As it turns out, sitting at an office desk all day is, well, not that good for us.
Research shows that a lack of physical activity through your day-to-day — known as a “sedentary lifestyle” — is bad news for your health in more ways than one. Sitting for too long each day doesn’t just affect your waistline: it also affects your mood, your memory, and even your sleep.
The problem is that this sedentary lifestyle is only getting more common as office workers pull longer and longer hours to catch up with the demands of a world accelerated by technology.
Even finishing the day with a gym session might not be enough to counteract the detrimental effects of sitting down for 9.5 hours a day, which include:
- Increasing risk of diabetes
- Increase risk of heart disease
- A loss of muscle and bone strength
Luckily for you, we have a few tricks up our sleeves. With our tips, you can inject some more exercise into your every day, without missing out on getting your work done.
We’ll start from the top and move all the way down, so in 10 easy steps, you’ll get a full body workout in a matter of minutes – without even leaving your desk!
10 desk exercises you can do right now
- Neck strengthening
If you’re holding your neck still for long periods of time, chances are it’ll start feeling pretty stiff. To help strengthen your neck, place your palms on your forehead and gently push your head forward, pushing back with your hands. Do this for a few seconds, stop, and repeat. Sure, it looks a little strange, but it feels really good.
- Head rolling
Loosen up your neck and increase blood flow to that big old brain of yours with a head roll. Tuck your chin into your chest, then slowly rotate your head around your shoulders until you’re back to the starting point. Then, go back the other way. If you put headphones on, it’ll just look like you’re really into the music.
- Shrug your shoulders
Don’t know the answer to something you’ve been asked? Take the opportunity for a few shoulders shrugs. Lift your shoulders to your ears and hold for a few seconds before dropping to help strengthen the muscles in your back which improves posture, reducing back pain. Don’t do this too often, though; otherwise, people may think you really don’t have an opinion.
- Make your shoulder blades touch
If you sit at your desk with your arms out in front of you, it’s likely that the sensation of your shoulder blades touching is pretty alien. Nevertheless, it’s important to do this to help open up your chest and relax the muscles across your upper back. If you yawn while you do it, no one will bat an eyelid.
- Press your hands together
Work on those pectorals and triceps with this easy exercise. Press your palms together in front of your chest and press them against one another. Hold for a few seconds. You should feel some tension in your arms, shoulders and chest.
- Pull your hands apart
Starting in the same position as in exercise number 5, turn one hand the other way around so one thumb points to the ceiling and one to the floor. Hook your hands together by your fingers and pull for a few seconds. This helps strengthen your biceps without having to get the dumbbells out.
- Tense your abs
It probably won’t give you a washboard stomach, but tensing your abs every now and again can help improve your core strength. That means your posture is better supported: goodbye, back pain! You can take this up a gear by gripping the edge of your desk and swivelling in your chair left and right with your feet off the ground.
- Pinch your glutes
You might be sat on them all day, but that doesn’t mean that your buttocks are getting all the exercise they need. Tense and hold your glutes for 5-10 seconds, release, and repeat. You can sync it up to whatever music you’re listening to at the time to keep up a steady rhythm.
- Compress those thighs
Without regular pressure put on them, your thighs can quickly weaken. Give them a quick booster by pushing your knees together. Hold them for a few seconds and release. If you have slim thighs, put a book between your legs and press against that instead. You should feel the benefit in your groin and around your hips.
- Raise your legs
One of the great things about a desk is that you can give your legs some exercise without anyone noticing. Put your feet together and slowly raise your legs until they’re at a 90-degree angle to your body. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower them again. Do this a few times until you can feel the burn in your calves.
Doing a little exercise at your desk a few times a day is an easy way to look after your body while you’re at work. Remember to pair it with regular, more active exercise after work to keep your heart healthy, your blood flowing, and your brain supplied with the oxygen it needs to do a fantastic job.
Still feeling some stiffness in your neck or back? Check out our range of chairs designed to improve comfort and productivity.
Anyone that’s ever had a job interview knows about the importance of body language; that even the tiniest changes to your posture and facial expression matter.
