By Kathryn Knights, Management and Leadership Tutor at Professional Academy
If you're reading this blog and you've been in the same position for at least 30 minutes, then it’s time to get that body moving. Keeping the body in the same position for long periods of time doesn't do you any favours. We're designed to move. Changing the position of your body gives tense muscles a chance to relax, whilst other ones get the opportunity to be recruited and do some work instead. If you’re a desk worker then exercising at your desk (deskercise) is a simple way to stay active during the day.
When we are children we move around using all our bones and muscles: climbing, crawling, running, stretching, walking, sitting on the floor. As we get older circumstances conspire against us and our variety of movement becomes restricted.
At school / college / university we sit down at a desk for six hours a day. This continues into our working lives where we spend the majority of our time in one position, e.g. sitting at a desk, standing on a shop / warehouse floor, sitting at a steering wheel.
Below are some exercises you can do at your desk to help you stay active at work. Try to perform them as frequently as you can throughout the day. Little and often is the best approach to take.
Start position for each exercise: from a standing position have your legs hip distance apart with your toes pointing straight out in front of you. Lengthen your spine from the base (tailbone) all the way out through the top of your head. Relax the tops of your shoulders away from the earlobes and check the shoulders aren’t rolling forwards – imagine the backs of your shoulders a lightly touching a brick wall behind you. Place your arms by your sides with your palms lightly touching the outside of your thighs. Your eyes should be looking straight ahead and your chin should be level, imagine a peach sitting underneath it.
Breathe normally for all of the exercises, trying to find a slow and steady pace to help you relax.
1. Fist squeeze
Inhale to prepare. Exhale as you create a fist shape with your hands and squeeze hard. Inhale as move your hands back into your start position and relax them. Repeat 5 times.
2. Head turns
Inhale to prepare. Exhale and slowly turn your head to your left, no further than 90 degrees. Inhale return the head to the start position. Exhale and turn your head to your right, again no further than 90 degrees. Keep your chin level throughout the whole exercise. Repeat 5 times.
3. Head tilts
Inhale to prepare. Exhale and slowly tilt your heads forwards so that your eyes are looking down at the floor. Inhale return the head to the start position. Exhale and take the head backwards so the eyes are looking up towards the ceiling. Inhale return the head to the start position. Exhale and tilt your head to your left so that your left ear comes down towards your left shoulder. Inhale return the head to the start position. Exhale and tilt your head to your right so that your right ear comes down towards your right shoulder. Inhale return the head to the start position. Repeat 5 times.
4. Shoulder shrugs
Inhale to prepare. Exhale and slowly lift up both shoulders towards your earlobes. Inhale and lower the shoulders down to your start position. Lengthen out through the top of your head and keep your chin level throughout the whole exercise. Imagine your elbows pushing the shoulders up and bringing the back down again. Repeat 5 times.
5. Dumb waiter
Position your elbows and upper arms close to your sides of your body. Now bend both elbows so they are at a right angle. Your palms should be flat and facing the ceiling, imagine you have a tray of drinks resting on each one. Inhale to prepare. Exhale as you rotate your shoulders out to the sides of the room, letting the arms and hands follows. Inhale as you return your arms to the start position. Keep your upper arms touching the sides of your body and the tops of your shoulders relaxed throughout the whole exercise. Repeat 5 times.
6. Arm wraps
Take your arms out into a T-shape. They should be at shoulders height with your palms facing forwards. Inhale to prepare. Exhale and hug yourself with your arms – left arm on top of right arm. Your hands should be on your back just underneath your armpits. Keep the tops of the shoulders relaxed and away from your earlobes. Inhale and return to your start position. Exhale and hug yourself again but with the opposite arm position – right arm on top of left arm. Repeat 5 times.