by Rebecca Lingerfelt, DPT
Do you ever find that you are spending too much time sitting throughout the day? At the office, in the car, watching TV; whatever the reason, our country has become much more sedentary. Everyone knows the importance of physical activity, but where can you find the time to squeeze in an hour at the gym some days??? If you can’t get to the gym (read our earlier blog, Runner’s Six-pack, for an efficient workout) or don’t lead a very active lifestyle, here are a few things that can help you multitask physical activity with work and other obligations. The American Heart Association recommends 30-60 minutes of aerobic activity most, if not all, days of the week. So these ideas are not a perfect solution for your physical activity needs, but a little something is at least better than nothing at all. Remember to check with your doctor or physical therapist first before starting any exercise program.
Due to most sedentary jobs, you need to learn to change positions and stretch frequently as well as strengthening. I recommend doing 10-15 repetitions at a time and doing a few sets throughout your day.
1.) Sitting down, start with your hands on your arm rests and do dips, raising your body off the seat and back again. To make it harder (and double check that your desk chair can support your weight and does not have wheels!), raise your feet off the ground before pushing up with the arms.
2.) Raise your arms straight out to the sides. Make small circles, first forward then backward, keeping it controlled. To make it more difficult, hold your stapler or another such weight in each hand.
3.) Extend your leg completely then bend just a little and straighten again. Do this 10 times without letting the foot all the way down to the floor. Repeat with the other leg. Also try marching in place while sitting.
4.) This is a great core exercise that can be done in a chair. Raise both legs, holding something between feet or just holding your feet together. Be sure to sit upright without letting your back touch the chair and try not to hold on with your hands. You can hold your legs up or slowly raise and lower without touching the ground. Don’t hold your breath.
5.) Next, standing, you can do push-ups against the wall or at the edge of a desk or counter. Be sure to not jut your chin forward too much and to keep the shoulders relaxed.
6.) Holding onto something for balance, kick one leg to the side. After 10 reps, switch to other side. Make sure you keep your upper body still and not leaning to each side.
7.) Rise up on your toes and slowly lower. Start with holding onto something for balance and on both feet. Try each foot separately for a bigger challenge. You can also try shifting your weight to the balls of your feet and trying to stand still as long as you can, a great way to get your muscles working if you have to stand for a long time.
8.) Lastly, do partial squats while holding onto something with feet and knees hip-width apart. Many people stand with their knees locked or weight shifted to a single side, and this does not foster good body alignment or muscle training. Squats give you a chance to wake up the legs and get the blood flowing through those muscles. Best technique is to stick your rear end out like you’re about to sit in a chair and don’t let your knees move in front of your toes.
Try these out your next workday and see how you feel! Be consistent with your exercising because it takes time to see successful results, but don’t get discouraged early on. Every little bit helps, so start today to establishing a more active lifestyle!
All images courtesy of PhysioTools Online ®
Dr. Lingerfelt is a Physical Therapist at Boston Sports Medicine