One of the best things about working from home is that you can add a bit more movement into your day without being awkward. While I used to work at a company where we routinely took a break to do team planks, I wasn’t about to bring my kettlebell or resistance band to my desk to do exercises by myself. But at home, I can break at least once per hour for a plank, set of squats, or deadlifts without judgment, except from my animals.
How do I not be sedentary with a desk job?
One of the most challenging things for most office workers is incorporating movement into the day, especially if you’re busy. But with many people still working from home and companies that have gone completely remote, it presents a brilliant opportunity to use this time at home to be more productive and healthier! Set yourself up for success in the home office by:
- Keeping exercise equipment where you can see it – If you spend most of your day at a desk in your home office, bring in your dumbbells and set them in the doorway so you’ll see them each time you enter and leave. Consider grabbing a resistance band and leaving it on your desk. The more your mind sees these items, the more likely you will pick them up and use them.
- Establishing a trigger – We’re far more likely to increase our movement if it’s something we’re doing at a predefined interval or with another task. If you’re looking to do a mini-set of exercises, plan to do them at a regular cadence. This may be hourly, every two hours, when you sit down in your chair, when you stand up, each time you return from the bathroom, etc. Not only will this set expectations, and your body will know movement is coming, but it’s also a habit stack, which is a proven effective method for adding new habits!
Now that you have your exercise equipment around and you know that you’ll be doing 10 quick reps of an exercise each time you return from the restroom (or whatever trigger you’ve chosen) grab something from the below list of exercises and get moving!
- Band pull aparts – Resistance bands are amazing and they are less intimidating than weights. If you sit at a computer all day, you need to do this exercise to avoid the shoulder slump that comes with hunching over your keyboard.
How to do it: Hold the resistance band straight out in front of your face with hands palm down about shoulder-distance apart, keeping tension in the band. You’ll slowly move hands out until arms are straight out from your shoulders. You should feel this pulling in the top and back of your shoulders and across your chest. If it feels too easy or too challenging, change your grip on the band by moving hands closer to increase or further apart to lower resistance. Aim to do 15-20 reps.
- Air squats – Squats are a simple exercise that you can make easier or more difficult depending on depth, and if you want to add weight over time. Squats work your glutes and can be a great way to stretch out your hips that can get tight from sitting.
How to do it: Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-distance with toes pointed slightly out. Hinge at the hips and begin to move your butt backward as if you’re going to sit into a chair. Sit back as far as you can while making sure to keep your chest up, aiming to get your thighs parallel to the ground. Once you’ve gone as low as you can, return to a neutral standing position. Aim to do 10-15 reps.
- Kettlebell deadlift – This exercise is great for strengthening your hamstrings, lower back, and glutes, which you’ll especially need if you’re someone who sits most of the day. It’s critical to start with a light weight or no weight until you get the hang of the movement as this can cause back injuries if done incorrectly or with too much weight.
How to do it: Stand with feet at hip-width and hold your kettlebell neutral resting in front of your pelvis. If you’re using dumbbells, hold one in each hand just over your thighs. Keeping a slight bend in your knees, begin to hinge from the hips and lower the weights like you’re bending over to pick something up. It’s critical to keep your back neutral and not to create a curvature of the spine. Just like with the air squat, keep your chest proud and neck neutral. Once your weight(s) hit mid-shin, return to standing. You should feel a slight pull along the backs of your legs. This movement is best done slow and controlled. There is absolutely no need for speed! Aim for 10-15 reps.
- Plank – The core is vitally important for desk workers to strengthen. A strong core can lessen lower back pain, and the plank is one of the best and easiest exercises to do so.
How to do it: Get down onto the floor in a push-up position with hands tracking under your shoulders. This exercise can be done from your knees or toes based on experience and comfort. It can also be done from your forearms if the straight arm is too much pressure. Set a timer for 10-30 seconds (or more if you’re feeling frisky!) and lift your hips so that hips are in line with shoulders and your body is straight like a plank! Hold your position, squeezing your abs tight until the timer is up.
- Neck roll – Last but certainly not least, a basic neck roll can help to relieve tension from your neck from staring down at your computer all day. This is especially necessary if your work from home situation isn’t exactly ergonomic (I see you work-from-bedders).
How to do it: This incredibly basic movement can do wonders for your neck. Start by looking straight ahead, preferably at something in the distance. Drop your left ear towards your left shoulder, then slowly rotate your head clockwise, taking chin to chest, right ear to right shoulder, and back of head to upper back. Do several circles, then reverse direction. If at any point you feel pain, stop immediately.
Performing these exercises several times a day can make a drastic difference in mobility and strength over time. They can also serve to help break up your day and make things a little more interesting! Enjoy!