Desk-ercise: adding movement into your 9-5 routine

For many desk-based employees, the hours can go past without any movement from the desk. This can put strain on your back, wrists, eyes and neck as well as increasing weight. Neglecting your physical health can greatly impact your mental health, however it doesn’t have to be a marathon effort to add it into your daily life. Squeezing in a little exercise will improve concentration and make you more productive. Below we have listed a few simple alternatives that will combat the adverse effects of a 9-5 routine.

1. Your commute

There are many cycle-to-work schemes that provide incentives for taking to two wheels instead of four, but sometimes it just isn’t feasible. Instead, try getting off the tube a stop earlier and walking the last bit, or even taking the stairs instead of a lift. It’s a small step in the right direction that makes a big difference, especially if repeated daily.

2. Lunchtime workouts

A speed walk around your area or nearby shops can be a great way to step out of the office, get some fresh air and move your body. If you are feeling a little more active, a productive lunch break could include a half-hour run. If you have a nearby gym it may be worth seeing what they have to offer so you can make the most of the washroom facilities also.

3. Exercise ball

Swapping your seat for an exercise ball will give you a low-intensity abdominal workout every time you sit down. It will strengthen your abdominal muscles which your body uses to compensate for changes in balance. This is an exercise that the hours will creep up and it doesn’t require much change.

4. Take ‘active breaks’ throughout the day

Take a 5-minute walk around your building, or use the stairs to go up and down during a break; a productive alternative to sitting at your desk checking emails. It also allows people to physically see you in the office.

5. Sit-stand desks

Sit-stand desks eliminate poor posture and prolonged sitting. They provide ample space to make exercise a standard part of the day, with the ability for movement to happen naturally whilst working.

6. Reach for the sky

Stop your muscles from clenching up by sitting tall in your chair and stretching both arms above your head to the sky. After 10 seconds, stretch the right and then the left hand up higher to work the stretch down each side of your body. You can also let your head loll from one side to the other which will ease your neck muscles.

7. Subtle workouts at your desk

A quick 30 second exercise that doesn’t look or feel too much: rolling both shoulders in circular motions, twisting from your core either side, circling your wrists, flexing and extending your legs and tilting your head from side to side to stretch your neck. These minimal movements will activate your body and perform a head to toe stretch whilst at your desk. Adding subtle workouts in-between starting a new task is a positive way to refresh your concentration.

8. Standing meetings

That 10 minute morning gathering can be a great place to introduce a standing meeting. It could be a rule that any meeting under 10 minutes should use a designated standing meeting area.

9. Turn waiting time into moving time

Has the meeting overrun in the project room? Have you got a microwave minute at lunch just hovering? Turn waiting time into a chance to move. Pacing up and down or stepping your feet will help to awaken your body and add that little bit of exercise into your day.

10. Water

So it’s not exactly an exercise, but water has such a positive effect on the body. Sipping it throughout the day is just as important as moving. Your brain is made up of 73% water, so drinking it helps to think, focus, concentrate and stay alert, resulting in a mental boost in brain power and energy.

A daily routine can normally include sitting down during a commute, whilst at work, to eat dinner and then possibly to relax on the sofa. Implementing the above movements into your day will not make you into an Olympic athlete but it will provide you with some exercise to keep your body supple… and there’s no time like the present!