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Healthy Living Blog

Information and inspiration to help you make a habit out of living healthy.


10 Simple Exercises for a Busy Workday

Monday, August 31, 2015

We all know how much a good workout makes a difference in the workday. Exercise boosts our energy, mood and focus—making our time at work more positive and productive.

But on stressful, busy days—the days we need exercise the most—there’s barely enough time to grab lunch, much less get away to the gym for a brief workout. Save a few jumping jacks or a brief run up and down the stairs, what else is a hard worker like you to do?

Take a 10-15 minute break for this simple sequence of exercises and stretches you can do right in your workspace using your desk and chair. If you’re feeling shy around coworkers, pop into an empty conference room or office space. Chances are when they see you, though, they’ll want to join in!

Scroll through the slideshow below for 10 of our favorites, demonstrated with modifications by trusty YMCA personal trainer Elizabeth Hughes.

  • 1. One-legged Hamstring Stretch

    Tight hamstrings can lead to pain in your lower back that’s only amplified by a long day of sitting. Give them a good stretch by putting one foot up on your desk, bending at the hips, and reaching for your toes. For a deeper stretch, keep your back flat and don’t let your spine curl. Works: Hamstrings and glutes

  • 2. Seated Chair Crunches

    Sit in your chair and scoot your buttocks toward the front of your seat, using armrests for stability. Crunch your knees in towards your chest while remaining as upright as possible. Extend legs straight out. Drop legs lower for more of a challenge. Works: Abs

  • 3. Alternating Toe Touches

    Here’s a core workout that’ll get you out of your seat. Stand up tall, lifting one leg while reaching toward your toes with the opposite arm. Alternate sides and keep your chest up. Works: Abs, hip flexors

  • 4. Seated Oblique Crunches

    Sit in your chair and place hands behind your head in a crunch position. Tilt your body to the side, angling your elbow toward your hipbone. Alternate sides. Imagine there are walls in front of and behind your body to keep you sitting up straight. Works: Obliques

  • 5. Seated Torso Twist

    Take care of that tight, sore back and take pressure off your spine with this great stretch. Sit in your chair and, keeping your hips facing forward, twist your upper body and look over your shoulder in the same direction you’re twisting. Works: Obliques, abs and lower back

  • 6. Desk Push-ups

    Try this twist on the classic push-up using your desk or a wall for support. With your hands planted outside of your shoulders, tighten your abs and lower your body until your chest reaches elbow height. Avoid bending at the hips or letting them sag. Works: Chest, shoulders and arms

  • 7. Chair Hamstring Curls

    Lie on the floor, resting your heels on your chair. Lift your hips off the ground, pull your heels in towards your buttocks and then straighten them, keeping your hips high at all times. Works: Glutes and hamstrings Modification: Lie down on the floor, plant feet on the ground and lift hips up and down.

  • 8. Desk Dips

    Your desk is a perfect prop for this arm-toning exercise. Place your hands on the desk, scoot off the desk and lower your body with your arms until they bend to 90 degrees. Push back up and repeat. Works:Triceps

  • 9. Squats

    Give your lower body some attention with a simple round of squats. Stand up and bend your knees as if you’re sitting in chair, with your abs tight and your knees lining up behind your toes. Do multiple reps to get the heart pumping. Works: Glutes, hamstrings and quads Modification: Stand up and sit down in your chair with your abs tight and your arms extended straight in front of you.

  • 10. Lat Pulldown

    From a seated position, begin with hands over your head and pull your elbows down toward your sides, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Snap out of your hunched-over posture and strengthen your back muscles while you sit! Works: Lateral muscles

Got extra time for a class?

Whether you’re most free in the morning, midday or evening, chances are we have a class that’ll fit both your work schedule and fitness goals. Check out our group exercise guide to learn more about the range of classes offered or check out the videos below featuring our most popular classes.

YMCA of Middle Tennessee

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1000 Church St.
Nashville, TN 37203
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