Take a Stand at Work: Make Deskercise Part of the Day

If you want happier and more productive employees, consider something that will move them — literally! I’m talking about exercise. Regular exercise improves physical and mental health, and it will invigorate productivity. This is especially important for any of us who work at a desk.

Researchers have long known that sitting at a desk all day is dangerous. “Sitting is the new smoking,” said Mayo Clinic researcher Dr. James Levine, one of the nation’s leading critics of prolonged sitting.

“Researchers have linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels,” Dr. Levine reported. “Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

If you and your staff are spending most of your work time seated, consider these simple ways to add movement to the day:

  1.      Support walking clubs. Taking 15-minute breaks in the middle of the morning or afternoon for a brisk stroll around the office parking lot is a free, fun break idea that helps everyone refresh mentally and physically. Consider organizing a volunteer walking club for lunch breaks, too.
  2.      Encourage employees to pick a parking spot that is a distance from the building. It’s a time-proven trick to put a few extra steps into the day.
  3.      Post a sign in the elevator reminding workers how many calories can be burned by taking the steps. In case you were wondering, a flight of steps will burn about 10 calories. Standing in the elevator will burn one or two.
  4.      Consider standing desks. Standing at a desk burns an average of 50 calories an hour more than sitting. If you stand for an average of three hours a day, that’s 150 calories burned. Do the math and you will see that adds up quickly for a week, a month and even a year!
  5.      Email everyone a deskercise routine. Encourage them to take a break every hour or two to stretch. It’s not quite Prancercise, but the goal is the same. Here are a few deskercises to try in the workplace:

Neck Stretch

Sitting at your desk with feet flat on the floor, drop your chin to your chest. Hold that position for five seconds. Tilt head to the right, as if trying to put your ear to your shoulder. Hold that stretch for five seconds. Repeat on the left side. Finally, tilt head back and hold the stretch for five seconds. Repeat the cycle of neck stretches three times.

Shoulder Blade Pinch

Sit with feet flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart. Stretch arms out to the side, parallel to the floor. Bend arms at the elbow and into the “touchdown” position. Gently move elbows together to touch in front of you. Hold the stretch for five seconds and release. Keeping arms in the same position, slowly move them behind you as far as you can, pinching the shoulder blades together. Hold the stretch for five seconds. Repeat these movements five times.

Side Stretch

Sit at desk with feet flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart. Raise arms straight above your head and clasp hands. Slowly bend to the right, feeling the stretch on the left side of your waist. Hold this position for five seconds and return to center. Now stretch to the left. Repeat this exercise 10 times on each side.

Wall Push-Ups

Stand one to two feet from a wall, placing palms against the wall with arms straight and parallel to the ground. Keeping your body straight, bend at the elbows — moving body toward the wall. Hold for 5 seconds, then push back to the original position. Repeat 10 times.

Chair Squats

Stand in front of your office chair with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend at knees, placing weight on your heels. Lower until you are in a seated position and then rise slowly. Repeat 10 times.

Hamstring Stretch

Stand behind your chair and hold onto it for support. Bend one leg at the knee, grasping ankle with hand. Hold the hamstring stretch for five seconds. Lower foot. Repeat 10 times with each leg.

Calf Clench

While standing, hold on to the back of your chair for support. Raise your heels off the floor slowly, taking five seconds to complete the lift. Lower slowly to the floor. Repeat 10 times.

Ab Squeeze

Tighten abdominal muscles and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times. This is a great way to pass time while in a phone conference.

These are just a few ways to move your employees. I bet you have other ideas for getting some exercise in at work. I would love to hear them! Please share in the comments below!

For more helpful tips on engaging your employees in the workplace, subscribe to my blog.

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About Author

Maria Porto
Maria Porto

Maria Porto is Hanscom FCU's assistant vice president of partner relations. She may be reached at mporto@hfcu.org.

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