But maybe that interview was months or even years ago. How often do you think about your body language when you’re sat at your desk? You might find it easier to work when you’re reclining in your seat, but others may simply see someone who isn’t engaged in their work trying to catch forty winks.
The truth is that even beyond the interview, your body language still speaks volumes about you – and people take notice.
It’s time to take back control.
6 common ways people sit
Experts at DBI Furniture Solutions identified some of the most common ways that people sit at their desks and offer some small tweaks you can make to improve how others perceive you in the office.
Position 1: Homo erectus
- Straight back
- Both feet firmly on the floor
- Chin up
Communicates: Confidence, self-righteousness
This seating stance is ideal for good posture and projecting confidence, so if this is your default seating position, you’re among the lucky few.
Though sitting this way primes you to feel professional and composed, it can also project an air of superiority to others, who might feel like you’re unapproachable as a result.
Try: relaxing your posture every now and again; allow yourself to lean back in your chair when you’re thinking. That way, you’ll communicate to others that you’re non-judgemental and available for discussion. You’ll also increase blood flow around your body to reduce fatigue and boost your productivity.
Position 2: The screen sniffer
- Leaning far forward
- Chest directly over keyboard
- Elbows tucked into the side
Communicates: Fastidiousness, unavailability
Those adopting the screen-sniffer pose are often sticklers for detail. While this attention to the small print is certainly desirable in many administrative or accounting positions, this forward-leaning pose can indicate you’re too focused on your work to talk (either that or you’re seriously visually impaired).
Plus, it’s really bad for you: for every inch of forwarding head posture, you increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds. Nobody wants to be a hunchback.
Try: installing a monitor arm. Monitor arms allow you to move your screen further forward, preventing you from leaning over your desk to read your emails.
Position 3: The recliner
- Leaning far back
- Heels on the floor
- Shoulders hunched forward
Communicates: An easygoing nature, laziness
Slouching back in your chair and keeping at arm’s length from your keyboard shows you as relaxed, which can make you approachable. Unfortunately, this is also the pose that was made famous by Homer Simpson, so it’s become synonymous with laziness, which puts you in the firing line when there are grumblings about productivity.
Avoid the recliner pose to keep your reputation as a hard worker intact and help you engage more with the task at hand.
Try: moving your monitor further away using a monitor arm so that the screen is difficult to read from where you normally find yourself reclining. You can also increase the height of your chair to make stretching out your legs less comfortable to dissuade yourself from doing so.
Position 4: The criss-cross
- One leg crossed over the other
- Elbows out in front of torso
- Arched back
Crossing our legs comes pretty naturally, but doing so too often can communicate that you’re insecure because you’re making yourself seem smaller.
Not only can this make others more cautious when they speak to you, but it can make them doubt your confidence in the decisions you make. Come on, Carol, we know you mean business.
Try: raising your chair or lowering your office desk. Giving yourself less leg room restricts your ability to put one leg over the other; instead, you’ll plant both feet on the ground.
Position 5: The chin prop
- Sat slumped to one side
- Chin or cheek rested on fist
- Head propped up by elbow
Nothing says “I love my job” more than needing to physically prop up your head at your desk.
Adopting the chin prop tells people that you’re dissatisfied, and forces your body into the kind of slumped position that can leave you feeling sapped of energy and muttering that you’re bored.
Try: reordering your desk so that your monitor is positioned directly ahead of you, or bring your keyboard forward so there’s less room for you to prop your elbow.
Position 6: The chaise longue
- Legs splayed to the side
- Torso arched
- One arm on desk for support
Research suggests that splaying one’s legs out to the side is an unconscious sign of flirtatiousness, so try to avoid this pose wherever you can.
Not only can it miscommunicate your intentions, but it looks unprofessional, too, so you may find your co-workers take you less seriously if you sit like this on a regular basis.
Try: swapping your chair for one with armrests to stop you from unconsciously propping yourself back into the chaise longue pose.
The more you know
Understanding how your posture can affect you and those around you, the easier it is to start implementing changes to counter them. Small tweaks to your posture can transform how you’re perceived by your colleagues, helping set you up for success.
Looking for some comfortable chairs for your office? Take a look at DBI – the furniture solutions expert.