If you are like most people, you spend your life sitting.  Sitting at home, sitting in the car, sitting at work and sitting in the evening again.  This is the grim reality of 21st century adulthood, which leads to our society being the sickest, least mobile and body-aware we’ve ever been.  So what can we do?

For most people, our jobs force us to be sedentary and with technology being at the forefront of everything we do, we have become slave to our computers, laptops, iPads and mobile phones.  Are you the type who send emails to colleagues sitting 10 feet away from you?  We’ve become super lazy, and as a result, we have become super sick, super tired and less superman. Well, it’s time to change all that.  Getting yourself moving and understanding that your joints need love and that your muscles require to be worked is one of the greatest realizations that you can make. In this article, you’ll learn how easy it is to workout at the office with some simple and easy mini workouts designed to take up little of your effort and time.

But let’s first start with the excuse that we mutter to ourselves all too often.

“I don’t have enough time to workout.”

We only believe that because we have been told a workout should last between 45 minutes–1 hour.  Yes if you are looking for specific adaptations, then this is a good amount of time to workout, but what if you really haven’t that amount of time? Mobilizing your joints is a workout, and that doesn’t require 45 minutes of your time. Here are 10 simple workouts you can do while in the office.

1. Ankle mobilization.

This can be done either standing or seated.  Simply remove your shoe, take one foot out in front of you and start by bringing the foot up so that your toes are facing you, and then move your foot away until it faces the floor.  Complete 10 repetitions. Now, begin to move the foot in a circular motion through its full range of motion. Do this 10 times to the left and then 10 to the right.  The intention here is to rotate the ankle joint through its full range of motion.

2. Chair squat.

Performing a squat can be very challenging, let alone getting your butt all the way down to the ground in perfect form, but by using your desk chair as a support, you will be able to work on improving your technique and at the same time, get the leg muscles (as well as the core) stimulated. Get yourself seated on the chair, place your feet hip width apart and hold your arms up in front of you at shoulder height. From that position imagine driving your feet into the ground and come to standing.  It’s important to note that when you are about to stand that your knees do not pass in front of your toes and that your first thought is going up rather than moving forward.  Repeat this exercise 10 times, 3 times daily.

3. 1 leg touchdown.

Find a little space in your office because you’ll be moving around a little here.  Start by standing up straight and taking your right arm up above your head.  Take your right foot off the floor so you are standing only on your left.  Bend forward so that your chest is getting closer to the floor and maintain a straight back.  The aim then is to get your right hand to touch your left ankle.  When done, return to an upright position still on one leg. Repeat 4 times, and then change sides.  If you find the ankle a bit optimistic, then feel free to touch the knee cap first.

4. Eye revolutions.

Your eyes are a muscle and just like every other muscle in the body, they need a workout.  Our eyes tend to work in a very limited range, usually from keyboard to screen so it’s time you take them out of that comfortable zone and challenged your periphery.  Simply look up high in to your eyelids and hold there for 2 seconds, then as far left as possible, as low down and as far right as you can.  Once up, left, down and right have been done, start big clockwise circular motions with your eyes then anti-clockwise. Start with 10 big circles each side.

5. Shoulder mobility.

Stand up tall and place your right hand on your left hip. Keep your arm straight and bring your hand up toward the sky, actively reaching away from you, then bring it behind the body much like the backstroke in swimming.  By keeping your eyes fixed on your hand throughout the movement, it will improve your proprioception (the brains awareness of its body parts in the space around it).   Repeat 8–10 times on each arm.

6. De-stress breathing.

This workout will probably serve you better than all the others put together.  If we can de-stress at the office, then productivity increases, as does mental capacity.  If you’ve ever done yoga or meditated before, then this is nothing new to you but if not, give this a try.  You’ll need at least 5 minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time to practice this breathing technique.  Inhale slowly through the nose and instead of inflating the lungs, breathe through the diaphragm. The way to understand this is to think of pushing out your Buddha belly when inhaling and when exhaling pull the belly button in toward the spine. This is simple, easy and super effective for calming nerves and helping you wash away those worries and stress.  Aim for a minimum of 4 seconds during both the inhalation and exhalation phase.

7. The power swing.

This workout is a little more dynamic than the others. Take both hands above your head and with your knees slightly bent, swing forward so that your chest is parallel to the floor.  Let the arms swing back behind your knees and then drive them forward and come to an upright position finishing in that start postion.  The idea here is to gain enough flexibility so that your hands sweep the floor in the lowered position.

8. Lateral leg pendulums.

This is a great mobilizer for the hip joint.  Sitting all day causes inflexible hips, which can lead on to pain around the joint, so perform this exercise to help gain better all round hip movement.  Stand upright, take one leg off the ground and simply swing it to its end range left and right of the body.  It may be hard to balance at first so hold on to your chair for help.  Aim on keeping the body facing straight ahead and only allow the leg to swing.  You can perform a minimum of 20 repetitions each side.

9. Shoulder rotational stability.

This is a great way to strengthen the smaller muscles that surround the shoulder joint while sitting at your desk. In a seated position bring your arms high up to shoulder height so that from behind, your back looks like the letter T.  Make a fist and raise both thumbs into a thumbs up position.  Now start rotating the thumbs as far forward as you can to as far back as they go.  Keep rotating till you start to feel that nice muscles burning feeling in the shoulders.

10. The deep squat.

Every little child performs the deep squat with perfection and little thought.  They sit down and play for hours on end with their bums almost seated on the ground.  We’ve lost the ability to do this over the years due to our lack of mobility, but it’s a movement that we shouldn’t be shy to re-learn. Here you’ll need to counter your weight by holding on to the legs of your desk.  So grab hold, and with your feet shoulder width apart very slowly lower yourself as though you aim to sit on the floor.  Muscles tightness and joint compression will at first limit the depth of the squat, but as soon as you hit your end point hold there for 10 seconds. You can develop your range and one day get closer to the floor by being consistent in your attempts to deep squat.  It’s important to note that you need to keep your heels pressed to the ground and attempt to keep the back as straight as possible.

Having a workout needn’t be so time consuming.  As you can see there are plenty of ways to keep you from feeling like you have to drag yourself to the gym after work.  Work on mobility, movement and becoming more body aware for improved long term health.

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