By Mike May

The ‘Inactivity Pandemic is now impacting more than 80 million Americans, especially those people who happen sit behind a desk all day.  But working at a desk doesn’t mean your time at the office has to be a sedentary experience.  Believe it or not, but you can incorporate exercise and fitness – called ‘deskercizes’ — into your office experience without venturing too far from your desk, which is great news if you are looking to remain fit and supple.

There are ten ‘deskercises’ which can transform the white-collar desk job into a fun, rewarding, manageable fitness frenzy.  One of the underlying messages is that Americans must incorporate physical activity into their lives because sitting is now sabotaging their health.  These ten office fitness tips — compiled by Cedric X. Bryant, chief science officer at the American Council on Exercise, and John Porcari, executive director of La Crosse Exercise and Health Program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse – are great fitness tips for people who are looking to remain fit and flexible throughout the year, especially during the cold winter months.

  1. Paper Pushups – With your arms outstretched while grabbing the edge of your desk, lean at 45 degrees, and starting doing pushups.  Consider 20 every hour on the hour.
  2. Book Press – Pick up the heaviest book that you can hold with both hands.  Then, extend the book above your head and then lower it down behind your neck.  Repeat the process.  It will help your triceps.
  3. Shoulder Blade Squeezes – To improve your hunched posture, stand up and squeeze your shoulder blades back and forth.  Try holding the squeeze on your shoulder blades for 10 seconds.
  4. Office Yoga – Keep a yoga matt at the office and lay it out on the floor for some impromptu stretching.  Consider getting in the Zen position for a few moments.
  5. Chair Squats – Stand a few inches from the edge of your chair, lower yourself until you are seated in your chair, stretch out your arms parallel to the ground, and keep your back straight.
  6. Tricep Desk Dips – With your back to a desk, reach back and grab the edge of the desk.  Then, bend your arms and lower the body while putting tension on your triceps.
  7. Wall Sits – Stand next to a wall and lower your back along the wall until your legs are parallel to the floor.  Hold that position, then have your back move up the wall to the original position. 
  8. Standing Calf Raises – While grabbing the back of your chair, put your feet together, and get up on your tippy toes.  Hold for 10 seconds.  Repeat this process to strengthen your calf muscles.
  9. Leg Raises – While sitting in a chair with your back straight, extend each leg – one at a time – and hold it – parallel to the floor – for 10 seconds.  Repeat 10 times.  This builds your abs.
  10. Phone Pacing – While on the telephone, use a headset and walk around your office while on the phone rather than just sitting at your desk.

And, some people are taking office exercise a step further by removing the chair altogether.

“Having a stand up desk is helpful in maintaining an active lifestyle,” says VJ Mayor, senior director of communications, National Confectioners Association (Washington, DC).  “You don’t realize how much your posture is affected by sitting so much. I find myself doing many of the exercises listed as I feel it helps stimulate my brain and be more productive in the workplace.”

According to PHIT America, the non-profit cause focused on reversing the ‘Inactivity Pandemic,’ more than 10 independent studies confirm exercise energies the brain and is more receptive to learning.

The ‘treadmill desk’ is also gaining in popularity.  It allows the user to walk on a treadmill, at a low level speed, while speaking on the telephone, working on their computer, or discussing business opportunities with colleagues.  And, that’s what a number of golfers do while on the golf course – they walk and talk.

People who exercise in the workplace agree that they are more creative and productive because that moderate level of physical activity generates the release of endorphins that triggers the positive energy.

“The issue of fitness in the workplace is important because physical inactivity in the U.S. is negatively affecting rising health care costs, national productivity, absenteeism in the workplace, scholastic achievement in our schools, and the ability of the U.S. military to attract fit troops,” says Jim Baugh, Founder, PHIT America.

This concept of more movement in the workplace has triggered support from the medical community.

“I think the concept of trying to build activity throughout your day is so important. And it makes you healthier,” says Dr. Jordan Metzl, New York’s (NY) Hospital for Special Surgery.

“As a family physician, I have seen first-hand that exercise is a powerful medication,” says Dr. Robert Sallis, medical doctor/co-director, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center (Fontana, CA).  “My patients who exercise are consistently healthier and live longer and years of research back up this observation.”

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Mike May is a freelance golf writer based in Wellington, Florida. Mike, an avid golfer, is also a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. He traces his roots as a golf writer to the 1983 British Open Championship at Royal Birkdale -- which he attended for all four days -- and then voluntarily wrote his own account of that major championship event. In addition to being a golf writer, Mike coaches girls high school basketball, officiates high school soccer, and works with a cause (PHIT America) that is focused on bringing daily P.E. back to all U.S. schools. Mike is a 1985 graduate of the University of Florida where he earned a degree in broadcasting. Mike can be reached on email at: