Don’t be fooled—15, 10 or even 5 minutes of regular exercise can improve your health. When you're too busy to come to the gym, we know it’s tempting to throw in the towel. But, there are some great options in between an all-out workout and simply sitting all...day...long.
Moderate physical activity can help reduce your risk for disease, strengthen your bones and muscles and improve your cardiovascular health. Plus, exercise boosts energy, mood and focus—which will make your time at work more positive and productive. What a lucky boss you’ll have!
So, take a short break for this simple sequence of exercises and stretches you can do right in your workspace using your desk and chair. If you’re feeling shy around coworkers, find an empty conference room or office. Even better, ask a colleague or two to join in!
Scroll through the slideshow below for 10 cubicle moves demonstrated by Elizabeth Hughes, the Y’s director of healthy living initiatives.
1. One-legged Hamstring Stretch
Tight hamstrings can lead to pain in your lower back that’s only amplified by a long day of sitting. Give them a good stretch by putting one foot up on your desk, bending at the hips, and reaching for your toes. For a deeper stretch, keep your back flat and don’t let your spine curl. Works: Hamstrings and glutes
2. Seated Chair Crunches
Sit in your chair and scoot your glutes toward the front of your seat, using armrests for stability. Crunch your knees in towards your chest while remaining as upright as possible. Extend legs straight out. Drop legs lower for more of a challenge. Works: Abs
3. Alternating Toe Touches
Here’s a core workout that’ll get you out of your seat. Stand up tall, lifting one leg while reaching toward your toes with the opposite arm. Alternate sides and keep your chest up. Works: Abs, hip flexors
4. Seated Oblique Crunches
Sit in your chair and place hands behind your head in a crunch position. Tilt your body to the side, angling your elbow toward your hipbone. Alternate sides. Pretend there are walls in front of and behind your body to keep you sitting up straight. Works: Obliques
5. Seated Torso Twist
Take care of your back and take pressure off your spine with this great stretch. Sit in your chair and, keeping your hips facing forward, twist your upper body and look over your shoulder in the same direction you’re twisting. Works: Obliques, abs and lower back
6. Desk Push-ups
Try this twist on the classic push-up using your desk or a wall for support. With your hands planted outside of your shoulders, tighten your abs and lower your body until your chest reaches elbow height. Avoid bending at the hips or letting them sag. Works: Chest, shoulders and arms
7. Chair Hamstring Curls
Lie on the floor, resting your heels on your chair. Lift your hips off the ground, pull your heels in toward your glutes and then straighten them, keeping your hips high at all times. Works: Glutes and hamstrings. Modification: Lie down on the floor, plant feet on the ground and lift hips up and down.
8. Desk Dips
Your desk is a perfect prop for this arm-toning exercise. Place your hands on the desk, and lower your body with your arms until they bend to 90 degrees. Push back up and repeat. Works: Triceps
Show your lower body some attention with a simple round of squats. Stand up and bend your knees as if you’re sitting in chair, with your abs tight and your knees lining up behind your toes. Do multiple reps to get the heart pumping. Works: Glutes, hamstrings and quads. Modification: Stand up and sit down in your chair with your abs tight and your arms extended in front of you.
10. Lat Pulldown
From a seated position, begin with hands over your head and pull your elbows down toward your sides, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Snap out of your hunched-over posture and strengthen your back muscles while you sit! Works: Lateral muscles
Have time for a class?
Whether it's morning, midday or evening, we likely have a class that’ll fit both your work schedule and fitness goals. Take our quiz: What Group Exercise Class Should I Try? You can also watch quick videos of our most popular classes to see which one suits you best.