Workout while you work!

Dear Raphael,
I work long hours in my job and have 2 kids who keep me busy at home. Except for a 20-minute walk at lunchtime, finding time to exercise is just not possible. Is there anything I can do at my desk during the day to get some type of workout for my muscles?

You’re not alone. Not having time to exercise is the number one reason people give for not exercising. I do like the fact that you’re walking 20 minutes at lunch time. This shows you’re trying and really care about your health.

Don’t worry. I’m providing 5 easy to perform movements that you can do at your desk while at work. The exercises will help to get your muscles tighter and keep your mobility intact.

If possible, try to do these exercises in succession. If you’re unable to, then perform 2-3 exercises in a row and then continue the program when time permits. Ideally, I recommend doing the exercises twice per day while at work. However, it’s designed for you to use whenever possible during the long work day.

Perform 12-15 repetitions for each exercise (excluding the Abdominal vacuum) and then repeat each an additional time. The exercises can be performed each day.

Abdominal vacuum

Starting position:
• Sit tall in your chair

Movement:
• Start by exhaling absolutely every bit of air from your lungs.
• Pull the navel towards the spine as if I just told you to suck in your stomach. Continue to breathe lightly through your nostrils, but make sure you’re pulling your navel in as tight as possible.
• You must hold the contraction very tight for at least 40 seconds.
• Benefit: In time, you’ll notice the abdominal area pulled in flatter. This exercise provides benefit with no crunches or repetitious movement.

Seated office chair leg extension

Starting position:
• Sit on your office chair with your feet on the floor spaced about 12 inches apart.

Movement:
• Contracting the quadriceps muscles, extend one leg (bending at the knee) until it is straight. The toes should be pointed up.
• Slowly return to the starting position.
• After completing the set on one side (12-15 reps), repeat on the other side.

Key points: • Exhale while lifting the leg.
• Inhale while returning to the starting position.

Water bottle alternating front shoulder raise

Starting position:
• Sit straight with your knees slightly bent and feet shoulder-width apart.
• Hold a water bottle in your right hand with your arm in front of you and your palms lightly resting on your thighs

Movement:
• Contracting the front shoulder muscles, lift your right arm in front of you until it is slightly above shoulder height.
• Slowly return the right arm to the starting position stopping just short of the weight touching your legs.
• Raise and lower your left arm in the same manner.
• After completing 12-15 reps on the right side, switch to the left.

Water bottle biceps curl

Starting position:
• Sit upright, feet forward and your head a natural extension of your spine.
• Hold a water bottle in your right hand with the arms hanging down at your sides and palms facing your body.
• Keep your wrists straight throughout the exercise.

Movement:
• Contracting the biceps muscles, bend your right arm at the elbow while turning your wrist until your palm is just short of touching your shoulder.
• Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of the elbow fully extending.
• After 12-15 repetitions, repeat on the other side.

Key points:
• The upper arm should remain stationary throughout the exercise.

One-arm tricep kickback

Starting position:
• While seated, bend forward very slightly.
• Hold a water bottle in your right hand or just make a fist. Bend the elbow at a 90-degree angle pointing behind you with the upper arm not quite parallel to the floor.

Movement:
• Contracting your triceps muscles, move your lower arm back until the bottle or fist is pointing away from your body to the rear of the room.
• Slowly return to the starting position.
• After completing the set on the right side, repeat on the left side.

Key point: • Your upper arm should remain stationary throughout the exercise.

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