While the jury is still out on whether or not a desk job really does have adverse effects, most people agree it doesn’t feel the best. If you work a regular nine to five desk job, and have to sit and stare at a computer all day, you may occasionally experience tiredness, muscle aches (especially butt muscle aches), dry eyes, stiff joints, and general fuzzy brain. Taking standing breaks every so often may help for a bit, but once you get back into sitting mode, those symptoms tend to return.
What’s more, all these sitting side-effects can take a toll on your mood. For example, you might’ve been looking forward to an after work gym session followed by drinks with friends, but after an energy-draining day of sitting, you may feel maxed out. It’s just one of many reasons people generally don’t live as active a life as they once did.
So how does one beat these side-effects and the low feeling that accompanies them? The same age-old way we raise our positivity levels naturally — exercise.
Anyone who lives in a tiny apartment knows it’s possible to exercise effectively in a small space, even the space around your desk. Deskercise may have been on the wellness radar for some time, but what follows are exercises specifically geared at improving your mood.
There’s a reason yogis do this routine first thing in the morning — it immediately perks you up. Even if you’re new to yoga, this exercise is easy to do. Start by standing up tall with your hands by your sides. On an inhale, raise your arms above your head, then on an exhale bend forward, touching the floor if you can. On your next inhale, rise up halfway so that you have a flat back, then step or jump back into a plank position, and exhale. Inhale, and lower your body as if you were doing a push-up keeping your triceps pointing back, then bring your chest through and arch your back keeping most of your body off the floor using your arms. On an exhale, push back into an upside down “V” with your butt high in the air. Carefully walk your feet towards your hands, inhale and rise halfway up, then exhale to lower your upper body down once more. Slowly roll up to standing. Repeat the series three times or more to get the full affect.
These are basically jumping jacks, except when you jump, both your arms and legs go out in a v so your body forms an x-like shape. Aerobic exercise is said to be the quickest way to improve mood, so while you may get some funny looks from work colleagues, the result will be well worth it.
Hanging by the copy machine waiting for it to replicate what feels like a million progress reports? You can spend the time sculpting your calves and upping your energy. All you have to do it slowly rise onto your tippy toes, hold for a second, then slowly lower. Do three sets of 30 reps to really feel the burn. The best part about this one is it’s discrete.
Here’s another one that will get your lower half in shape while perking you up significantly. Say you’re waiting for a meeting to start, and you’re leaning against a wall. All you have to do is make your upper body flush with the wall and move your feet a good distance away so that when you lower yourself, your calves and thighs will form a 90 degree angle. Once you’re in position, slowly lower your upper body down until your knees are over your toes. Hold for a couple seconds, then slowly rise back up. Repeat until your legs feel good and burny.
The prayer pose
What could be better than a heart opener and an arm strengthener in one? All you have to do is put your palms together as if praying and push actively until your arm and chest muscles activate. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat until you’re sufficiently charged.
The shoulder shrug and pinch
This one’s great for relieving back tension as well as strengthening back and shoulder muscles. Start by sitting tall, then slowly bring your shoulder blades together on your back, hold for a couple seconds, and release. Follow this with a slow raise of your shoulders, hold for a couple seconds, and release. Repeat 15 times.
If you happen to have a swivel desk chair, you can work your obliques anytime you want. All you have to do it place your fingers on your desk for support and swivel back and forth on your chair. The move not only strengthens your abs, it helps promote healthy digestion. You can also do it without holding on for more balance work, but you may end up migrating into someone else’s cubicle.
Desk tricep presses
You can open your heart and tone your triceps all without leaving your desk. Just face away from it, grasp the edge with you hands, and slowly lower your body until your arms bend at a 90 degree angle. Do 3 sets of 10 reps. Try to keep your shoulders out of your ears as much as you can so as not to trigger shoulder and neck tension. This works even better if you have a low bench in the office, a heavy chair, a radiator, or some other piece of furniture that won’t move.