When you're at work, leaving the office for some fresh air can change your day. But if you're swamped with work and tied to your desk, this isn't always a viable option. Even if you can't leave, you can still treat your body to a quick stretching session. Watch this video for three moves that will relieve stress in your shoulders, neck, back, and wrists in less than a minute.
Even when you try your hardest to schedule in a sweat session during the day, let's face it — it's not always going to happen. It doesn't mean you have to give up entirely on burning some extra calories. Here are some easy ways to sneak a little fitness into your day when you can't hit the gym.
- Brush and squat: Two minutes is the recommended time for brushing your teeth, and if you brush three times a day, that's six minutes you can do squats.
- Dry and lift: Blow-drying your hair is another opportunity to work it instead of just standing there. Do standing booty kicks or knee lifts.
- Leave the car keys at home: With the weather warming up, you can do something healthy for you as well as Mother Earth by leaving your car at home and slipping on your sneaks or hopping on your bike. Walking or biking even 20 minutes will burn some calories, strengthen your lower body, and get your blood flowing to help you be more alert once you arrive at your job. If the office is too far, drive or take the bus and park a mile or so away and walk the rest. Bonus — you'll get another little workout at the end of the day when it's time to go home.
- Bathroom push-ups: For the three or more times you hit the ladies' room each day, take an extra two minutes to do some push-ups against the counter after you wash your hands.
- Faraway loo: Choose the bathroom that's farthest away from your desk, maybe one on a floor above you so you need to take the stairs.
- Strength train at your desk: Work your abs, inner thighs, quads, tush, and upper body by doing these moves while sitting at your desk — no one will even know!
- Work it in line: Whether you're waiting in line to grab lunch or to buy your groceries, make the most of your standing time by doing heel raises, glute squeezes, or Tree Pose, or pick up something in your cart and do bicep curls.
- Living room workout: At the end of a busy day, the last thing you want to do is slip on your sports bra and head to the gym. If couch time is your idea of an evening workout, make the most of the commercial breaks with these five moves using just your couch and table.
If a 9-to-5 desk job leaves your back aching and sore, you don't have to take the pain sitting down. Here are some ways to prevent discomfort and tension in your spine.
- Switch your chair for a ball: Weak abs and back muscles can be one cause of your pain, as well as poor posture from slouching over your keyboard. Since sitting on a stability ball forces you to sit up straight and use your core, making the switch will not only help alleviate back pain, it'll also help you look better in your swimsuit. Start off with a few 20-minute sessions until you gradually work up to a full day.
- Take five: Sitting at a desk for hours on end can lead to tight shoulders, hips, and hamstrings, all of which can pull and put pressure on your spine, causing pain. Regularly stretching these areas will increase your flexibility, offering instant relief and preventing discomfort down the road. Set your phone or computer alarm every 60 minutes to take a stretching break; include these yoga poses for hip and back pain as well as these neck, chest, and shoulder stretches.
- Noon workout: Break up your day by exercising on your lunch break to increase circulation and warm up your tight muscles. Focus on workouts that strengthen your abs and back and finish up with stretches for the hip flexors, lower back, and shoulders.
- Find opportunities to stand: Walk over to your co-workers to chat with them instead of relying on instant message, take your phone calls or meetings for a walk, and if your company allows for it, get an adjustable desk that allows you to stand while working.
- Ergonomics: Many companies call in a professional to check their workers' desks to make sure they're set up properly, so take advantage of this service. A simple adjustment to your chair height could be the fix you need to end your back pain.
Lots of things can affect your energy levels, like whether you've gotten enough sleep the night before or if you're coming down with a cold. If you've been hit with a sudden urge to nap, here's how to reenergize your day.
You are what you eat: Feeling sluggish? It could be what you ate. Fried, high-fat, or sugary foods can zap your energy, but others can help you reenergize without the need for a cup of coffee or a long nap. Quantity and quality both matter when it comes to eating for energy; don't stuff yourself at lunch, for example — an overly large midday meal may be the reason for your heavy lids in the afternoon. And choose natural, low-processed foods instead of refined carbs and oils. Read more about what food habits will help you reenergize here.
Time for a break: Sitting or lying in one place or staring at the screen can lead to lethargy. Just moving around may be all you need to wipe away that lazy feeling. Make sure you're moving regularly, even just in your chair, to stay awake when you feel like you want to snooze. Keep alert and stay tension-free with these four essential stretches for office workers; feel free to do them at home if you're lying on the couch!
Chances are, if you're sitting at a desk, you're hunching. Rounded shoulders and back are symptoms of all those hours spent sitting in a chair. While the long-term solution to the problem is to create an ergonomic desk environment, for immediate relief of tension and strain, take two minutes to do these quick stretches now to realign your shoulders, straighten up, and feel better fast.
While you do this stretch, focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together to open your shoulders.
- Stand and reach both hands behind you, below your back.
- Hold your left wrist with your right hand and use your right hand to gently pull and straighten your left arm away from you.
- Move your head to your right side to give your neck a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and switch.
Read on for one more one-minute stretch to do in your office.
Making a few simple switches to your office routine can help you feel healthier all day long. Feeling tired, sluggish, and stuck no longer has to be the status quo. These 25 helpful tips will change your relationship with your desk.
- Keep water close: Staying hydrated will keep you in tip-top condition. Refill your bottle when you get up from your desk, or set an alarm to remind yourself to sip.
- Have snacks handy: Forget runs to the vending machine for junk or soda that will make you crash. Keep a drawer stocked with some healthy, satisfying snacks.
