Nine hours at a desk can be exhausting - a flurry of emails, phone calls and too many e-chats with colleagues to count. What's more, studies show that your desk chair might be harming your health.
Before you take out an AVO on your office furniture, consider that researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minneapolis discovered that the reason people gain or lose weight has a lot to do with how long they sit still. Eating well and being active on your own time is important, but staying active with office workouts throughout the day is something most people fail to consider, affecting your calorie-burning rate, insulin levels and thereby your body's ability to flush fat out of the blood stream.
The good news is that counteracting the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle is simple: get moving! According to the doctors involved in the study, every movement counts.
Here are five simple office workouts you can do at your desk to help stay alert and active throughout the day.
1. Up your rate of minute movements
Divide your to-do list into 20-minute blocks. Every time you complete a task or reach a natural break in your work flow, jump up to refill your water glass, use the bathroom or clear dishes off your desk. If a colleague stops by your desk to ask a question, stand up to talk to them or move the conversation to a table nearby. This may help you work more effectively, too. Movement is as good for the mind as it is for the body.
2. Stretch arms and upper body
When we sit still all day, the muscles in the neck and shoulders hold tension, which can eventually lead to headaches and other body aches. Relieve tension in the wrists and hands by linking your fingers and pushing your palms away from your body. Extend your arms over your head and clench your triceps to get a nice stretch in the shoulders and wrists. Clasp your hands behind your back to stretch the shoulder heads and open the upper back.
3. Twist your spine
Spinal twists do wonders for your health, including benefits to your circulatory system and internal organs, and structural benefits to the natural curve of the spine. An excellent twist for the office is a variation of the yoga move Bharadvajasana - but you don't need to be able to pronounce the name to do it! Clasp the outside of your right knee with your left hand. Weave your right arm behind you and grab onto your left elbow. Suck in your abdominals and look over your right shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side.
4. Strengthen your legs and lower body
Every time you stand up to do something, take the opportunity to stretch. Plant your feet into the floor, engaging your knees and quad muscles. Hook your thumbs and stretch your arms above your head. Plant your feet about a leg's distance apart. Place your hands on your hips. Move your hips to the left and your upper body to the right and vice versa.
5. Remember to breathe
One of the best ways to counteract tiredness and inertia is to take a deep breath. Fill your lungs with air right into your belly and upper back. As you breathe out, engage the muscles in your abdomen - repeat. It may seem like a minor movement, but breathing consciously and engaging your core muscles will fire up your digestive system and strengthen your body.
You don't have to weave your body into compromising yoga positions or do star jumps by the water cooler to work out at work - use these subtle steps to stay active during the day and keep your mind alert as well.
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This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Johanna is a communications professional with a background in content, social media and public relations. Johanna has more than six years experience working on campaigns in the design, lifestyle, and personal finance categories. In her own time she blogs about food, travel, and life on her personal blog, wordsbyjo.com.