The “desk-bound” worker’s guide to exercise and agility.

Image Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/herval/ / CC BY 2.0
Is your work forcing you to avoid working out??
Is your work forcing you to avoid working out??

The very word ‘desk-bound’ has a ring of enslavement to it. Perhaps that is the foremost reason why people (well, most people) with a desk job, somehow, never get around to working out. The ancient wisdom said “Prevention is better than cure”. But with free medical insurance becoming part of salary packages, the sad adaptation, in today’s times, is becoming, “why bother preventing, when it can be cured?”

There could be several reason’s why this group of people, consistently and persistently avoids any action, that would even remotely resemble an “exercise” move. Maybe some don’t now “how”, and there are others who know ‘too much’ and this information overload overwhelms them. And then there are those who are plain stupid lazy. So, my thoughts are going to be directed only towards the first two groups of people. Because, if you are lazy by nature, any advice to you is a waste of time! Stop reading this and go back to sleep.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. The below suggestions are a result of my own experiences as a physical fitness practitioner, since 1992. It is a great idea to consult your physician, before taking up any type of physical exercise program, if you have never worked out before.

The below suggestions will not transform you to look like Brad Pitt, but they may give you a few benefits like better metabolism, reduced constipation, gassyness and other digestion related problems (perhaps even elimination of those problems) and  an overall sense of increased energy levels.

OK, first things first. Before we delve into the exercises that you can do right at your desk, here are a few things that you need to take be aware of, irrespective of whether you workout or not.

  1. Your posture: Most offices today provide you with good quality adjustable chairs. Ensure you adjust your chair in such a way that you are:
    • Not Slouching.
    • Your back is straight.
    • Your feet are flat on the floor.
  2. Your computer: This has become one indispensable tool of the modern day desk worker. I am sure you have one at your desk too (perhaps two, if you are a hardcore IT person). So while working on it, ensure that:
    • Your line of sight is aligned to the top of your computer screen.
    • Your forearms are parallel to the ground and your palms are floating over the keyboard instead of resting on it. (I agree, it does take a bit of conscious effort at first but eventually you get used to it.)
    • Look away from the screen as often as you can (your eyes will surely thank you for it!). Usually once every 15-20 minutes, is a good bench mark. But feel free to come up with your own numbers, that work for you.
    • Building further on the previous point, do not constantly stare at the monitor. Keep blinking, to lubricate your eyes. I have actually noticed some people, quite literally, trying to hypnotize the monitor into believing that it is probably a radio or something other such thing.

Quite surprisingly, your work area is actually a small little ‘Gym’ in itself.  And you can use the stuff around you, to your advantage.

Surprised? Read on….

  1. The Desk Drawer: Typically, you tend to put your most frequently used stuff in the top drawers and the least frequently used (or never used) stuff in the bottom ones. The lower the drawer, the more ‘junk’ it contains. Try this – reverse the order of contents in your desk drawers. Put your most frequently used stuff, (stuff that you need to reach out to every morning or through the day) in the bottom drawer. First thing, in the morning squat down fully, to reach that drawer, and take out your stuff – this will get the blood flowing in your lower body and give your thighs and buttocks, a good morning stretch). Thereafter, during the course of the day, keep bending and reaching out to that drawer, as  needed – and you have a full body stretch out even without realizing it!
  2. ‘Sitting Down Workouts’ at the office chair: The chair is another great place to do a variety of workouts, some, even while doing the ‘actual’ work that you are supposed to do, sitting there. Here are some examples:
    • While reading that report, rotate your ankles, 10 times each, one at a time.
    • Do kegels exercise [Learn More] to strengthen your pelvic muscles.
    • Buy a pair of 1 kg. ankle weights (very useful). They are cheap and can help you do leg extensions [Learn More], sitting on your chair. Just strap them on to your ankles and you are ready to go. This one is particularly helpful to those who  are overweight and/or have frequent knee aches. It will strengthen the knee joint and rejuvenate the quadriceps (a.k.a the thighs).  8-10 repetitions, should do you good.
  3. Walk, at every opportunity: Every good office space is spread across a large area, these days. I am sure yours too has a long Aisle from one end of the floor to the other. Take a walk to the other end of the floor. You may be surprised to see faces, that you never knew worked with you :). And you will get the benefit of a good walk. How to get going? Easy! Start using the toilet at the other end of the floor (instead of the one closest to where you sit). You can even go to the coffee machine on the other end.
  4. Quest for water: I am really not sure who came up with the “eight glasses a day” maxim. But here is what I DO know. If I go to the bathroom, and notice that the urine is anything but clear – I am not hydrated. If you notice a pale yellow shade (the darker, the worse) you need to drink more water. You are doing good if urine is clear and color less, just like water. That’s the easiest benchmark to know if you are sufficiently hydrated. My norm – One 1 ltr. bottle of water every 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. The 40 minute bomb: Now this one is not really, an exercise, but an efficiency tip that I discovered recently and it works like a charm for me. Previously, I used to work continuously on a task and after a while, it used to feel like a drag. Now, I work for 40 minutes straight and then take a 10-15 minute break, where make an effort that my thoughts do not hover around the work that I was doing. This helps me to work with full focus on the task at hand. And the time that I spend at office has started to become more fulfilling and meaningful.

So what are you waiting for? Get moving and get fit – even while at your work desk. At least, now, you know that you don’t need to be at a gym to get those dormant muscles moving.

Recommended Related Stuff:

  1. TOP HEAVY – The Curse of a sedentary lifestyle.
  2. The 2 minute workout 🙂
  3. Getting back into shape!
  4. The classic beginner’s workout mistake – Obsession with Numbers
  5. The Fitness Routine, that works.

Do Share Your fantastic thoughts with me, by leaving a comment.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Pallavi says:

    Think this is pretty good stuff.. some we know but dont follow.. some we ignore. and some we take for granted..
    the sins of a sedentary lifestyle.. 🙂

    1. anandspeak says:

      Hi pallavi, Yes I agree. We sure take our physical state for granted most of the times. Thanks for stopping by.

      Thanks & Regards, H S Anand

  2. Jane says:

    Good post, perfect tips for a deskbound me.

    Interesting blog as well, should be dropping by more often, keep it up 🙂

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