How to stay fit while stuck at your desk

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Although most of us in Chicago walk to the train or to run the occasional outside errand: Generally speaking, working at an office is not the ideal atmosphere for keeping fit. Constantly sitting affects the nerves in your back.

Think of new ways to just get out from behind your desk. Standing burns 12 to 30 more calories per hour than sitting. Try to go to a tall counter, desk or even walk while reading or editing work.

Constantly standing or walking at the office might be difficult. When sitting down at your desk, start the good practice of pushing your stomach muscles into your spine. Trying to contract your stomach muscles while at work is not only helpful for the spine but also can add muscle tone and definition to your abs.

Stretching at work can sometimes seem awkward, but it helps keep your muscles loose and avoids possible strains from sitting in the same position all day.

Below are possible stretches to do at the office:

• Sit straight up, and extend each leg separately while contracting your leg muscles. This helps floss the nerves in your legs, while keeping your leg muscles toned.

• Sit straight in your chair, and try to stretch your arms above your head. Stretch towards the sky and hold for 10 seconds. Alternate hands one by one and keep holding them in position.

• Take a moment to turn your head from side to side, take your right ear and lower towards the right shoulder. Gently press your head with the hand to get low. Hold for 10 seconds and come back up. Change sides and repeat as many times as you want.

• Use either your office doorframe or the bathroom stall door. Hold your arms above your head and press them against the doorframe. While doing this, put one leg forward in a lunge position. The resistance created by the frame of the stall door stretches your upper back. Hold for 10 seconds and switch legs. Repeat as necessary.

• In between typing, make a fist with your hand and curl your fist into your arm. Use your other hand to push your hand towards your arm. Turn your hand the other way Hold for about 20 to 30 seconds and reverse on the other side. This will help with reducing possible carpals tunnel or tendonitis.

Although aerobic and strengthening exercises may be obvious at the office, many people integrate aerobic and strengthening exercises into their routine. Chicagoans and even commuters from the suburbs that bike to work everyday find it very rewarding and have even lost weight from adopting the biking routine. Elements to consider if you try to bike to work are bringing a change of clothes, wearing appropriate gear to keep safe on the roads and determine the safest route. Another routine is walking the stairs in the office building. Run up and down the stairs during your lunch break. Another way to incorporate walking up stairs into your office routine is every time you come in the office walk the stairs up.

Aerobic exercises can be done in your office, whether it is during a creative stagnation to get the juices flowing or it could be just to keep yourself fit. Do jumping jacks, pushups or lunges in your office or at your cubicle, while walking around the office or right in front of your desk. One can even type or read emails during an extended lunge. A variation on the lunge is to put your hands up to the sky and turn to the side where the knee is extended out. This puts an extra stretch in your hip flexor, which can get strained from prolonged sitting.

It may be hard to do all of these exercises especially if it is not a part of your current routine. If you start with just one, it will be easier in the future to add others into your routine.