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Fit At Work

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Back to work and all set to make the New Year count at the workplace? Don’t neglect your fitness routine, say Gurjyot Kaur & Sunny Rodricks, as they bring you a few workouts that you can perform at your desk

Gone are the days when work meant manual labour, that which involved blood, sweat and tears. Today work means sitting in the same spot, glued to our seats for long hours. So say ‘no’ to simply sitting  at work and a big ‘yes’ to a workout at your desk. Be it short bouts of aerobics, strength exercises or stretching in between conference calls and meetings, a few workouts can help you improve your fitness levels and heart health while you complete your regular work. Although these desk exercises won’t get you a medal, they might just improve your strength and help you burn a few extra calories. So whether you have presentations to make, conference calls to dial in to or emails to sort through, here are a few exercises to perform between your busy day for a healthier (and happier!) you.


Swapneel Hazare, senior fitness consultant at ProSport Fitness Centre, shares a few quick exercises that can be done at your desk.

Hip mobility

This exercise stretches the gluteus, improves flexibility and helps prevent injuries.

How to perform it

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend forward, and grab hold of your feet with your hands.
  • Gradually get yourself into a squat position while still holding your feet.
  • Stay in this posture for five seconds before you come up out of the squat position, but still holding on to your feet.
  • Repeat this exercise five times without letting go of your feet.

Neural stretch for neck and spine

Neck pain is a common problem and faced by those who sit and work on screens for long hours. This exercise helps relieve pain and stiffness in the neck, and combats poor posture as well.

How to perform it

  • Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Place one foot on the top of the other.
  • Place your hands on your neck and slowly bend forward. You should feel a deep nerve stretch running all the way through your hamstrings, spine and neck.
  • Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Perform this stretch slowly and very gently.
  • Swap leg positions and repeat.

Shoulder mobility

If you feel pain or stiffness in your shoulders, then you must perform this exercise at least once each day.

How to perform it

  • Start by standing straight, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Put your right hand over your right shoulder and your left hand from behind your back to the same spot. Stretch your hands so that fingers of both hands meet.
  • Hold this position for about 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.


Sitting. Don’t we love it? The comfort of our ergonomic chair, the movement of a wheeled computer chair or sitting up straight on a basic stool. But did you know that sitting for long hours is one of the main reasons for a weak core, lower back issues and neck problems? Holistic wellness expert, Prameet Kotak, shares few exercises you can perform.

Isotonic squats

Isotonic squats help strengthen and tone the leg muscles. This simple movement exercise can be performed easily at the work space or at home.

How to perform it

  • Sit on the edge of your chair, and put most of your weight on your feet.
  • Hold that pose for as long as you want to. The basic hold is 30 seconds, intermediate is one-and-a-half minutes and advanced is three minutes.
  • Do this exercise during mid-day breaks and you’ll see a drastic change in your leg muscles.

Seated single leg raises

This simple exercise is beneficial for toning your quadriceps (thigh) muscles. This can be easily done during work hours and it takes just a few minutes.

How to perform it

  • Choose a seated position on the middle of the chair (in between all the way back and on the edge).
  • Raise one leg by contracting your quadricep muscles.
  • Hold this position for a minute before moving on to the other leg.

Seated marching

This seated exercise is ideal for an office workout. It instantly energizes the body and helps improve work performance. In addition, this gentle cardio exercise will also strengthen your hip muscles.

How to perform it

  • Choose a seated position on the middle of the chair (in between all the way back and on the edge).
  • Start to march by straightening your knees and raising your legs alternately.
  • Keep marching for a minute and slowly increase the duration of the exercise to two or three minutes every day.


Dr. Aishwarya Bargode, physiotherapist at AXIS Hospital, says, “Work has always been a reason to avoid exercise and neglect health. Be it an IT job or any other profession, health issues rising at the workplace has become a serious concern. Workplace exercises could be the answer.” She shares a few simple exercises to be performed at your desk, which can boost health and improve fitness.

Heel and toe raises 

This simple exercise can help strengthen your leg muscles.

How to perform it

  • Stand on your toes, as high as you can using a counter or your desk for balance.
  • You will feel the stretch in your calf muscles.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat 10 times.
  • Shifting your weight to your heels, repeat 10 times.

Shoulder shrugs and chin tucks

This exercise is excellent for all those who sit at a desk all day working on computers, answering phone calls and completing paper work. This stretch can help build upper back and shoulder strength.

How to perform it

  • Shrug your shoulders up and down.
  • Move your shoulders towards your ears.
  • For chin tucks, move your chin back and slightly down so your ears are in line with your shoulders and you feel a stretch in the back of your neck.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and release.


Burning extra calories at your desk while working on your e-mails and coordinating meetings is one thing, but how about getting more movement throughout the day? Get up and get your blood flowing. Challenge your muscles as you take on the day by working out on the go.

Start with your commute

Walk or cycle to work. If you travel by bus, get off a few stops away and walk for the rest of the way. If you drive to work, park at the far end of the parking lot and take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Do it yourself

Everyone loves having an assistant who can get them a cup of coffee or take print-outs for them, but how about getting your daily cup of coffee and walking over to the copier more often. This way you will end up spending less time sitting at your desk for long hours.

Stand up

If your job requires you to take many calls or revert to emails, then answer the call or query by standing up and stretching your body. This is a nice way to sneak in a few stretches during the day.

Take a walk break

It’s very important that you take short breaks in between working hours. Keep an alarm and schedule a short walk every two hours or so during your work day. You can also get a fitness tracker and count the number of steps that you take every time you take a break. This pushes you to walk a little more than you are used to. If it’s pleasant outside, get some fresh air and relax your mind.

Impress the stress

Striking the right balance between work and life can be tough, especially in the digital age when it’s so easy for your work to follow you home. Here are a few tips to help you achieve your pursuit to a healthy work-life balance.

  • Implement a regular exercise schedule and eat healthy foods, which can boost your ability to manage stress and enjoy your work as well.
  • Organise your time and make a list of the things or tasks that are important and decide how much time you want to spend on them.
  • Take small breaks throughout the day. Morning breaks can leave you feeling more energized, motivated and focused. They can even help to reduce headaches, eye strain and lower back pain.
  • Do things that help you feel less stressed. Listen to some music or embrace the beautiful sound of silence after a tiring day at work.
  • Use your morning commute as a time for meditation, reflection and breathing exercises. Practising these skills will help you to stay calm and focused through the day.
  • Avoid smoking, or consuming a lot of caffeine. Opt for a chat with your colleague or go for a stroll to get some fresh air.
  • Give your body the sleep that it needs — at least seven to nine hours each night. Your stress levels will drop when your body is well rested and you will be able to take on work challenges with more composure.
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