5 Minute Workout

Photo Credit: Larsinio Public Domain
It’s difficult to find the time to workout during the day, especially if you sit at a desk all day. Commuting on the train or driving to work eats up time, too. After work you may have to shuttle the kids to and from after school activities, cook dinner and then clean up. When can a busy person find the time to work out for 30 minutes every day? You can get your full 30 minutes of exercise every day in 5 minute increments. Once each hour, take 5 minutes to do some exercises at your desk. You don’t need equipment, gym clothes or running shoes to do these exercises. Do each exercise for 1 minute. Repeat the routine every 1 1/2 hours throughout the day until you have completed 30 minutes of exercise. 
First, do some squats right at your desk. Stand up straight with your feet about hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Drop your shoulders and squeeze your abdominal muscles. Lower your body by bending your knees. Simultaneously bring your arms around to the front of your body and hold them straight out as you lower your bottom to your chair seat. Do not put any weight on your bottom, but merely touch the chair seat and then stand up straight again as you bring your arms back to your sides. Repeat the squat for 1 minute to work your core, shoulders, chest and legs.

You can perform crunches right at your desk while sitting down. Sit up tall in your chair behind your desk and place your hands behind your head. Brace your abdominal muscles and bend forward toward your desk. Bend forward until you feel the stretch in your shoulders and abs, then return to the upright position. The desk crunches will work your abs, shoulders and core muscles.  
The next exercise works your arms, shoulders, core, back and chest muscles. Sit in a chair that has arms but does not have wheels. Sit up straight in the chair and rest your feet flat on the floor. Grasp the arms of the chair and lift your upper body off the chair. Lower your body back down but do not rest your weight on the seat of the chair. Repeatedly lift and lower your body using only your arms. 

Slide your chair back from your desk to do one minute of twisting crunches. Place your hands behind your head and sit up tall in your chair. Squeeze your abdominal muscles and then bend forward bringing your left elbow toward your right knee. Lift your right knee toward your left elbow at the same time. Repeat on the other side by bringing your right elbow and left knee toward each other. 
Finish your 5 minute workout by doing some stretches. Sit up tall in your chair and place your hands behind your lead. Interlace your fingers. Lift your arms straight up over your head with your palms toward the ceiling. Stretch your body up as tall as possible. Place your hands behind your head and twist to the right and then back to the center. Stretch to the left and then back to the center. Relax your arms on your thighs and turn your head to the left toward your left shoulder. Next, turn your head toward the right. 

You can do these 5 exercises every day to keep your body strong and increase your energy throughout the day. 

Avoid Low Back Pain At Work

Photo Credit: Nick Webb CC-BY-2.0
Millions of people suffer from low back pain. Some aches and pains may be caused by your work. Most minor back pain is caused by muscle strain from lifting, repetitive movements or sitting in one position for extended periods of time. Whether you lift boxes or sit at a computer screen all day, you can suffer from low back pain. You can reduce your risk of low back pain by doing exercises that strengthen your back muscles, employing proper lifting techniques and taking frequent stretching breaks if you sit at work. 
Sitting in front of a computer screen or at a work station for hours can contribute to low back pain. Take  3 to 5 minute break once each hour to stand up and stretch your back muscles. Put your hands on your hips and twist to the left and then to the right. Raise your arms over your head and reach for the ceiling to stretch the muscles from your shoulders down to your buttocks. You should have a chair with proper back support. Use a rolled-up towel between your lower back and the back of the chair if your chair does not provide enough support. Avoid slumping in your chair by maintaining good posture while sitting at your desk. Keep your shoulders back and hold your head up straight so that the bottom of your chin is parallel to the floor. 
Avoid low back pain and muscle injury by using lifting techniques to protect your back. If you lift heavy objects at work, always use proper lifting techniques or get help lifting very heavy objects. Lift heavy boxes and other objects by planting your feet shoulder-width apart and stand close to the object. Bend down from your knees, not your waist. Keep your back straight as you lower your body by bending your knees and get a firm grasp on the object. Squeeze your abdominal muscles for support and lift the object using your legs. 
Exercise that strengthens your back muscles is the best way to prevent and to relieve chronic low back pain. Exercises that strengthen your back and core muscles will help prevent lower back pain. Stretching exercises can help improve your flexibility. Maintain a healthy weight, too. You are at greater risk of low back pain if your are overweight. 

30 Minute Lunch Break Workout

Photo Credit: Alchaemia CC-BY-3.0 2010


Is it really practical to work out during your lunch break at work? Lunch break workouts can be highly effective and energize you for the rest of the work day. It will take a little bit of planning ahead, but you can make the most of your break with an in-office workout for your whole body. Take a lunch break workout every other day, such as Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.  If you have access to a gym and showers at your place of work or a gym nearby, take advantage of the opportunity. If the nearest gym is too far away or too expensive, you can still get a pretty good workout right in your office.
Pack a light lunch of fruits and vegetables on the days you plan to workout and bring some comfortable exercise clothing. Change into your workout clothes and take a brisk walk to a nearby park or ride a bicycle for 30 minutes. When the weather does not permit outdoor exercise, stay in and work out in your office or in the company fitness center. Some exercises you can do right in your office or in the company break room are squats, leg stretches, isometric wall push exercises, push-ups, sit-ups and stretches. Exercise for 20 to 30 minutes, three times each week, if you have an hour break. Exercise for 15 minutes if your break is only a half hour. Spend 5 minutes warming up with some stretches and use the last 5 minutes to cool down with some stretches.
Many city parks provide bike and walking trails where you can get a good workout by taking a brisk walk, a power walk, jog for 20 minutes or ride a bicycle. During warm weather, you can exercise for 30 minutes and then enjoy a healthy lunch in the park. If your line of work or inconvenient location prevents you from getting exercise during your lunch break, take 30 minutes immediately after work to exercise. You will feel more energized and less tired, even after a long day at work.



Stretching At Work

Sitting at a desk all day at work can take a toll on your body. Your back can feel tired, your arms and legs feel tense and your neck may hurt. Slumping over in your chair can wreck your upper back and shoulders. Sit up straight and exercise regularly throughout the day to avoid back pain and stiff muscles. You can stretch your muscles and exercise your body while sitting at your desk. Stretching at your desk can help stimulate your circulation and help avoid an aching back. You will feel more invigorated and less tired after a few stretching exercises at your desk. 
Photo Credit: Public Domain
Begin stretching by tucking your chin. Look straight ahead and straighten your back. Drop your shoulders slightly and then tuck your chin toward your chest. Resist the urge to slump your shoulders. Tighten your abdominal muscles and keep your back straight and your shoulders back. Hold the stretch straight forward for 10 seconds. Turn your chin toward your left shoulder and hold for another 10 seconds and then turn toward your right shoulder. Return your chin to the middle of your chest. Repeat this exercise 10 times. 
Stretch your neck muscles to help relieve tension in your neck and upper back. Sit up straight in your chair with your shoulders straight and your knees together. Look straight ahead and then slowly lower your right ear toward your right shoulder. Hold the position for up to 30 seconds when you feel the muscles on your left side begin to stretch. Repeat this exercise on the other side. 
After stretching your neck, focus on your shoulders and upper back. Look straight ahead and sit up tall in your chair. Drop your shoulders slightly. Roll your shoulders in a circle toward the front 10 times and the reverse the rotation toward the back.  Next, sit up tall and push both of your shoulders back toward the back of your chair. You should feel your chest muscles stretching. Relax and then repeat 8 to 10 times.

For more information and examples of stretching at work, see:
Mayo Clinic, Slide Show: Office Stretches, 2010