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First-Year Associates Home > Associate Lifestyle > Health & Fitness
Associate Lifestyle
Health & Fitness

Staying Fit When You're Trapped Behind a Desk

One of the biggest adjustments many new associates face is the decrease in physical activity that comes with moving from the classroom to a desk-bound job in an office. Couple this with too many meals eaten at that same desk and you may be feeling the need for a little exercise.

Sounds nice, but how do you fit exercise into your busy schedule? Here are some tips that can help you shed a few pounds and stay more alert on the job without altering your routine significantly.

Walk Whenever Possible
Begin before you even get to your desk. Park a little further from the office. Take the stairs whenever possible. Get off the elevator a few floors early and walk the rest of the way. If you have to see someone on a different floor, walk. Try using a rest room on a different floor if possible.

In your office, try to stay as active as you can. Use a speaker phone or an ear piece with a microphone and walk around your office while you talk. Make it a point to get up at least once an hour and stretch just to loosen your muscles or walk to the drinking fountain.

Exercises You Can Do at Your Desk
In addition to staying active there are lots of exercises you can do while sitting or standing at your desk that work on specific parts of your body. If you're not comfortable keeping small weights or other pieces of equipment around your office, you might use something as simple as a water bottle to add some heft to many of these exercises. Also, squeezing a stress ball from time-to-time might help you relieve tension in your hands and wrists.

Relax your shoulders and let your head roll forward, chin to chest. Slowly rotate your head in a circle without straining your neck. Repeat five times. Relax. Then rotate in the opposite direction and repeat five times. Try not to raise your shoulders as you do this exercise.

Keeping your head upright, hold the palm of one hand against your forehead, and press your head forward, resisting with your palm. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Now clasp your hands behind your head, and press your head backward, resisting with your hands. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Now hold your right hand against the side of your head, and press your head to the right, resisting with your hand. Again, hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Then repeat on left side.

Lift your shoulders as if you were shrugging them and hold this position for 15 seconds. Release your shoulders and repeat the movement.

Lift your left arm straight up and lean your head to the left, keeping your eyes forward. Let your left hand rest on your right ear. Switch sides and repeat this stretch.

Standing upright, push both arms straight back with your palms facing down and hold for five seconds. Bend in arms at the elbow (like a hinge), fingers pointing straight ahead, and hold for five seconds. Repeat five to 10 times.

From a standing position, clasp your hands and hold them close to your right shoulder, as though resting an ax there. Gently swing the ax by straightening your elbows and moving your hands toward your left thigh. Raise your clasped hands to your left shoulder, and swing the ax toward your right thigh. Repeat on both sides seven or eight times.

Sit erect in a chair. Raise your arms so that elbows are flared in an outward position and hands are at shoulder level in front of your body. Keep hands at shoulder level and push your elbows as high as you can, isolating the pressure on your shoulders. Repeat 10 to 15 times. Perform the first few slowly and smoothly, the next few faster and more intense, and the last couple slow and smooth.

Place your fingertips on your shoulders, elbows pointing out to the sides. Pull your elbows back as far as you can. Push your elbows forward and try to touch them together. Repeat 10 times. Now, keeping your fingertips on your shoulders, lift your elbows up and then push them down to your sides, as if you're trying to fly. Repeat 10 times.

Lift your shoulders as high as you can. Bring them forward. Push them down. Pull your shoulders back, then return to starting position. Repeat in the opposite direction. Repeat three to five times.

Chest and Upper Body
Sit toward the edge of your chair facing forward. Extend your arms back, holding onto the middle of the chair with your chest lifted. Don't lock your elbows. Keep your chin off your chest.

Sit erect in a stationary chair with both feet flat on the floor. Looking straight ahead, tilt your torso slowly to the right as you reach around behind yourself with your right hand. Grasp the top-right corner of your chair with your right hand. Complete the stretch by moving your left hand as close as possible to your right hand. Stretch as far as you can and hold it for 15 seconds. Repeat four to six times, twisting left and right, aiming to turn the body a little farther each time.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold your bent elbows down at your sides with fists up. Lean slightly forward and twist side to side with your elbows leading the movement. Repeat for 30 to 45 seconds.

