Written by Korben Konrady, Founder, BARR Wellness
Office environments around the world are taking on a new form. Executives and upper level managers are embracing their new-found wellness programmes and encouraging behaviours that may have seemed odd a few years ago. Companies are allowing employees more time at lunch to make workouts more convenient and in some cases allowing office workers to leave early to join teammates for a boot camp, outdoor hike or group exercise.
Nearly every exercise can be modified to perform at a desk or with the help of a chair, but remembering that offices are busy places, it is necessary to err on the side of caution and keep the heavy lifting outside the office. So, let us keep the water coolers, copiers and other office equipment in their places while we review some weight-free resistance exercises that nearly everyone can perform.
Rather than completing an hour long workout in the gym, these exercises can be done repeatedly throughout the day. In most cases you do not even need a designated area to work out, however be very aware of your surroundings when performing any routine.
A wall, desk or cabinet can be used as a bench for push-ups or tricep dips. To perform tricep dips start by facing away from desk with palms down behind your back to press down on the desk. Carefully, lower your body by dipping straight down then pressing back up to complete the motion. Every different angle you can press from will work the shoulders in a slightly different manner and will build strength.
Many varieties of squats and walking lunges achieve great results. Taking the stairs rather than the lift is always a great quick activity. However, for a real challenge, try the ‘wall sit’ by pressing your back against the wall and squatting down as if you were in an imaginary chair. Just a few moments in this position will prove to be a challenge. Start gradually with the goal of bringing your knees to a 90 degree angle and holding the position as long as possible.
Sit-ups and body planks work very well and you can perform any number of variations. To plank, lie on your stomach and then press your body up with your forearms or hands while keeping the back as straight as possible. Each side can be engaged by shifting from the plank to a one arm side plank. This movement may be difficult at first, but, planks are easy to modify by placing a knee on the ground. Stomach crunches are very simple and low-impact.
The simplest way of staying limber and preventing sporting injuries is by performing daily stretches. These can be done in the office, at home or even standing in line for groceries. They are essential for keeping your body loose and functional; even more essential if you are taking part in an exercise routine outside the office. Take 20 to 30 seconds with each stretch, start from the ground and move up one area at a time until you reach the top.
Ankles and feet
Roll your feet in circles, both directions and flex the feet by pointing toes downward and upward.
Stand with feet together and lean down to place your hands on your kneecaps. With legs squeezed together, roll the knees in small circles very slowly, alternating directions several times.
Stretch your hamstrings by leaning forward with flat back, and your quadriceps by reaching down to grab your ankle and pull it toward our buttocks. This is a great time to incorporate some lunges, squats or wall-sits.
The midsection is important because our core weakens and takes on worse posture the longer we sit passively. Begin with rolling the hips in circles as if you had a hula hoop around your waist. Then reach your hands overhead and take a deep stretch to each side. Perform this exercise up against a wall to keep good form.
Shoulders, neck and upper back
These areas are the source of discomfort for many of us that sit at a desk day after day. For shoulders, extend your arms straight out to the sides, make small circles with your hands both clockwise and counter-clockwise. Perform shoulder shrugs to keep your neck from tightening up and do so with slow and intentional movements. You can further help the upper back by doing slow overhead presses as if you were pushing your palms up toward the ceiling.
You have likely performed each of these at one point in your life but the challenge is to now make stretching part of your everyday routine. In most cases, after a few weeks you will find yourself stretching in public without hesitation because it does a body good and, hey, it just feels great!
ABOUT BARR WELLNESS
Based in San Diego, BARR Wellness designs, implements and manages a custom wellness programme for companies using a 'results based' approach as recommended by the Wellness Council of America. BARR also designs and manages on-site medical facilities for its corporate clients and its team of experts is available to work on a one-on-one basis or in group settings to bring health and wellness knowledge into the workplace.