Even if you’re a gym rat who works out multiple times a week, your behavior in the office may be harming your health. A 2011 study, for example, revealed that folks who spend a lot of their time sitting down — which pretty much sounds like every single office worker — are more likely to develop cancer than their peers who are constantly on the move.
Don’t panic: having an office job isn’t a death sentence. By being proactive, you can maintain your health and own employee engagement. With that in mind, let’s look at some exercises you should make it a habit of doing throughout your workweek:
1. The classic elbow stretch
While sitting down at your desk, put your right arm in the air and pull on your elbow with your left hand while trying to grab your left shoulder with your right hand. (How’s that for a mouthful?) Switch it around and stretch the other side. You’ll be typing like a pro in no time.
2. Sit and reach
Still sitting in your chair? Move toward the edge of it and stretch your legs out in straight lines. Try to touch your toes, and hold your position for 15 or 20 seconds. Your lower back will thank you.
3. Reach for the heavens
Interlock your fingers and put your palms as close to the ceiling as you can. Your trapezoids should get stretched nicely.
4. Flex your abdominals
Ever wanted that killer six-pack? You can sculpt your abs right in the office while you’re sitting at your desk. Flex (and release) your abs throughout the day. Believe it or not, an exercise as simple as this should result in increased definition.
5. Stretch your shoulders
Next time you have downtime at your desk, put your right hand on your left elbow and stretch it across the front of your chest. Now, switch it up and work the other side. This should prevent your arms from feeling sore after a long day behind the keyboard.
6. Say your prayers
If you’re like most professionals, you spend a good chunk of your day behind the keyboard. You don’t want carpel tunnel syndrome, so you need to make sure you stretch your wrists and fingers regularly. An easy way to do that? Put your palms together like you’re praying. Push them against one another until you feel a mild stretch in your forearms.
7. Sit and twist
When you’re sitting down, cross your legs, sticking your leg one over your right knee. Lift your hands up, inhale and exhale, and then twist your body to the left, using your thigh or the edge of the chair as leverage. Repeat the process for your other side, and your back should be less stiff after a long day at work.
8. Stand up and sit down
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to figure out how to stay in shape at work. Make it a habit to simply stand up when you’ve noticed that you’ve been sitting down for quite a while. This should get the blood flowing. Then sit back down. Do it often enough, and it’s almost like you’re doing squats.