Stand with your feet spread shoulder-width apart. Raise one arm, then bend over sideways reaching over your head, until your arm is parallel to the floor (or as far as you can). Hold for five to 10 seconds. Repeat with other arm. Try not to bend forward as you lean to the right or left.

Clasp the fingers of your hands together and stretch your arms up straight over your head. Then, with your fingers still clasped, bring your arms down and straight in front of you. Unclasp your fingers and put both arms behind you, and then re-clasp your fingers and hold your arms straight behind you.

Stretch your arms up, one at a time, as high as you can, as if reaching to pick an apple out of a tree. Repeat 10 times, alternating sides.

Stand facing a wall, with your feet apart and about 12 inches from the wall. Rest your palms on the wall at about shoulder height. Bend your elbows and lean toward the wall as far as possible without touching your forearms to the wall. Keep your legs and back straight. Push yourself back to starting position. The farther from the wall you stand, the greater the shoulder effort needed to push back. Gradually increase your distance as you become stronger, but don't exceed two feet.

Extend your fingers, straight and separated, until tense. Hold that position for 10 seconds and then relax. Squeeze your fingers at the knuckles and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat several sets of these positions.

Hold one hand with the palm facing outward and with the other hand, gently pull the thumb downward. Repeat this action two or three times with each hand.

Hold one arm out in front of you with the elbow straight. With the other arm, slowly bend the wrist down and then slowly bend it back up. Repeat this exercise for three to five repetitions with each hand.

Touch the tip of your thumb on one hand to the tip of each finger in turn, making the circle as round as you can. Straighten your fingers in-between touching each finger. Repeat with the other hand.

Press hands together in front of chest, elbows bent and parallel to the floor. Gently bend wrists to the right and left.

Stomach and Waist
While sitting or standing, put your left hand on your right shoulder and slowly twist your torso from right to left. Repeat the motion with your right hand on your left shoulder.

Tighten your abdominal muscles and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat five times.

Hips and Buttocks
Stand in front of a chair and squat over the seat as if you’re going to sit. Repeat five times.

Tighten and squeeze your buttocks, hold five to ten seconds, and release. Repeat six to eight times. Concentrate on the squeeze for best results.

Sitting in chair, lift left foot off the floor a few inches, knee bent. Hold several seconds and repeat other side.

While seated, lift one knee and extend it forward without locking your knee and keep your toes curled. Hold this position for 20 seconds and then switch legs.

While sitting at your desk lift one leg, flexing your foot and then extend your leg in front of you. After a few seconds, bring the leg back toward you and set it down. Repeat the exercise with each leg five times.

Stand with your back against a wall and feet apart and about 16 inches from the wall. Lower yourself into a seated position, keeping feet flat on the floor, and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Return to standing and relax for 30 seconds. Repeat three times. Do not bend your knees beyond a 90-degree angle.

Stand with your feet comfortably apart, your toes turned slightly outward. Hold the back of a chair if you need support. Keep your back straight and slowly bend your knees over your toes. (Do not extend your knees beyond your toes to avoid stress on the knees.) Straighten, by pushing up through your feet.

From a standing position, extend one leg out in front of your other leg about l0 inches, lifting your toes and digging your heel into the ground. Bend the back leg slightly, and put both hands on the thigh of your back leg to support your weight. You should feel the stretch in the back of your front leg. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Now push the toes of the front leg down to the floor and hold for another 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Stand and hold on to something stable for support, such as a file cabinet or bookshelf. Slowly lift one heel toward your buttocks, then lower keeping the knee of the supporting leg slightly bent. Repeat 12 to 15 times on each side.

Stand at the side of a chair with your left hand holding the chair for balance. Grab your right foot with your right hand (or grab your pant leg if you cannot reach your foot). Using your hand, pull your foot toward your buttocks and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Your knee should be pointing downward, not out to the side. Repeat two to three times with each leg. Try removing your hand from the chair, little by little, as you hold the stretch.

Sit back in a chair and place your hands under your right thigh. Pull knee toward chest then extend the leg straight in front of you as far as you can. Repeat with your other leg. Do three to five times with each leg.

Stand up and roll back and forth on your heels and toes.

As with any physical activity, consult a doctor if you have any physical problems that might be aggravated by exercise.
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