For those of us who have desk jobs, it’s easy to let our bodies get lazy. We sit for long periods of time with our eyes glued to our computer screens. We often forget that we should be giving our body some exercise throughout the day, even during work hours. 

Now I know what you’re thinking: “But I don’t have time to exercise when I’m working.” It’s actually easier than you think to squeeze in mini workouts throughout the day, even if the majority of your job is spent sitting at a desk. In fact, taking time to exercise a little here and there will actually make you even more productive.

Here are seven ways to get your workout in during your desk job.

Stretch It Out

It’s amazing what simple stretching can do for your body. When you’re working, stress and tension tend to tighten up your muscles. An easy solution is to stand and stretch out your arms and legs, loosening up that tightness. Without hurting yourself, bend down to touch your toes, then reach up slowly. Roll your shoulders to relieve any tension building up there. You don’t have to stretch for long periods of time. You only need a few minutes here and there throughout the day. 

In addition to relieving any muscle tension, stretching can also help you mentally clear your mind, which ultimately contributes to your overall productivity.

Do Chair Yoga

For those moments you don’t feel like standing up, give chair yoga a try. Inhale deeply, raising your arms to the ceiling and allowing your shoulder blades to slide down your back. Also, alternate between stretching with your left arm on your right knee, right arm on the back of the chair, and stretching the same way with your right arm on your left knee. Hold each stretch for about 60 seconds. When you feel your tension released and your clarity renewed, you’re ready to go back to work.

Practice Meditative Breathing

Yes, we breathe regularly to stay alive, but consciously breathing can help discharge 70 percent of your body’s toxins. You should practice breathing deeply and slowly from your abdomen, as opposed to breathing rapidly from your chest. As you focus on your breathing, allow yourself to fall into a meditative state. Turn off your thoughts for at least 60 seconds, breathing deeply and allowing yourself to center your mind, body, and spirit. Doing so will release more toxins, get more oxygen pumping in your bloodstream, and give you better focus to tackle that looming work deadline.

Reduce Stress by Yawning

According to Forbes, some neuroscientists say simply yawning can help reduce stress. The act of yawning is similar to a super-brief meditative state. It sends the message to your brain that your body is powering down, which immediately causes your body to relax. Give it a try when you don’t have time to meditate before that big meeting. 

Do Some Chair Squats

These are similar to regular squats, only there’s actually a chair to sit on at the bottom of the squat. All it requires is standing up from your chair and sitting back down. Repeat about 10 times to get some good squat movement and blood pumping through your veins. Work those leg and glute muscles!

Hug Your Knees

This desk exercise is exactly what it sounds like. One leg at a time, lift your leg, knee bent, until you’re actually hugging your knee against your chest. You should feel your leg stretching as you hug it. Hold it for about 5 to 10 seconds before switching to the other leg.

Get Up and Move Whenever You Can

Okay, so technically this isn’t a “desk” exercise, but it doesn’t require you to necessarily move away from your desk. Whether it’s getting up and stretching your legs every so often to get a glass of water or even just standing up at your desk and taking a few steps in a circle before sitting right back down every now and then, there are ways to incorporate some movement into your humdrum work routine. 

The bottom line is, if you sit for too long every day, you’re more susceptible to health problems. You reduce blood and oxygen flow, and you are at greater risk of weight gain, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Forbes learned that men and women who sit for more than six hours a day are 18 percent and 34 percent more likely to die, respectively. In contrast, employees who fit in at least 45 minutes of exercise a week take 25 to 50 percent fewer sick days.

It doesn’t take much to move around every once in a while. No one’s expecting you to pull out 10-pound dumbbells from under your desk and pump it out every hour. Just regular, simple movements are all it takes to stay healthy and active.

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