Reduce Stress With
Office Exercise

Imaginative office exercise ideas that will diminish muscle tension.

Also, find out how to layout your work space, to prevent repetitive stress injuries.

Exercising in your office is about making life easier for yourself.

Whether you're having a good or bad day work-wise, any sort of exercise will make you feel better.

That's the key here. We're not focused on burning calories or improving cardio fitness. When you're at work, the focus should always be on work.

But making sure your body's not aching, and preventing stress levels going through the roof, all lead to a more productive and successful you.

Break up your work day to include some simple exercises (below). You can actually get more (and better) work done in fewer "working" hours.

Body and mind tend to switch off after 40-50 minutes of continuous work on a computer. A 5 minute office exercise break will refresh concentration and relieve muscles.

Great Ideas

A company that understands this more than most, is good old Google. They definitely know how to keep their employees happy in the office. And have reaped the rewards.

From things such as slides and fireman's poles between floors, to games rooms and massage areas. Their offices certainly are different!

Most companies don't have the budget for such things. Maybe they're just scared no-one will do any work! So you'll need to improvise with what you have.

Use Google's great ideas as motivation. Remember it's about working in "power time slots" and moving your body in-between.

Office exercises aren't everyone's cup of tea. You probably do have an open mind (that's why you're still reading, right?), but some of your colleagues may not.

The ones that give you stick (make jokes), are few and far between. My only response to them, is to get more people involved.

A great way to do this comes from hit TV show "The Office", in an episode called "Office Olympics". It's a fun way of getting the whole office/floor involved.

You could have your own office olympics once a week or month. You and your colleagues can brainstorm ideas for events suited to your work environment.

Once your office is relaxed to those activities, your everyday office exercises will become a normal part of working life.

Note: Consider your company's health and safety regulations when doing any office exercises.

Office Exercises

There are plenty of different types of exercises you can do in the office. Much depends on the space you have, and what kind of office building you're in.

Keep them simple and easy to remember. Or you could easily print these office exercises and keep them in view for your own personal use.

Before doing any office exercise, your joints should be well "oiled". Do some loosening up exercises whilst sitting or standing by your desk.

Depending on the joint, move it up and down, side to side or in circles. Start from your toes and work up. Be very gentle with your neck. Then give your arms and legs a quick shake.

Small Office Exercise Space

Here are some static (without movement) exercises and stretches you can do in your own work space:

  • Arm reach.. sitting or standing, reach your right arm as high as possible, keeping your elbow straight and head still. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax. Repeat with your left arm.
  • Triceps stretch.. sitting or standing, bend your right arm back behind your head, so that your palm is between your shoulder blades. Use your left hand to assist the stretch, by pushing your right elbow slightly back. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax. Repeat with your left arm.
  • Chest stretch.. sitting or standing, interlock your fingers behind your back. Making sure your shoulders stay back and down, lift your hands up as far as you can. Hold for 5 seconds. Relax.
  • Abs hold.. sitting in the middle of your chair, hold the edge of the seat with both hands. Contract your abs whilst lifting your knees towards your chest (keeping knees together). Hold for 5 seconds. Relax. Make sure you don't lean back whilst holding.
  • Lower back stretch.. sitting in the middle of your chair, both feet flat on the floor. Grip the top of your right knee with both hands, and pull it towards your chest. Hold for 5 seconds. Relax. Repeat with your left knee. Move your head slightly down towards your knee for further stretch.
  • Leg lift.. sitting in the middle of your chair, make sure you have some leg room in front of you. Use your quads (thigh muscles) to lift your right leg into the air (straight knee). Hold for 10 seconds. Relax. Repeat with your left leg.
  • Calf stretch.. standing with both feet pointing ahead, step your right foot forward. Bend your right knee and lean forward as far as you can, whilst keeping your left heel on the floor. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax. Repeat with your left foot forward. Push your hands against a wall for further stretch.
  • Isometrics.. these exercises involve tensing your muscles in a fixed position. You can use your body or fixed objects for resistance (e.g. pushing against a wall), but it's not absolutely necessary. You could just tense your bottom whilst sitting. Do them for any muscle.

  • Here are some dynamic (with movement) exercises you can do around common office areas (e.g. photocopy room):

  • Bent knee swings.. stand next to a solid object (wall, copier, desk). Bend your right knee and swing your right leg forward and back for 30 seconds. Rest your hand against the solid object for balance. Repeat with your left leg.
  • Squats.. for the simple squat, have your feet shoulder width apart. You can either:
    - bend your knees forward, so your bottom comes straight down, or
    - bend your knees in position, so your bottom goes back and down.

    Repeat for 30 seconds. There are many different squatting positions. You could lunge by stepping forward or back within a squat.

  • Stair shuttles.. use the stairs for 1 or 2 flights. Pump your knees and arms for a quick shuttle on the way upstairs. And come back down slowly, really working your quads with each step down (without holding rails).
  • Push ups.. you can do push ups anywhere there's a solid object. Against the wall, desk or door frame, for example.

  • Large Office Exercise Space

    If you're lucky enough to have a large personal office space, or your own office, there's even more scope for exercise.

    Store some simple equipment in there. An exercise ball (see below), ab wheel, some free weights, a skipping rope. They're all great and don't take up much space.

    Visit here to find exercises for the above equipment.

    Exercise Balls - Good For The Office?

    Would you replace your office chair with an exercise ball? Many people have, and say it's helped them. Although I have to confess, I haven't.

    I like to be comfortable when I'm working. As long as I keep good posture on my chair (more below), I'm happy with doing the above office exercises every hour. That's just my preference.

    You may have more difficulty keeping good posture. You may find it comfortable to sit on! You may even be motivated by the improved core strength and balance. Some people find it focuses their concentration.

    Try sitting on it at home whilst watching the TV, before you take it into work. See how long you last. It's pretty tough at first.

    My advice? Don't get rid of your chair. If you have the space, keep the exercise ball in your office. Do some core exercises on it 2 or 3 times in the day. That'll help your posture too.

    You could try an exercise ball chair, although you might just end up sitting with poor posture again. The Swopper has good reviews, but I haven't tried it yet. Let me know what you think, if you have!

    Tips For A Better Work Space Layout

    Simply said, the right office layout can prevent years of head, neck and back aches. Here are my top tips:

  • Position your monitor in-line with, and the mouse directly next to, the keyboard.
  • Clear clutter, keep your most used items (phone, fax) within reach.
  • Keep your wrists straight when typing.
  • Relax your shoulders (i.e. not raised).
  • Keep your neck as straight as possible. Make sure the monitor isn't too high or too low.
  • Maintain good sitting posture. Back straight. Don't slouch forward, backwards or to the sides. Get the height of your chair right.
  • Position lighting so it's reflected away from your eyes (off the screen).
  • Sit a comfortable distance from the screen, so that your eyes aren't strained.

  • Final Word

    Office exercise is an important part of our working lives. The mass office working culture has led to more sedentary lifestyles. Combined with a poor diet, you're asking for trouble.

    The good news is, we know that's the problem. Now we just need to take active steps to solve it. Office exercise is exactly that, an active step.

    Use office exercise as a way to enjoy your work (if you don't already!). Our working life takes up most of our time. If you don't enjoy yours, chances are, you're not enjoying life.

    Improve your (working) life with office exercise.

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