Putting in a full day at the office can make it hard to find the time to exercise. But most of us have a bit of a lag between tasks as we sit in front of our computers, and we can take advantage of a few minutes here and a few minutes there to get some physical activity in. You won’t get an extensive workout this way, but you can get enough exercise that missing a day or two of a more strenuous activity won’t make a difference. You can also avoid some of the ills that come from sitting at a desk for too long: sore wrists, stiffness, even repetitive motion injuries.
No one wants to do a mile run or anything else that will get their work clothes sweaty, but these simple exercises can keep your clothes neat and still get your heart rate up.
1. Core Breathing
The essence of practicing Pilates starts with your core. To get a rough idea of where yours is, form a triangle with your hands and place your thumbs on your belly button. The area between your hands approximates your core.
Whether sitting or standing, find your best posture. Inhale and let your torso expand with air like a balloon (without forcing your stomach to protrude out). As you exhale, press the air out of your stomach and torso, concentrating on pulling your stomach in toward your spine.
When you think you’ve pressed all the air out, engage your stomach towards your spine another centimeter for maximum results.
2. Chin Tilt
Sometimes simple is best and that’s definitely the case with this stress-relieving exercise.
Sit or stand while putting as much space as possible between your ears and shoulders. Then gently nod your chin down towards your chest as if you are trying to hold an orange there. You should feel a stretch down your neck and spine.
Repeat the chin tilt several times without curling the shoulders or upper back. The tension relief from this simple move is immediate.
3. Shoulder Circles
Sit or stand in a tall upright position, engaging your core. Circle the shoulders forward, up, down and back for 5 repetitions.
Reverse the circles the other way for 5 more repetitions. The slower you go, the more tension you’ll release.
4. Neck Stretch
A close cousin of the chin tilt, this exercise is so effective it might earn you a promotion if you play your cards right.
Sit or stand, looking straight ahead. Tilt your right ear toward your right shoulder keeping the left shoulder from creeping up.
Once you’ve stretched your head as far to the right as you can, place your right hand just above your left ear and apply a little bit of pressure, as if you are pulling your right ear even closer to that right shoulder. Feel the tension melt out of that left shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
5. Ankle Flexes
This is a great move for getting circulation going in the legs if you’ve been working at the computer all day or sitting for an extended period of time.
Sitting in your chair, cross one leg over the other at the knee. Point the toes of the top leg as far away from you as possible and then flex the toes back. You should feel a slight stretch in your calf and shin.
Start with 10 repetitions. Repeat on the other leg.