SNEAK SOME EXERCISE INTO YOUR DAY. Long days in the office, long queues at the bus stop – the workweek is full of them. The trick is staying healthy and active, even when your schedule demands the opposite. Try these impromptu exercise tips from our Virgin Active experts. They can make all the difference in the world to your health, your posture and your performance at work.
Shape up on the computer
Sitting in front of a computer is unavoidable these days. But how many of us compound the strain by logging on at night, too? Chances are, you’re not executing perfect postural alignment – and that can cause a whole range of problems, from neck and shoulder tension, to chronic back pain. So how can you combat the computer slouch? Try these simple exercises:
(Repeat each exercise 5 times with 20 seconds rest in between.)
Isometric contractions: Place your palms flat on the desk in front of you, with your shoulders pressed back and down (away from your ears). Push down firmly for 20 seconds and feel the burn in your shoulders and abs.
Arm pulls: Grab hold of the underside of your chair (again keeping your shoulders pressed down and back) and pull upwards for 20 seconds. You’ll feel the burn in your arms, abs and shoulders.
Thigh activators: Keep your feet flat on the floor, roughly shoulder-width apart, and then drive your heels into the ground – clenching your bum muscles as you do. You’ll feel the burn in your calves, thighs and bum.
Arm stretch: While sitting or standing, interlock your fingers and then press your palms up to the ceiling. Keep your shoulders pressed down as you lift your hands up as far as you can. Then enjoy the glorious streeeeeeeetch
Stretch out on the phone
Sit or stand with your your head facing forward, and reach your right arm straight up to the ceiling. From there, keep your torso taut as you lean your upper body over to the left as far as you can. You’ll feel the stretch from your waist all the way up to your armpit. Hold for 10 seconds, then return to centre and repeat on the other side.
Tone up on the coffee run
Give your calves a wake up call as you collect the morning coffees. Place both hands on a counter in front of you, (toes pointing forward) and then step your right foot back about 12 inches. Pressing your right heel into the floor, raise your left foot in the air, alternately pointing and flexing your foot and wiggling your ankle and hips to stretch your calf fully. Change legs and repeat twice on each leg.
Work out at the water cooler
Whip your belt or scarf off (this may get a few excited glances, but just ignore them) and hold it out at arms length in front of you. Your hands should be wider than shoulder distance apart, then keeping your arms straight, slowly raise your arms over your head and then back behind you. If it’s too hard, move your hands further apart. If it’s too easy, bring them closer together.
De-stress when no one’s looking
Slip into an empty office, dive under your desk, or hide in the toilet cubicle to try this stretch, or you may get a few strange looks. Lift your shoulders up toward your ears, clench your fists, scrunch up your face and tense every muscle in your body until you’re trembling with exertion from head to toe. Then – release! You’ll feel the tension melt away. We recommend finishing with a loud, satisfied sigh and repeating the exercise as often as necessary.
Get moving at the bus stop
Standing up straight with your arms at your sides, clench your bum cheeks together – looking as inconspicuous as possible – for 30 seconds. Relax and repeat until your bus arrives. This movement straightens your spine, pulls your tummy in and tones your bum. It’s a brilliant core-strengthening exercise, which will improve your posture and will make your clothes fit better, too.
Posture check on the move
Next time you’re standing around killing time, do a quick body scan. How are you standing? Are your shoulders hunched? Is your back slouched? A good way to stay balanced and energised is to alternate standing on one leg with your back straight and tummy tucked in. Or, if you want to be a little more discreet, keep both feet flat on the ground and just concentrate on holding your tummy in.
These exercises prove it doesn’t take much effort to make a big difference to your health. Pop into your nearest Virgin Active to get a totally well rounded workout in 20 minutes. There’s a whole timetable of Fast Classes to get you fired up for the rest of the day.
Sneak some exercise into your day