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Office Chair Exercises Could Change the Way You Work

Office chair exercises can make all the difference when you’re trying to stay healthy and fit at your 9-5 job. This is especially the case if you transition back to the office after working from home. But just because you’re spending more time at a desk, you don’t have to compromise your physical health.

Are standing desks the best solution for preventing aches and injuries? Once considered the best alternative to sedentary office work, stationary standing desks gained popularity. But orthopedic research found that constant standing can be just as damaging to your musculoskeletal system as all-day sitting.1 Standing still places significant pressure on your spine and joints.

But there’s good news. Scientific research found that office chair exercises at a computer workstation resulted in short-term decreases in musculoskeletal discomfort and postural immobility.2 So let’s look at ways to incorporate healthy movement with office chair exercises throughout the day. First, however, we should point out that these are common exercises that can help people stay active during the workday. People who are experiencing pain or discomfort should have the problem looked at by a medical professional before starting any exercise program. 

Office chair exercises for your arms

Triceps dips

Using a stable chair (without wheels or swivel), place your hands on the seat next to your hips. Move your hips in front of the chair and bend the elbows. Lower the body until the elbows are at 90-degree angles. Push back up and repeat for 16 reps.

Biceps curl

Hold a water bottle in your right hand. With your spine straight, curl the bottle towards the shoulder for 16 reps. Repeat with your left arm.

Arm circles

Raise your arms straight out to the sides at shoulder level. Circle your arms forward using small, gentle, controlled motions. Gradually widen the circles until you feel the stretch in your triceps. Reverse direction after about 10 seconds.

Desk push-ups

Place both hands on your desk, and slowly walk your feet back until you’re in a push-up position. From here, do 10 pushups at a slow and steady pace. This exercise is fantastic for building strength in your upper arms and back, and it gets the blood flowing. Be sure to keep your core tight to prevent a sway back.

Office chair exercises for your legs

Calf raises

From a sitting position, plant your feet flat on the ground and slowly raise your heels. Raise your calves as far as they can go, squeeze them, and lower them down. To get the most from this exercise while sitting, squeeze your calf muscles before lowering them to the start position. Do this in three sets of 20 repetitions. You can do this exercise either sitting or standing.

Sitting leg raises

As far as office exercises go, sitting leg raises are one of the most discreet. Because it’s a compound movement, you target more muscle groups faster — this includes abs, core, thighs, and quadriceps. Start sitting with both of your legs together. Keeping them straight, begin to raise them out in front of you. When you reach the top, squeeze for a few seconds and lower. Do this for three sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Chair squats

While sitting, lift your body until your hips are hovering a few inches over the chair (as if you’re going to stand). Extend your arms in front of you for balance. Hold for 2-3 seconds, stand all the way up, and repeat for 16 reps. Chair squats target your glutes, hip flexors, quadriceps, abs, calves, and hamstrings.

Desk donkey kicks

Start by holding onto the front or back of the chair. Position your legs slightly bent and your upper body (bent over) parallel to the floor. Stick your bottom out and hold your abdomen while kicking your left leg up toward the ceiling. Then, lower it back down with control. Repeat for 20 repetitions, then switch to the right leg.

Wall sits

This one doesn’t exactly involve a chair (unless you include the imaginary one). All you need is a clear wall space where you can stand against the wall without obstruction. Your shoulder blades should be touching the wall and not slouching forward. Slowly lower your back down the wall. Do this until your thighs are parallel to the ground and knees bent at 90 degrees. Adjust your feet, so your knees are directly above your ankles. Sit tall and keep your back flat against the wall. Hold the position for 20 to 60 seconds. Try not to rest your arms on your legs. That can prevent your abdominal muscles from fully engaging.

Core exercises

Side bends

Hold a water bottle with your right hand and stretch it up over your head, keeping the arm straight. Gently bend to the left as far as you can, contracting the abs. Slowly return to the center and switch sides. Complete 10 reps (a bend to both right and left is one rep).

Ab twists

Sit on the edge of your chair. Move forward until your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are at 90 degrees. Spread your feet, so they are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. This will give you more stability. Hold a water bottle in front of you at chest level. With your knees and hips forward, gently twist to the left as far as you comfortably can. Twist back to center and then to the right for a total of 10 reps. Be conscious of the force you’re using — you don’t want a back injury.

Desk planks

Place your forearms on your desk, with the elbows near the edge of your desk. Walk your feet back until you can lean on your forearms. Keep a straight line from your heels to your head and keep your core tight. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds. For variations, hold that straight line while lifting one foot off the ground. Repeat with the other foot. Or lift one arm off the desk while maintaining your position. Then switch to lift the other arm.

More ways to incorporate healthy movement throughout your workday

Beyond working out at your desk, there are a few tricks for staying active at work. Taking the stairs, parking far from the door, and walking around the office are good ways to start. Beyond that, here are a few other options to keep you moving:

  • Intermittently sit on an exercise ball instead of a swivel chair. This will help strengthen your abs and back.
  • Set a phone alarm to go off every hour to remind you to stand up, stretch, and engage in short bouts of movement. Even by swinging your arms or taking a deep breath, you’ll increase blood flow and oxygen to feel more alert.
  • Use the stairs to find the restroom on another floor.
  • Use an activity monitor and keep track of how many steps you take. Aim for 6,000 -10,000 steps a day.
  • Speak with co-workers in person rather than by email or instant message whenever possible.
  • Take a short walk around the office park, parking lot, or block during your lunch break.
  • Use your phone with a headset or Bluetooth to move around while you talk.
  • Try using an adjustable desk that allows you to change your position from sitting to standing and vice versa throughout the workday. Always find ways to move, no matter how small.

Office chair exercises: Small changes for a healthier lifestyle

Now that you have plenty of ideas for office chair exercises, you’re ready to take charge of your health. And with the right office chair, you can also use ergonomics to your advantage, too. The ergonomic office chairs offered at Sedus perfectly supplement a workday filled with dynamic and healthy movement. Contact a representative at Sedus today to find out which of their state-of-the-art, stylish designs is suitable for you.

1 Prolonged Standing at Work Can Cause Health Problems too.

2 Short-Term Effects of Workstation Exercises on Musculoskeletal Discomfort and Postural Changes in Seated Video Display Unit Workers

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