With many of us spending most of our working day seated in the office at the computer, it’s all too easy to miss out on the physical exercise that’s vital for our general health and well-being. We all know that maintaining good physical health is essential but let’s not overlook the importance of mental health too.
When our mental health is good, we have a sense of purpose and direction and feel that we can cope with whatever life (and work) throws at us. But just as our physical health fluctuates, so too our mental health goes through ups and downs.
Workplace wellbeing encompasses both physical and mental health and it’s important that neither are neglected.
In this article we focus on physical wellbeing and share some desk exercises that anyone can do easily at work.
Easy desk exercises you can do at work
It's a fact: sitting for long periods of time at a desk every day plays havoc with one's health. Those of us who work in office jobs face a higher risk of musculoskeletal disorders, obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and more - even if we work out regularly outside of work.
With 60% of our day often spent at work, the British Heart Foundation wants employers to make workplaces healthier places. Doing a few simple desk exercises at work will help maintain your energy, focus and productivity.
In a bid to stay fit and healthy at our desks, we caught up with Wendy Hall, a West Midlands-based fitness instructor who specialises in teaching inclusive, mixed ability classes. Wendy focuses on desk exercises at work, and draws inspiration from her own experience after an accident where she became paralysed from the neck down. Her disability has inspired her to help others keep fit and is a source of motivation for herself and others.
Wendy's inclusive group exercise class, FUNction Fitness, is suitable for everyone. The following exercises are taken from her class and can be done really easily at your desk between tasks!
Wendy's top 5 desk exercises
Wendy recommends 10 repetitions of the following exercises, repeated twice if possible. Remember: the guidelines for 30 minutes of exercise per day can be broken down into 10-minute segments. With these exercises, you could easily meet the requirements without leaving your desk. These are a great way to warm up, de-stress and give your body a well-earned break from the computer.
Exercise is good for the mind as well as the body: increase your productivity levels by encouraging those endorphins to flow!
1) Side Bends
Long reaches down as far as possible to the left and right, sitting up tall in-between. Encourage flexibility and side movements by using your abs, ribs, waist and arms
2) Shoulder Shrugs
Shoulders shrug up to the ears and control the return movement. Great for releasing tension if you're sat at a screen for long periods. Arms should be long and down by the side of your chair throughout.
3) Side Rotations
Hands to the shoulders, elbows sticking out. Turn to the left, then to the right. Make sure you're sitting up tall, with a gap between yourself and the back of the chair so your whole upper body can move. Great for flexibility and the upper body - lift through the ribs and use the abs to help as you turn.
4) Knee Lifts
Here’s another desk exercise you can do while seated, just move back a couple of feet. Single knee lifts, left and right (try not using hands for extra support). Placing your hands on top of the head will make this harder; make sure you sit up tall for this, again gap between you and the chair back. Feet return fully to the floor after each 'step'. This uses the largest muscles in your legs and engages lower leg movements too.
5) Ankle Reach to Overhead Push
Here’s a desk exercise that can relieve tension and help your posture. Reach as far as possible with both hands to the ankles while seated, then both hands reach as far overhead as possible. Big stretch up with the arms, lifting to use ribs, working the abs, using shoulders, arms and lungs. Both feet firmly flat on the floor throughout.
Wellbeing is a high priority within flexible offices
So how is physical and mental health being addressed within office environments?
Flexible office providers (those offering serviced offices, coworking and hot desks) have long recognised the importance of wellbeing in the workplace. Having the right mix of desirable spaces that can support what people do during the working day is central to many flexible office designs. Contemporary flexible workspaces focus on what workers need: generous amenities, alternative spaces to support focused work, areas rich in natural light and external spaces.
Many provide fitness facilities, on-site gyms and wellness classes for their residents. Others may additionally offer free cycles for hire, and quiet spaces where you can relax and get away from the stresses of the working day. For some providers, support extends to free access to medical professionals, trained to assist with physical and mental health needs.
Need help finding a new office?
If you’re looking for a great office that provides a healthy and happy workspace where your desk exercises are complimented by a fantastic office environment, give the Office Freedom Team a call today.
Let Office Freedom help you find your next office
To find out how much Office Freedom can help you find the right office solution for your business, contact one of our experienced property consultants today:
Call: 0203 603 2576
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