“What’s the best exercise for losing weight?” is a common question says Dr. Roman Ledger of East Bridge Hospital in San Diego, and his answer is “whatever exercise you’ll do consistently.” Running may burn more calories per minute than walking, but if you’re more likely to stay the course on a walking program, then you’ll burn more calories overall in the long run. When venturing into a new exercise program, Dr. Roman says “it’s more important to consider your own personal preferences, not the calorie listings in a diet book.” For example, if you prefer being in the great outdoors to exercising indoors, you may find that hiking becomes a constant in your life, whereas the treadmill might be tossed aside after a brief interlude. Start with your likes and dislikes, and find ways to make exercise a part of your daily life, such as walking the dog. With this approach, you’re likely to make a long commitment to an exercise program simply because it naturally enhances your life.
We’ve all seen the long lists of extensive exercises you can do to increase your activity at your desk. If you’re one of the many who spends long hours at your desk, incorporating activities is a great idea. However, some of the activities making their way into fitness blogs don’t seem possible, unless you have a private office or work from home. While I agree that yoga is great for your health, doing the downward dog might raise the eyebrows of your coworkers, especially if you’re in a cubicle.
We’ve come up with five simple activities that you can do every day, and will give you the extra impact you’re looking for, without making you feel foolish in front of others.
Sitting for long periods can decrease circulation and cause water retention. This simple exercise will help increase your circulation and strengthen your leg muscles.
- While sitting straight up at your desk, raise one leg and hold it in place for 10-15 seconds.
- Repeat with other leg.
- Aim for 10-15 reps with each leg.
Working at a desk can cause neck, shoulder, and arm stiffness. This exercise will help loosen up stiff shoulders and arms.
- Sit straight up in your chair.
- Relax your shoulders, keeping them straight down.
- Start rotating your shoulders in a circular motion, going as far back, up, forward, and down as you can.
- Do for 10 repetitions, then reverse direction, going forward, up, back, and down.
While most of these exercises can be done sitting down, this one requires standing. Just like the leg lifts, it helps increase your circulation. However, since you’re using more of your body weight, it’s more beneficial for strengthening your leg muscles.
- While standing at your desk, raise your feet so you’re standing on your tippy toes.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 20 times.
Core strengthening helps you improve your stability and balance. It also helps prevent back pain, improves respiratory function and weight distribution, and helps prevent muscle injury – in addition to providing a host of other health benefits.
- Raise your arms straight out, and close your fists.
- Bring your hands together until your knuckles are touching each other.
- Rotate your torso from side to side, keeping your arms locked in place.
- Make sure your arms remain still – you want to rotate at your torso.
- Repeat 10-15 times on each side.
There are few exercises you can do at your desk that will offer you muscle strengthening (short of pulling out hand weights or doing full on push-ups). This exercise uses your chair and your body weight to create resistance and increase your body strength.
- Holding the edge of the desk, push your chair in as close as you comfortably can.
- Lift your legs straight out.
- Push your chair away from your desk, with your legs still raised.
- Use your feet to pull your chair back in.
- Repeat 10-15 times.
Many of us spend a good deal of our waking hours sitting at desks – often for longer than a normal 40-hour week. It may even seem like work has become a major obstacle to getting regular exercise. However, there are always ways to squeeze in fitness time, and every little bit really does count. For instance, instead of emailing, calling, or chatting a coworker, take the “old-fashioned” approach and actually walk to their location. And, we’ve all heard this before, but take the stairs instead of the elevator. The resulting calories burned and the muscle strength built, are well worth the effort.