Deskercises
“No gym? No problem! Here are eight ways you can work out in the office.”

“Exercise more” is quite possibly at the top of everyone’s list of New Year’s resolutions. Before making that big decision to join a gym, why not start from simple and efficient exercises that you can do in the office? Yoga instructor Ong Liting and fitness trainer Li Jun Kai recommend eight exercises you can do at work.

Like most people, you are probably spending too much time at your desk hunching over your computer. Conditions such as asthma, back pain and arthritis can arise from such posture.

To help improve your physical health, here are eight exercises that can be done in the office.
OFFICE YOGA

Whether you’re a pro or totally new to yoga, take a break from the keyboard as yoga instructor Ong Liting walks you through four simple midday, feel-good stretches.

Seated backbend While seated upright, take a deep breath, stretching your hands all the way up to the ceiling as you inhale, and keeping your arms open wide. Lengthen the spine and lift your head towards the ceiling. Gently bring your chest forward to create a slight arch in your back while rolling your shoulders back. Hold this for a few seconds. As you exhale, bring your chest, arms and head back into neutral position. Repeat three to five times.

This exercise relieves tension in your torso, Liting says, and helps you focus better and think with greater clarity. If you have been stressed out by tight deadlines, this could prove useful for you.

Desk shoulder opener If you often hunch at your desk, this exercise will help relieve back strain and get your shoulders back into proper alignment. Stand a few feet from your table and stretch your arms out to the ceiling. As you exhale, bend forward with your arms in front of you, facing your palms down on your tabletop. Feel the stretch in your shoulders, and refrain from sinking in the lower back by using the strength in your legs. Hold for five to 10 breaths. Next, return to a standing position and stretch your chest as you gently tilt your chin upwards. Slide your shoulder blades down the back and hold for five to 10 breaths.

Seated twist Sit upright with a straight spine. Breathe in, and while breathing out, twist to one side from the bottom of your spine - less from your back, more from your abdomen - while grabbing your armrest. Hold this position and breathe steadily before repeating on the other side.

The twisting action will help with any backaches associated with a prolonged hunched position, Liting says. It will also aid in digestion, especially on days when you choose less healthy lunch options!
Forward fold This next activity is an ultimate test of your flexibility. Stand away from your desk. As you exhale, bend forward at the hips, focusing on lengthening your front torso. Let gravity take over as you allow your arms and head to hang. In addition to decompressing and relaxing your muscles, reversing the blood flow will give you a boost of energy for the rest of your day.

If you are a seasoned pro, hold for 30 seconds to a minute. Beginners would be off to a good start with holding for just 20 seconds.

For Liting, these simple exercises always leave her feeling refreshed and energised. “Yoga gives you that mind-and-body reboot,” she enthuses. “For maximum effect, do these exercises twice a day - once in the morning and once in the afternoon.”
CARDIO WORKOUTS

If you are game to break into a little sweat, fitness trainer Li Jun Kai recommends four muscle-strengthening exercises you can do using common office furniture.
Squats In this exercise, we reveal the secret to Jennifer Lopez’s gravity-defying glutes: the squat. Targeted at the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, the squat is a vital exercise for building endurance and strengthening your lower body.

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, and stretch your hands out in front of you. Lower your body till your thighs are parallel to the ground — it’s even better if it’s slightly below parallel - to activate the glutes and hamstrings. Keep your heels on the ground as you pull in your abs, and push your hips back. Remember to keep your back straight at all times. Repeat for about 15 to 20 times.

If you struggle with balance, perform the squats near a table for support, Jun Kai advises.
Shoulder press Have a look around the office for a ream of paper, a thick book or something that has a similar weight to either of these objects. Hold the item at shoulder height and raise it up above your head. Jun Kai recommends doing this 15 times, and repeating thrice on both sides.

This activity is similar to weightlifting in the gym, or what Jun Kai calls “reverse push-ups”. It targets the shoulders as well as the triceps. And, ladies, this is how you bid your batwings goodbye! Return to the spreadsheets, and repeat!
Lunges Lunges are an important workout for the lower body and is especially useful for desk-bound office workers. Besides doing lunges in the comfort of your cubicle, how about performing lunges on your way to the pantry or to the printer and back?

Take the furthest step forward, and gently lower the knee of your back leg towards the ground. Push your back into a standing position and repeat with the other leg. This activity not only puts the quadriceps to work, but they also involve other muscles, such as the hamstrings, calves and glutes.

If you are just starting out, aim to do about five to 10 lunges and go up to about 15 to 20 times.
Four-minute workout For something more intense, look for a corner in your office where you can blast fat for four minutes. Dubbed the four-minute miracle workout, tabata training is a popular form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). With just eight short rounds of ultra-highintensity exercises, you can burn more fat than a traditional 60-minute aerobic workout.

The moves are simple to do and require no equipment. To complete one tabata, go as hard as you can for 20 seconds and follow that with 10 seconds of rest. Repeat seven more times. You can get creative, or pick and choose from the following:

• Mountain Climbers
Get on the floor and alternate running your knees in and out as fast as you can. With so many muscle groups engaged, this gives you a total body workout.
• Jump Squats Lower into a squat and then jump with your arms stretched up high. Land back in a squatting position and repeat as quickly as you can.
• Ski Moguls Ski holiday or not, the ski mogul exercise is a conditioning workout for your entire body. For this side-to-side squat jump, keep your feet together and use your arms to help you move quickly. Jump as high as you can.
• Burpees In rapid succession, squat down to the floor and plant your hands on the ground. Kick your legs back into a full plank position, then hop your feet together in between your hands immediately after. As you jump, reach as far as you can overhead.

Jun Kai believes that exercise should not only be effective, but also fun. “Varying your workout each day is what makes it exciting,” he adds. “The goal is to get a change of pace, to de-stress and to stretch. When it’s enjoyable, you will look forward to it.”

Make the most of your office hours today.