"We are made to move, not sit at a desk 12 hours a day," says Joan Price, author of The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book. "As ergonomic as your desk or chair may be, sitting produces back pains, headaches, and listlessness. You become less productive."
Check out these exercises and stretches from WebMD that you can do at your desk.
- Glance at the wall clock and rip off a minute's worth of jumping jacks. If you're a beginner, try the low-impact version (raise your right arm and tap your left toe to the side while keeping your right foot on the floor; alternate sides)
- Do a football-like drill of running in place for 60 seconds. Get those knees up! (Beginners, march in place.)
- Simulate jumping rope for a minute: Hop on alternate feet, or on both feet at once. An easier version is to simulate the arm motion of turning a rope, while alternately tapping the toes of each leg in front.
- While seated, pump both arms over your head for 30 seconds, then rapidly tap your feet on the floor, football-drill style, for 30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.
- If you can step into a vacant office or conference room, shadow box for a minute or two. Or just walk around the room as fast as you can. Or do walk-lunges in your office or a vacant room. (You could also amuse your co-workers by doing these in the hall; remember Monty Python's "Ministry of Silly Walks" comedy routine?).
- Set your PDA to beep you into action.
- Take to the stairs -- two at a time if you need a harder workout! Do this 5-7 times a day.
- Do one-legged squats (hold onto a wall or table for support) while waiting for a web page to load, the copier to spit our your reports, or faxes to slither out.
- Stand with one leg straight and try to kick your buttocks with the other.
- Sitting in your chair, lift one leg off the seat, extend it out straight, hold for 2 seconds; then lower your foot (stop short of the floor) and hold for several seconds. Switch; do each leg 15 times
- To work your chest and shoulders, place both hands on your chair arms and slowly lift your bottom off the chair. Lower yourself back down but stop short of the seat, hold for a few seconds. Do 15 times.
- To stretch your back and strengthen your biceps, place your hands on the desk and hang on. Slowly push your chair back until your head is between your arms and you're looking at the floor. Then slowly pull yourself back in. Again, 15 of these.
- Desk pushups can be a good strengthener. (First, make sure your desk is solid enough to support your weight.) Standing, put your hands on the desk. Walk backward, then do push-ups against the desk. Repeat 15 times.
- Sitting tall in your chair, stretch both arms over your head and reach for the sky. After 10 seconds, extend the right hand higher, then the left. Let your head loll over so that your right ear nearly touches your right shoulder. Using your hand, press your head a little lower (gently, now). Hold for 10 seconds. Relax, and then repeat on the other side.
- Try this yoga posture to relieve tension: Sit facing forward, then turn your head to the left and your torso to the right, and hold a few seconds. Repeat 15 times, alternating sides.
- Sitting up straight, try to touch your shoulder blades together. Hold, and then relax.
- You get to put your feet up for this one! To ease the hamstrings and lower back, push your chair away from your desk and put your right heel up on the desk. Sit up straight, and bend forward just until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your leg. Flex your foot for a few seconds, and then point it. Bend forward a little farther, flex your foot again, and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- Walk during your lunch break. If you find that boring, buy a camera and walk around taking pictures. Some experts say it's ideal to walk 10,000 steps a day -- this can be five miles, depending on the length of your stride. "Buy a pedometer, wear it five days, and divide by five," Price suggests. "If you're nowhere near 10,000 -- and this takes some doing -- set a reasonable goal. If you clocked 2,000 steps, go for 2,500."
- Join a gym near your office and go during your lunch hour. If your employer provides a gym, that's even better.
- Forget emailing the guy three cubes over -- walk. Remember, walks to the vending machine don't count!