and gently slide down while maintaining a straight back until your thighs and knees form a 90-degree angle. Maintain the position for 30 seconds if you’re just starting out, or 60 seconds if you can endure the burn.
3. Calf Raises
This is a simple exercise to strengthen your calves. Stand up while holding onto a desk or chair for support. Raise your heels off the floor until you are standing on your toes. Hold the position for two seconds before gently lowering yourself back to the floor. Do a minimum of 10 reps.
4. Standing Up
Instead of sitting down at your desk for long periods of time, try to alternate between sitting and standing up. The human body, in its most natural form, is not designed to sit down all day.
After all, there’s a reason why standing desks are so popular right now. People are starting to become aware that having a sedentary lifestyle is bad for long-term health.
Research suggests that prolonged sitting can lead to obesity and fat build-up, which further contributes to a wide variety of metabolic syndromes such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Standing up is surely better than sitting down.
Abs and Core Exercises
1. Chair Twists
Remember when you were a kid and you had so much fun spinning around on a swivel office chair? Now you can enjoy it while doing an effective side abs workout. Sit upright with your feet hovering above the floor.
While facing your desk, lightly hold on to your desk with both of your hands. Engage your core and use your abs to swivel the chair from side to side. Make sure that your abs are doing the work and not your hands! Doing 20 reps will definitely work out your obliques.
2. Plank and Leaning Plank
Planks are one of the best body-weight exercises to tone your core and upper body. Position yourself in a push-up position. Instead of using your hands, support your body by using your forearms. Remember to keep your back straight and your buttocks aligned.
If you are too self-conscious about getting down on the floor, you can use the wall to do a leaning plank. Step back from a wall until you are at least a foot away. Lean forward and use your forearms to support yourself while maintaining your feet position.
1. Wrist Flexion and Extension
Typing on computers and texting on mobile phones are part of office work. Because of this, having the proper wrist flexion is so important. You can do simple stretches to your wrist while standing up or sitting down.
Pull your wrist gently with the other hand, backwards -- first facing up, then facing down -- until you feel the stretch and extension.
2. Shoulder Stretch
This simple stretching technique can be done both standing up or sitting down. Interlock your hands and bring them together above your head. With your palms facing up, slowly push your hands up and reach for the ceiling.
You would be surprised at how great shoulder stretches are in building your overall strength and flexibility.
3. Neck Rolls
Doing neck rolls periodically can greatly improve your blood flow and keep your neck muscles relaxed. Gently close your eyes and slowly roll your head around in a circle clockwise, then counter-clockwise. We advise you to do five times in each direction for every hour you sit down in front of a screen.
4. Torso Twist
Stretching your torso side to side is a great way to keep your lower back loose and limber. While sitting down with your feet firmly on the ground, hold your desk with one hand, and hold onto the back of your chair with the other.
Pull your torso with the arm on the back of the chair, while holding steady with the arm on the desk. Repeat with the opposite side.
5. Hamstring Stretch
Sitting down all day can cause your hips and hamstrings to get tight and constricted. It’s important to keep them loose and to stretch them every once in a while. Stand up straight and gently reach for your toes, while keeping your legs as straight as possible. Remember to breathe while you stretch.
It’s All About Making Good, Simple Habits
Doing these ergonomic stretches and exercises is the perfect stepping stone into becoming healthy while improving your productivity -- all it takes is a few simple habit adjustments in the office. Be sure to incorporate a healthy diet as well to boost your metabolism and brain function.
If your days are typically hectic, create a list of daily priority tasks and adjust your exercise routine to acquire extra motivation in tackling harder assignments. Five to ten minutes of consistent workout in the office daily can be the ultimate game-changer in your work day!