- Clean your keyboard: Keyboards are laden with germs, but it's simple to clean your desktop keyboard with just a few steps and products.
- Pack your lunch: Bringing a healthy brown-bag lunch from home can help you keep close tabs on the ingredients in your food. It will also be easier to make sure you're getting all your essential nutrients.
- Take a stretch break: Sitting for hours upon end can leave muscles feeling stiff and sore. These four desk stretches will give your body a little love.
- Don't OD on caffeine: A quick cup of coffee can boost energy, but don't overload. Headaches, upset stomachs, and nervous feelings can all come from too much caffeine. Green tea is always a great option for the afternoon slump.
- Get outside when you can: Being productive at your desk is important, but just a little fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for your mood and energy. Take your breaks outside when possible.
- Connect with co-workers: Fulfilling all your work obligations is obviously essential, but taking time to chat with coworkers for a few minutes helps you de-stress and unwind before getting back to business.
- Buy a plant: Beyond connecting us to the natural world and making employees happier, plants can help improve air quality in your office.
- Have tissues close: No more sleeves or searching for an old napkin after a sneeze attack. Seeing a box of tissues will also remind you to wipe down regularly.
- Personalize your space: You live a huge part of your life at your desk, so make it feel like home. Bring in some fresh flowers and photos for a little face-lift.
- Keep spare gym gear: Forget rushing home and stressing out before an impromptu workout session. Always have a change of gym clothes in your drawer for when plans switch — or the mood strikes.
Read on for 13 more ways to keep your desk healthy!
Relaxation is key to stress management; it can change the way you react to problems that arise. While pounding the pavement might be your favorite form of stress management, taking a run during the middle of a workday isn't always a possibility. Here are five techniques to help you get through a potentially stressful day.
1. Before heading into the office: Whether you're gearing up for a presentation or starting a new project, a five-minute meditation session will help bring better focus to your day. Start by sitting in a comfortable position and close your eyes. You can do guided meditation via CD, app, or video, or simply guide yourself in silence. Keep the focus on your breath and when your mind wanders, bring it back to a singular affirmative thought.
2. At your desk: You don't need to sit with your legs crossed under your desk to do breathing techniques in the office; taking a few deep breaths at your desk can sometimes be just as effective. Choose a screensaver or relaxing video to focus your eyes on, then take a deep inhale. Hold that breath for five to 10 seconds before releasing it out; repeat this sequence three to four more times. This exercise allows you to stay present and move on from any issue that is causing anxiety.
3. During your lunch break: Journaling can be an effective outlet for stress. Go somewhere peaceful during your break, like a bench outside of your office. Even if you only have time to journal for 10 minutes, it can be enough to express your frustration and let go of any negative thoughts.
See how to get rid of work stress once you leave the office after the break!
The workplace can be a party for germs. Protect yourself and your co-workers by preventing some of the airborne illnesses that go around. Here are three quick fixes you can make today for better health, immunity, and even concentration for the workweek.
Get a plant or succulent for your desk top: Although they're also pretty to look at, plants help with air quality. Potted plants have been used for their ability to elevate mood and concentration and reverse indoor pollution. Scientific research has even been able to prove these live desk ornaments are better air regulators than a mechanical humidifier. Go for Bamboo Palm, Chrysanthemums, or Peace Lillies for the full effect.
Open a window if you can: It's no surprise that good ventilation decreases airborne infections. Even hospitals are brushing the dust off their window sills to let in the fresh air. While sanitizing your space can be beneficial to fighting germs, simply opening a window may be even more beneficial, and less costly. Cleaning a surface in excess can fight even the good microbes in an area, while opening your window will simply ward off the bad ones by circling in fresh air.
Keep an antibacterial gel at your desk: The workspace is full of handshaking, touching elevator keys, and sharing doorknobs, so washing your hands is crucial. By keeping an alcohol-based sanitizing gel at your desk, you can make sure you keep the germs off without having to run to the restroom after every encounter. It also serves as a handy cleaner for others to use while they visit your side of the office.
Start your workout well before you hit the gym tonight, beginning at your desk! In a matter of minutes, a few simple changes will keep you healthy, increase your productivity, and even contribute to abs of steel. Not only will these changes go into effect immediately — think instantly improved posture — but they will also contribute to your overall health for years to come. Consider these tips and make the change; this might be what your next workout needs to go from good to great.
Lunchtime can be crucial for resetting your focus to avoid that midafternoon slump. What you do around the noon hour can change the rest of your day for good — even if you skipped breakfast or showed up late to work. Try to make the most of your time with one (or all) of these helpful tips and see if it makes a difference in your work.
Get moving: You don't need to run the stairs in your office attire to increase your heart rate. If you can't squeeze in a lunchtime workout, doing something a little less exerting like walking to your lunch spot instead of going to the deli downstairs can give you that extra kick you need. If you bring your lunch to work — well, kudos to you! Use the extra time to walk somewhere for a beverage or find a place to eat your homemade meal instead of having it at your desk, which can lead to mindless eating.
Eat energizing foods: Instead of fats and heavy carbs that can weigh you down, look for a healthy lunch that can pick you up. Lean protein like chicken, salmon, and hard-boiled eggs is a must for lunch because you're doing most of your productivity during the day. Pair it with fresh fruits or vegetables to bring you back to your office chair feeling satisfied and awake.
Breathe fresh air: Getting out of your workplace can change your energy on its own, so going outdoors and getting a gust of wind in your lungs is even more energizing. If you're at work, it's not likely that you'll walk into a serene landscape once you open the doors, but even in the middle of a bustling city, you can find peace in open air.
See more ways to energize during your lunch hour after the break!