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How to Stay Active When Returning to the Office
How to Stay Active When Returning to the Office

Although we are experiencing an unfortunate time in history, many people around the world are making the best of things by using it as an opportunity to get outside and get active. However, now that more and more businesses are beginning to reopen their doors, employees may be dreading going back to work and being chained to their desk. It is no secret that sitting all day is not ideal for your body or your health. In fact, the World Health Organization attributes 3.2 million deaths each year to a sedentary lifestyle, and sitting for long periods of time may be linked to an increased risk of heart disease and type II diabetes. Additionally, sitting with bad posture can create problems for your muscles and bones that can be painful and debilitating. Adding an average of 7.5 hours of sleep and 9.5 hours between commuting and working, the average individual is sedentary for approximately 17 hours a day. If you go home from work and relax on the couch, even longer. Some studies have suggested that individuals who sit for 8 hours a day, with minimal exercise, have a higher chance of mortality than those who sit for less than 4 hours a day with 1 hour of exercise. Fortunately, some specialists have found that daily exercise can offset the damage done by prolonged sitting.

Here are some ways to get moving while back on the clock. Of course check with your doctor before taking on any of these stretching exercises:

Stretches you can do at your desk:

To loosen a stiff neck-

  1. Sit tall with a straight back. Lower your right ear towards your right shoulder. Hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat on the left side.
  2. Just as an owl moves, turn your head to the right and look as far over your shoulder as you can without straining your neck. Hold for a few seconds and gently release. Repeat on the left side.
  3. In a swaying motion, slowly drop your chin down towards your chest and gently rock your head from left to right a few times.

To loosen your lats-

  1. With your fingers interlaced, reach up towards the sky as high as you can. Keep your palms facing the ceiling, relax, and repeat a few times.
  2. Reach your right arm up over your head with fingertips pointed towards the ceiling. Gently bend towards the left, reach, and hold for a few seconds. Repeat on the left side.

To stretch your chest-

  1. Sit up tall, place your hands behind your back and press your palms together. Hold for a few seconds and repeat.

To stretch your shoulders-

  1. Raise both of your shoulders towards your ears and hold. Release after a few seconds and repeat.

To stretch your hamstrings-

  1. Sit straight up and extend your right arm up towards the ceiling. Straighten your left leg parallel to the ground. Simultaneously move your leg up and your arm down as you reach to touch your foot. Repeat a few times on each side.

Exercises you can do at your desk:


There’s no need to get on the floor if you’re worried about office germs. Utilize your desk or the wall for a modified push-up.

Triceps dips-

You can use your desk or your chair, just make sure it doesn’t roll away mid dip. Place your hands behind you shoulder width apart on your chosen apparatus. Extend your legs out in front of you in a reverse plank-like position. Bend your arms to dip down, and then straighten them to return to your original position. Don’t completely straighten your arms, as keeping a slight bend in the elbows protects your joints.

Jog in place-

In 45 second intervals, stand up and start moving your legs. Repeat 5 times. If you want a more intense challenge, try bringing your knees to waist level.

Ghost jump rope-

Pretend you have a rope in hand and jump rope as you normally would. You can alternate between hopping on both feet and one at a time. Add arm movements for extra burn.

Calf raises-

This is a great exercise to do while waiting for those long documents to print or while your coffee brews. Hold on to something for balance and support, raise your heels off of the floor and then lower back down. Complete 3-4 sets of 10.

Glute squeeze-

Squeeze your glute muscles as hard as you can, hold for 10-30 seconds and relax. Repeat several times.

Wall sit-

Find a stable wall (cubicle walls aren’t going to cut it) and stand with your back flat against the wall. Lower yourself into a seated position and hold, hold, hold. Aim for 3-4 sets of 10-30 seconds.


Keep it stationary or make a trip down the hall. Place one leg in front of the other and bend the knee of your back leg down towards the ground. Straighten your bent knee and repeat about 10 times on each leg.

Shoulder Press-

Find something that weighs a few pounds, like a ream of paper. Hold the object parallel to the ground at shoulder height with arms outstretched, and then raise it up towards the ceiling. Repeat 10-12 reps 3 times.

Other office hacks:

Park further away-

If you have a reserved parking spot consider loaning it out for a month. Parking at the furthest end of the car park is an unavoidable way to get some extra steps in throughout the day.

Take the stairs-

Skip the email-

Take advantage of any opportunity you have to get up and walk to someone’s office. Not only will you get some extra movement in, you might also find your work relationships blossoming with more face time.

Turn your meeting into a marathon-

Instead of holding your meeting in a stuffy office around an awkward table, take it outside and go for a stroll around your building. Exercise can improve brain function and the extra stimulation can help spark new and creative ideas.

Turn your coffee break into a walking break-

Take the long way to the kitchen and maybe even do a few laps around the office while you wait for your coffee. Challenge yourself to see how many rounds you can do before your cup is full.

Adding spurts of movement and exercise into your day is a great way to offset the negative effects of sitting. Mix up your routine and get creative by finding what items around your office can double as weights, and how you can reinvent daily tasks to burn some calories. Remember to check with your doctor before taking on these, or any other exercise or stretching routines.


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