These exercises, selected with help from certified personal trainer, best-selling author and ISSA director of wellness, John Rowley, will help to stretch and strengthen your muscles without dramatically raising your heart rate. That way, you can get your blood flowing and body working without having to worry about dedicating time to a wardrobe change and shower. Heck, you won’t even have to leave your desk.
Begin by warming up with this simple neck stretch. Sit on the edge of your seat, keep your spine tall and draw your belly button in towards your spine to keep your core tight. Place your hands at your sides next to your hips. Look straight ahead and then take a deep breath in as you slowly tilt your head back until your gaze points towards the ceiling. As you exhale, slowly lower your head, drawing your chin to your chest. Repeat slowly and with control for about 30 seconds.
This exercise will engage the muscles in your arms and shoulders. Sit on the edge of your seat, keep your spine tall and draw your belly button in towards your spine to keep your core tight. Extend your arms straight out in front of you. Feel your triceps tighten as you extend your fingers forward. In a small, but moderately-paced movement, pulse your arms up and down for 30 seconds.
This move will help to circulate blood to and stretch your hamstrings, which will likely be tight after prolonged periods of sitting. Stand behind your chair and hold the back for support. Slowly kick your right foot back, aiming your heel at your buttocks. Hold for two seconds and then slowly lower your leg back to the starting position. Repeat the move with your left leg. Rowley suggests alternating between your right and left leg for one minute.
This challenging upper-body move directly engages your triceps. You can use your desk or a chair. Sit at the edge and place your hands on either side of your body, gripping them over the edge. Keep your feet firmly planted on the floor and your knees at a 90-degree angle as you slide away from the edge and slowly lower yourself so that your elbows form 90-degree angles. With control, slowly re-straighten your arms to return to the starting position (don’t sit back). Rowley suggests repeating this move for 8 to 10 reps.
This move will help to open up your hips and stretch your hamstrings. Stand next to your chair with your left hand holding the back for support. Lift your right leg up and extend it out in front of you, then, with control, lower it back down and kick it back behind you, keeping your leg straight. Repeat for 30 seconds before doing the same on the other side.
You can perform this exercise against your desk or a chair. The higher the surface you’re leaning on, the easier it will be to perform a push-up, so keep your fitness level in mind when choosing. Rowley suggests performing this move for 30 seconds.
This move directly targets the calves. Standing with feet shoulder-width apart (and using the back of your chair for support, if needed), slowly lift up onto your toes. Pause for a beat before slowly lowering your heels back towards the floor, without letting them touch down completely. Rowley suggests performing this sequence for one minute.
This move targets your abdominal muscles. Lie on the floor in front of your chair with your heels propped up on the seat. Interlace your fingers behind your head resting your hands lightly at the base of your skull (be sure not to place too much pressure). Starting with your upper back, slowly roll your torso up off the floor to perform a crunch. Return to the starting position by slowly lowering back down with control, one vertebrae at a time. Repeat for 30 seconds.
This isometric move will help to strengthen your quads, glutes and hamstrings. You can perform this exercise using a wall next to your desk, or by simply holding a squat pose without assistance. Either way, make sure that your knees form 90-degree angles and that they’re aligned with your toes. Rowley suggests holding the pose for one minute.
Finish up your routine with a relaxing spine stretch. Stand a few feet behind your chair and raise your arms straight up, making sure to keep your legs straight and your spine neutral. Bend over at your hips and rest your arms on the back of your chair so that your torso and your legs form a 90-degree angle. Focus on pushing your butt away from the chair to feel a deeper stretch as you take deep breaths in and out. Hold for 30 seconds.