4 Beneficial Exercises Easily Done at Your Desk

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Hi! Welcome back to #FitFriday!  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), 25% of US adults are not active enough to protect their health.  They define this inactivity as not participating in any physical activities outside of work, such as running, walking for exercise or gardening. 

Even when we aren't at work, we spend a great deal of time planted in front of our electronic devices-televisions, tablets and smartphones.  In fact, according to the CDC, exercise, even the stationary kind, can go a long way in reducing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even cancer.  "Physical activity is an important heart-healthy behavior and too much sitting and inactivity is not good for you," writing group chair Abbi D. Lane-Cordova said in a news release. Lane-Cordova is an assistant professor in exercise science at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

“Getting enough physical activity could prevent 1 in 10 premature deaths,” said Ruth Petersen, MD, Director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. “Too many people are missing out on the health benefits of physical activity such as improved sleep, reduced blood pressure and anxiety, lowered risk for heart disease, several cancers, and dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease).  Strength exercises, in particular, have shown to be particular beneficial for overall health and wellness--and most don't require you to move from one place to another.  Here are 4 strength building exercises you can easily do at your desk:

1)  Chair squat.  This is similar to a regular/classic squat.  It will strengthen your legs and gluts.  Begin by standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart with your hip points and feet pointed straight ahead.  Roll onto the balls of your feet and heels while you push out your bottom and do a squat.  Keep your knees and feet in alignment to avoid injury and hold for a few seconds before standing.  Do this a minimum of 5 times--several times throughout the day.  

2)  Seated Figure 4.  A seated figure 4 opens the hips and relieves lower-back pain caused by tight hips.  Sit tall in your chair with your right foot placed firmly on the floor in front of you and knees bent at 90 degrees.  Lift your left foot off the floor and place the outside of your left ankle on top of your right knee, flex your left ankle slowly, with a flat back, and hinge forward at the hips until you feel a stretch in your left hip.  Hold this position for approximately 30-60 seconds before switching legs.

3)  Chair Dip.  Sit at the very edge of your chair with your back straight.  Rise to a standing position with our feet shoulder width apart, and while keeping your back flat and your core engaged, push your hips back, bend your knees and lower your body as if you are going to sit down.  Stop just before you make contact with the chair, hold for at least 30 seconds and return to standing.  Repeat slowly, 5-10 times.  

4)  Calf Raise.  With calf raises, you don't even have to stop working while doing it!  Standing at your desk, raise your heels until you are on your toes and remain there for a few seconds until you come back down.  Repeat 5-10 times and multiple times per day.  

The evidence reported by the CDC is clear—physical activity can make you feel better, function better, and sleep better. Even one session of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces anxiety, and even short bouts of physical activity are beneficial. Being physically active also fosters normal growth and development, improves overall health, can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases.

I hope these tips and tricks are helpful and contribute to a more healthy work/life balance in your daily routine.  Stop back next Friday for more healthy suggestions and recommendations.  See you soon!  Warmly, Susan