5 Days of Standing Desk Exercises to Enhance Mobility and Prevent Chronic Pain

5 Days of Standing Desk Exercises to Enhance Mobility and Prevent Chronic Pain

In partnership with Vari

We humans were made to move. Sitting at a desk (or sitting anywhere, for that matter) over long periods of time is terrible for your health. Dubbed the "new smoking" by the Better Health Channel, a sedentary lifestyle can actually bring about many of the same consequences cigarettes do. According to Cancer.org, sitting, or lying down for too long can increase your risk of longterm chronic health issues like heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. In the short term, it messes with your metabolism (read: weight gain!), causes neck and shoulder pain, and wreaks havoc on your digestion.

As Spartan warriors, movement and mindset are the backbones to leading a healthy lifestyle. But that said, not everyone can break away from their desk for a two-hour workout at lunch. It's easy to get busy. Heck, even we have some workdays where we simply forget to move. (No bueno.) The good news? You can mitigate risk by scoring yourself a Vari desk, and doing a few easy standing desk exercises to promote joint mobility, lengthen your muscles, increase circulation and improve digestion.

The thing is, lots of Spartans exercise before or after work. And while that's all good, it's still crucial to move throughout the day, too. Bookending sedentary 6-8 hour periods with exercise isn't really the right idea, according to Sam Stauffer, Spartan's Director of Fitness. "It's like drinking water. You wouldn't drink your entire daily intake of water in one sitting," says Stauffer. "Same goes for exercise. You need to spread it out throughout the day—set a timer every half hour to an hour and just be cognizant. Focus on your breathing, get up and walk around, or do one of these exercises." Get creative to integrate more movement. For example, Stauffer says he set his printer up on the floor below him at the Spartan office so that every time he needs to print, he has to move to make it happen.

Besides preventing all of the crappy longterm side effects of sitting, regular movement throughout the day stimulates blood flow which boosts endorphins and creativity. (Dealing with a mental block? Move!) Putting some structure to it (like, "ok, right now I'm going to do 10 quick supported squats" and then doing it) gives your brain a shot of feel-good dopamine. "Every time you accomplish a small task, your brain releases dopamine, which is the chemical that enhances your mood," says Stauffer. "It's a domino effect, it reinforces the good habit and makes you want to do it more."

So if you find yourself sitting more than you stand, double down on your efforts to move around. Here are five days' worth of standing desk exercises to get you from Monday to Friday. Combine them into one workout for more of a challenge, or switch it up each day to mix and match these moves. A little goes a long way.

vari standing desk exercises

Standing Desk Exercises: 5 Days Of Workouts for Working Spartans

Day 1

Seated T-Spine Rotation

(8 reps, each side)

Sit up straight in your chair. Place your thumbs near your temples, elbows wide. Pull your lower belly in to engage your abdominals and twist to the right from your core up. Come back to center, and repeat to the left. Sync the movement up with your breath (inhaling back to center, exhaling to twist).

Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

(30 sec, each side)

Balancing on your left leg, place the top of the right foot onto your chair behind you. You should feel a big stretch across the front of your right thigh and into your hip flexors. Hold for 30 seconds and release to repeat on the other side. (This is a great move for video-chat meetings as it involves zero upper-body movement.)

Ab Rollout with Chair

(8-12 reps)

Kneel on a mat or the carpet with your toes tucked. Grab the edges of your desk chair with both hands. With a flat spine, start to roll yourself forward and extend your arms out until they reach about 90-degrees with your torso. Use your core to come back up. Repeat.

Related: How to Do These 8 Great Core Strengthening Exercises

Day 2

Seated Hamstring Stretch 

(30 sec, each side)

Sit up tall. Extend the right leg long with your heel on the floor, foot flexed back toward your knee. Plant your left foot on the ground so your leg is at a 90-degree angle. Then lean forward with a flat spine so your torso is at at 45-degree angle, or until you start to feel a stretch. Place your hands on the desk in front of you for extra support so you can focus on softening your hamstrings. Repeat on the other side.

Hollow-Body Holds 

(3-5 reps, 30 sec each)

Sit on your chair and lean your torso back to 45 degrees. On an inhale, lift your legs and flex your feet back toward your knees. Position your arms alongside your body and face your palms toward each other. Squeeze your legs into center and engage your abdominals. Hold, but don't stop breathing. Repeat. (Another great one for stealthy workouts during phone calls. No one will ever know.)

Related: Career Advice, the Spartan Way: 7 Ways to Be Powerful at the Office

Day 3

Stretch Squat

(8-12 reps)

Plant your feet slightly wider than hip-width distance. Hold on to your desk and drop into a squat by engaging your lower belly and keeping your lower back tucked. You should feel a nice stretch and extension in your back muscles. Inhale to come back up, and exhale to squat down. Repeat.

Elevated Plank 

(30-60 sec)

Place your elbows onto a soft(ish) surface, like an adjustable chair or a pile of paper on a counter top. Interlace your fingers, roll your shoulder blades down the back and away from the ears. Walk your toes back until you can feel your legs fully extend. Engage your lower belly and tuck your sacrum.

Related: Essential Guidelines to Stay Productive, Disciplined, and Healthy While You're Stuck at Home

Day 4

Elevated Push Up

(10-15 reps)

Grab onto the outside edges of your chair, or a surface that's about hip height. Walk your feet back into an Elevated Plank position. Bend your elbows and keep them in tight to your sides as you lower your torso down toward the chair. Press back up and repeat.

Elevated Knee Drives 

(8 reps, each side)

From an Upright Plank position, bend your right knee and pull it up into your chest. Keep your foot flexed as you come up. Step back down and mimic on the other side. Repeat.

Elevated Split Squat

(8-12 reps, each side)

Hold onto your desk with both hands. Ground into your left foot and place the top of your right foot on the chair behind you so your right thigh is about 45-degrees. Bend into the left knee to squat down. Repeat on the other side after your reps. (Go for a balance challenge and interlace your fingers behind your head or place the arms alongside your body as you squat, instead of holding onto the desk.)

Related: The Bodyweight Workout You Can Do Anywhere

Day 5

Seated Lat Stretch 

(30-60 sec, each side) 

Sit on your chair and stretch your right foot out extending your leg, foot planted on the floor. Place your left foot down, knee is bent for support. Reach your arms up and overhead, spiraling your biceps in (pinky fingers down toward the floor). Pull your biceps back toward your ears, and roll your shoulder blades down the back. Engage your core and lean forward to a 45-degree angle, reaching out with your fingertips feeling for a deep stretch in your upper back and side bodies. Repeat on the other side.

Standing Calf Raises 

(12-15 reps)

From a standing position, hold on to your desk for support and maintain a tall spine. Inhale to lift up onto your toes engaging your calf muscles. Exhale to release. Repeat.

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