Spending oodles of time working at home can easily make us become sloths, or be busy bees to the point that we hardly have the time or energy left to go for a jog or head to, say, a SAFRA gym. Exercise is important for both our physical and mental health, and even if we can’t get our full 20 minutes of vigourous activity a day, we ought to take a break from our home desk or from our idle ways to just stretch. So why not test out some simple exercise options that won’t make you break out in a sweat – they are so easy to do, your kids and your elderly parents can also join you for some quality family time! You can choose to do a few different sets in one “sitting”, or pick one to try for a breather. All you need is a good, sturdy chair with a solid backrest that is not equipped with wheels.
Advice: Please consult a doctor before attempting any of the exercises described below. Though these activities are outlined as suggestions and are low in intensity, it is not advisable for individuals who have recently gone through surgery, have injuries, or cannot perform the postures or acts physically without difficulty or pain. Stop the exercise immediately if you start to feel uncomfortable, pain or unwell. Remember: Safety first!
Ankle and Wrist Rolls
These are especially useful for those who are forever typing on their keyboards or can’t walk away from their screens. Create some blood circulation for your extremities (i.e. hands and feet) and warm up with these “mini” movements before you get started on more rigorous exercises.
- Sit with your back straight on a sturdy chair, without leaning against the back of the chair.
- Flex your fingers, then open and close your hands several times before making fists and rolling your wrists 10 times in a clockwise direction. Repeat the same rolling action counter-clockwise for 10 times.
- Follow with the feet. Flex and point both feet while simultaneously curling and straightening your toes several times.
- One foot at a time, rotate each ankle to the outside 10 times, then rotate again to the inside 10 times.
Staring at your laptop with your neck extended for long periods of time can result in a stiff neck. Avoid looking like a robot by moving your head, not just thinking with it.
- Sit comfortably with your hips as far back as you can, with your back firm to the chair’s backrest. Keep your spine straight and your back upright, with both feet planted flat on the floor.
- Stay in this position and rotate your head to either the left or right until you feel a gentle stretch. Keep this posture for 20 to 30 seconds then rotate your head in the opposite direction, and maintain the pose for another 20-30 seconds.
- Repeat in both directions for 3 to 4 times.
Seated Overhead Stretch
Ease the tightness in your lower back, shoulders, arms, chest or neck by performing these non-backbreaking moves.
- Sit at the edge of the chair, with your spine straight and back upright. Keep your feet flat on the ground, and your hips and lower body stable in this position.
- Place your hands on your hips.
- Slowly raise your arms from your hips over your head, until your hands touch. Interlock both hands while they are above your head.
- Gently arch your back inward and push your stomach outward. Extend your back in this pose until you feel a comfortable stretch in your abdomen.
- Once you achieve a comfortable stretch, stay in this position for 10 to 20 seconds, release and return to your start position.
- Repeat this pattern for 3 to 5 times.
Seated Calf Raises and Leg Raises/Knee Extensions
Need to extend those joints, soften up your taut calves or wake up the muscles in your pegs? Up and down is the way to go to kickstart some much-needed lower leg circulation and relieve the tension.
- Sit with the hips as far back as possible in the chair, making sure that your back is firm to its backrest.
- Plant your feet flat on the floor about hip-distance apart, keep your core (your abs and lumbar) tight, stick your chest out and look straight ahead. Make sure to grip the seat of the chair with both hands to keep stable.
- Keep both legs at a 90-degree angle with the chair.
- Slowly, lift the heel of your right foot from the ground, raising it as high as you can by pushing your toes on the ground while engaging your calf. Then, slowly lower your heel down and plant your foot back in the starting position. Do this for 10 times.
- Repeat the same movements for your left foot. Perform three sets of 10 per leg. You can also perform two more sets of repetitions, but this time using both feet at the same time.
- To complete your leg-day routine, you can choose to continue with leg raises or knee extensions.
- Follow steps 1 to 3, then extend and straighten your right leg until it is parallel to the floor and hold it in place for 10 seconds. Meanwhile, keep your left leg unmoved with your left foot planted on the floor.
- Lower your right leg until your right foot is back on the floor. Repeat the lifting action with your left leg, this time keeping your right leg still.
- Repeat for both legs for 10 to 15 repetitions.
- You can also challenge yourself by placing some thick books or office files on your lap (for the calf raises) or looping your backpack or laptop bag around your calves (for leg raises and knee extensions) to add more weight.
Featured image: Shutterstock