Staying Active in the Office: Part 1
For many people, one of the biggest obstacles to staying active is finding the time to get to the gym. Fortunately, staying active and getting fit does not require a ton of space, equipment, gear, and dedicated time. There are seemingly endless exercises one could perform in a confined space, like an office. The following exercises can be easily performed in an 8’ x 8’ cubicle sized office space and require no materials or equipment.
Squats are a fantastic exercise, but only when performed correctly. They primarily work your legs, though over 200 muscles must activate to proper perform a squat.
Start by standing up straight with feet shoulder width apart and toes pointed slightly out. Take a deep breath in and begin squatting as if about to sit on a chair. As you go down, push your hips back as far as you can and keep your weight pressing down through your heels - not your toes! Knees should stay aligned over your feet throughout the motion, be sure not to let them buckle in or push out.
As the picture to the right shows, the head should be in a neutral position, meaning facing straight ahead and not down at the floor or any other direction. Your back should stay straight and almost parallel with your shins. Descend until your hips pass just below knee-level, then return to standing. If you feel any pain on the way down, stop the motion and return to standing. If pain persists, contact a health or fitness professional to help identify the cause.
If you are looking for a more challenging exercise, try explosive or jumping squats. The form remains the same, just accelerate on your way up out of the squat and jump once you reach the top.
Push-ups are a great upper body exercise. Start by lying in a prone position on the ground. Place your palms on the ground next to your shoulders. Maintain a firm, plank position, keeping your body in a straight arm and not arching your back. Push up off the ground keeping your elbows close to your torso.
If this position feels uncomfortable or too challenging, the alternative form (pictures in the illustration to the right) consists of placing your knees on the ground rather than your toes.
Push-ups work the chest muscles (pectoralis major and minor), the front part of the shoulder (anterior deltoid) and the triceps.
Sit-ups are a very effective dynamic core exercise that can help with stability in other exercises. Sit-ups work the abdominals and the obliques on the sides of the torso.
To perform a crunch, lie with your back on the ground and your knees bent, as shown in the picture. Use your abdominals to raise your head off the ground and to the position as shown. It is not necessary to bring your head completely up to your knees as some people may suggest. Exhaling when performing the crunch will help to build stronger abdominals, as exhaling will tighten and thus strengthen those muscles.
Turning and touching one’s elbow to the opposite knee can vary sit-ups and help to target the obliques. Keeping your back on the ground and arms at the side for support and raising your legs off the ground until perpendicular to the floor can also modify them. For an extra challenge, once your legs are perpendicular, try pointing your toes and trying to touch the ceiling with them.
Performing sit-ups on a hard surface, like a concrete floor, can be uncomfortable so if a cushioned mat is not available, a folded blanket will work just as well.