5 exercises to keep you moving on your desk

Here are some exercises to keep you moving while you’re on your desk, playing a console—or just stuck at home during the lockdowns.

By now, we’re pretty familiar with the lockdown and what to expect (season 3 y’all!). First on the list, of course, is being cooped up at home and looking at your screens for hours on end. For a lot of us, we’ve already resigned to being chained at our desks the whole day, and just getting out of it to eat or sleep.

But it’s worth noting that being stuck to your desks all day comes with real risks to your health. Studies have shown that spending most of your time sitting or lying down with little to no exercise—called a sedentary lifestyle—can increase your risk of chronic diseases. Even worse: having a sedentary lifestyle can lead to poor outcomes for your mental health.

That said, we know it’s not easy to just get up and get moving in the middle of the lockdown, especially since most of us are stuck at home and have little wiggle room to start working out. In our latest episode, we talked to Kit de Silva of Luces Living to learn more about how we can take care of our health as we’re cooped up in this lockdown. (Read: Holistic business – Luces Living shines a light on how technology can help a woman-led business)

Get your workspace ready

For starters, you can optimize your work/play area to improve your posture. de Silva recommends having your chair and desk height to be parallel to your arms, so you don’t strain your arms and wrist as you type (or play). If you’re working with a monitor, make sure that it’s an arm’s length from you and leveled to your eyes.

Make sure that your hips and your feet at firmly grounded to a flat surface and that your knees are lower than your hips. Finally, be mindful of your posture, in particular, engaging the shoulder blades as you work.

And keep a jug of water beside you, so you’re hydrated—your joints will thank you.

Getting physical behind the desk

Just because you’re facing a screen all day, that doesn’t mean you can’t take care of your body. Talking to The EXP Show with Franz and Bea, de Silva shared some yoga exercises you can do while you’re at your desks.

“Yoga, in particular, helps increase memory and concentration levels. [It also] strengthens our upper back, improves our posture and eases the tension in our shoulders and chest muscles,” she adds.

It also helps us improve our breathing—something we take for granted while working, leaving us feeling tired and winded. Practicing these movements also comes with an added benefit: It helps us clear our mind and improves our focus.

Here are some yoga movements to do while you’re working from your desks (or playing your favorite game—we’re not judging).

If you’re just like the rest of us and slouch all the time, here’s an exercise that helps target the shoulders and the upper back.

  • Inhale as you send your shoulders upwards to your ears. You should feel your shoulder blades come to the middle of the back as you breathe.
  • Relax your shoulders as you exhale. Make sure you’re stretching your spine and you’re creating space on your throat to breathe as you rotate your shoulders.
  • Repeat. Remember to connect your breath with the movement as you do so.

To improve your spinal mobility, here’s a neat exercise you can follow while you’re sitting on a chair.

  • Plant your feet, then inhale as you stretch your arms upward (as if you’re trying to touch the ceiling). You should feel your spine stretching as you do this.
  • From there, twist your torso to the left. Let your right hand fall on your left knee, and set your left hand at the back of your chair (or extend it).
  • In this position, remember that your waist is squared—that is, it’s still facing in front and not twisted—and you’re looking at your left shoulder.
  • Repeat on the other side. Remember to connect your breath with the movement!
franz stretch desk exercise
Franz is demonstrating how to stretch, so you can follow. (Optional: smiling on cam)

A great way to engage your spine is to do a variation of a cat-cow pose on your desk—no need to go on all fours!

bea cow pose
Bea demonstrating the cow pose
  • Breathe in as you send your heart up and lengthen your spine. You’ll probably look like you’re soaking the sun at your desk, and that’s okay.
  • Breathe out as you try to bring your shoulders together and put your chin on your chest.
  • Repeat. Find a rhythm and remember to connect your breath with the movement as you do so.
Bea with the cat pose.

You can also do a side bend to limber up your hips.

  • Similar to the last exercise, plant your feet, then stretch your arms upward (as if you’re trying to touch the ceiling). You should feel your spine stretching as you do this.
  • From there, send your right hand down, grabbing the edge of the chair as you do this.
  • Inhale to create space on your back as you bend to the right.
  • Repeat on the other side. Again, remember to connect your breath with the movement!
side bend franz desk exericses
Regularly doing side bends works wonders if you’re always sitting down.

Beyond your body, de Silva also mentions that you should also take care of your eyes—and it makes sense, given we’re using them for hours on end.

To give your eyes a much-needed break, here’s an easy “eye yoga” exercise to follow.

  • Rub the palms of your hand to create heat. You should feel some warmth as the rubbing creates friction.
  • Gently cup your warm hands over your eyes to feel relief.
bea pc exercise eyes
Sobrang immediate relief, napangiti si Bea.

All things considered, being stuck in a lockdown shouldn’t be a reason to skimp on our health. On the contrary, it should be a time where we focus more on our health and deal with it holistically—so you can work and play better.

Ready to learn more ways to improve your health and wellness while you’re cooped up at home? How about you listen to our latest podcast at The EXP Show with Franz and Bea?

If you like reading our content, why not show your appreciation by treating us to a cup of coffee? (or two, if you’re feeling generous)

Ralph Gurango

explainer | newsman | jrpg adventurer

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