As we get older many women recognize what physicians have called “middle-aged spread” attacking their waist and hips. The solution has always been to eat less, exercise more and help your body to maintain the best possible balance of hormones by eating a well-balanced diet high in raw fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, in the fast-paced world in which we live finding a 30 to 60 minute block of time in which to get exercise can be in next to impossible.
Remember though, what you value you will find time to do. There may be some days where you won’t be able to get in your 30 minute walk or your 45 minutes strength training, but there is no need to forgo all exercise for the day. Instead, incorporate some of these exercises that you can do from your desk in order to get your blood moving, stretch your muscles, increase your flexibility and improve your productivity.
Isometric exercises are the most popular and best ways to perform exercises when you don’t have a lot of space in which to perform. These are exercises where you contract muscles but there is no movement of the limb. In other words, it is like tensing up the muscle and then releasing it. Other movements which are easy to do in a chair are stretching exercises which help to improve flexibility and joint mobility.
1. Wrist stretches are done by extending the arm in front of you with your palm up. Grab the fingers with the other hand and gently pull the fingers toward you to stretch the forearm. Flip the wrist so the palm is down and pulled the fingers back towards you to stretch the other side of the forearm.
2. You can stretch your lower back by sitting tall and placing your left arm behind your left hip. Gently twist to the left using the right-hand to deepen the stretch and hold it for 15 to 30 seconds.
3. Leg extensions can be done to improve muscle strength in the quadriceps as well as work the core abdominal muscles. Sit tall in your chair and extend one leg until it is level with the hips. Squeeze the quadriceps muscles (thigh) and hold for two seconds. Lower the leg and repeat 15 times. Now repeat this on the other side.
4. Many women struggle with inner thigh muscles which are loose and jiggly. Use this exercise to improve muscle tone. Place a towel or an empty coffee can between the knees. Sit tall in your chair and pull your abdominal muscles in. Squeeze the towel, release halfway and squeeze again. Repeat this 12 times slowly.
5. Another area which is often covered with short sleeve shirts are the triceps. This is the area of the arm that jiggles when you wave goodbye. If you have a stable chair without wheels you can do dips at your desk. Be sure the chair is stable and place the hands directly next to your hips. Move your hips off the chair and lower the body until the elbows are at 90°. Push back up and repeat 16 times.
6. Using a full bottle of water you can also improve tricep tone by sitting directly up right in your chair with abdominal muscles pull in. Hold the bottle in one hand and lift it to shoulder level. Continue lifting all the way over the head and when the arm is next to the ear lower the elbow taking the water bottle all the way behind you. Straighten the arm and lower it down repeating 12 times with each arm.
7. Using that same water bottle you can also perform a bicep curl working the muscle on the opposite side of the arm as the tricep. Hold a water bottle in your hands and spine straight, curl the bottle towards the shoulder 16 times. Repeat this using your other arm.
8. Using the water bottle hold it at chest level with both hands and with knees and hips forward gently twist as far left as you can, feeling your abdominals contract. Twist back to the center and moved to the last for a total of 10 times. Do not force motion or you can injure your back.
9. After you’re finished with these exercises do not forget to stretch your lower legs, neck, shoulders and ankles. By continuing to move your lower legs it will help to improve circulation and oxygenation in your lower extremities as well as your brain.
10. Carefully watch your posture all day long. Your back should be straight, your shoulders straight in the top of your computer should be level with your eyes. If you have to look up or down you will be straining your neck, so adjust either the monitor or your chair. Do not let your wrists on the keyboard unless you have a wrist rest. Keep your knees bent at 90° and don’t let them be only slightly higher than your hips. Your feet should be flat on the floor and not crossed at the ankle or knee.
11. Stand up every half an hour stretch or walk around a bit. By taking your eyes off the computer screen every five minutes you will also help to exercise your eye muscles and relieve eyestrain.