Most of us spend far too much time sitting in front of a screen these days. Whether it’s at a desk staring at a computer monitor for work, flipping through our Facebook feed on our smartphone, checking out the latest Netflix show on our laptop or sitting glued to cable news the average American adult is putting in over 10 hours of screen time a day.
That’s nearly half a day spent planted in a chair, and all that sitting can take a big toll on your health. It’s like hitting the fast forward button on aging. Too much time with your seat planted in a seat will leave you flabby, less flexible and at risk for heart disease and diabetes.
But don’t worry, there’s good news too. According to experts you can reverse the effects of all that inactivity by slipping in a modest amount of movement every day. And we’ve got the perfect way to do it. These simple and fun chair exercises can help you stay fit and flexible, and you don’t even have to leave your desk to do them!
Make sure the chair you’re using allows you to have your feet flat on the floor with your knees at a 90 degree angle. Keep your back straight and your shoulders down, never push beyond your physical limits and stop if anything hurts. (Remember, it’s always a good idea to have a chat with your doctor before you start a new workout routine.)
Let’s get started.
Basic Six boosts blood flow & increases flexibility
The Basic Six are great for getting your heart pumping, boosting blood flow and increasing your flexibility.
Basic Move #1: Torso twist
Cross your arms in front of your chest. Tighten your ab muscles. Without lifting your feet or your hips, rotate your upper body as far as you can to the right. Inhale and exhale, then return to center. Now, twist to the left. Repeat 20 times, up to three times a day.
Basic Move #2: Leg extensions
From starting position, simply straighten your right leg at the knee, so it’s parallel to the floor. Contract your quadriceps—the muscle at the front of your thigh—then lower your leg. Repeat with your left leg. Alternate for a total of 10 times per leg, up to three times per day.
Basic Move #3: Inner thigh
You’ll need a water bottle for this one. Move to the edge of the chair, but keep your feet flat on the floor. Put the water bottle between your knees. Using your inner thigh muscles, gently squeeze the water bottle, then relax. Repeat up to 30 times.
Basic Move #4: Jumping jacks
Sit on the edge of your seat and spread your legs as far as you can. At the same time lift your arms up above your head as if you were performing a traditional jumping jack. Bring your arms down to your sides and bring your legs together at the same time. It’s essentially the same exercise as a standing Jack, just seated. Once you’re comfortable with the motions, bring it up to speed and move as quickly as you can, while maintaining control. Aim for 20 Jacks, up to three times a day.
Basic Move #5: Seated press
Lift your arms like you’re putting your hands behind your head, only keep your fingers at your temples instead of clasping them behind you. Gently press your elbows back, so your chest opens up. Keeping your back straight, bring your elbows together in front of your face until they’re three to four inches apart. Repeat at a moderate speed 30 times.
Basic Move #6: Arm circles
Straighten your arms out to your side, so they’re parallel to the floor. Start with your palms down. Circle forward from the shoulder 10 times. Turn your palms to the ceiling, and circle backwards 10 times. Repeat up to three times a day.
Beyond the basics Bonus Moves
If you’re comfortable with the Basic Six and looking for a bit more of a challenge, these bonus moves are just the ticket.
Bonus Move #1: Oblique twist
Clasp your hands behind your head. Using your abdominal muscles, bend your right elbow toward your left knee. At the same time, lift your left knee to meet your elbow. It’s okay if they don’t touch. Return to starting position. Repeat with your left elbow and right knee. Repeat 10 times each side, up to three times a day.
Bonus Move #2: Knee tucks
Move to the front of the seat. Grab the arms of the chair, and lean back. Lift one leg toward your chest, leaving the other on the floor. Put your first foot back down and repeat with the second. For a really advanced move, try lifting both legs at the same time, and pedaling in a bicycle motion.
When you’re stuck at your desk, or you realize you’ve been sitting in one place a little too long, break out a Basic Six or Bonus Move to stay fit, flexible and healthy.