The dining room table has been a primary place of work for many during the past year. If that’s you, it means that you’ve likely compromised your posture to some degree. For the lucky few, this means you’ll feel more niggles and nags than you used to, but for others more serious ailments may develop – most commonly compromising the hips, shoulders or spine.
In order to help those working from home, Ruth Stone, consultant PT at fitness and sports equipment specialists Sweatband.com has put together five easy exercise options– one for each day of the week – that can be carried out during a lunch break or before the start of the working day.
Mountain Climb Monday
Going up and down stairs is a great, low impact and moderate intensity activity for most. Doing it by varying the direction you face and travel also injects a little fun and works the mind and muscles differently than simply ascending and descending as you ordinarily would.
Try warming up by walking up and down as normal. Build up by taking a few ascents and descents facing right then left. Develop strength by using a step to lunge from 20 times on each leg and finally challenge your balance and co-ordination by going up and down slowly backwards. Repeat this exercise four or more times – and vary your pace too if you comfortably can – and you’ll feel really energised.
Toned Torso Tuesday
Core strength is a crucial element of good posture, so working the muscles around the belly and the back is an important habit to develop.
Lie on an exercise mat (if you have one) and repeat this simple circuit for a toned torso ….
Top Tip – When undertaking these first two exercises, breathe out through the mouth when you elevate and exert and let air in through the nose when you release and relax.
1. 10 Slow sit ups – to your fullest range, at your slowest pace
2. 10 reverse curls / crunches
3. 1 minute plank (knees down optional)
Wellness on Wednesday
Shavasana, AKA corpse pose, is practised by Yogis when they relax. Additionally, it is a great way to assess your alignment and allow it to correct slowly and safely. Take a mid-week break from exercise by lying on your back for at least 10 minutes and listening to some music that relaxes you.
While in the posture, scan your own body to see where you feel weight and tightness & where you feel lightness and release. Over time the body should balance, you may need to reposition yourself to accommodate any new-found space. Listening to the music, focusing on your body and also your breath will work wonders for your mental wellbeing and perfectly punctuate your week.
Remember – don’t rush out of the position; instead, roll to one side and slowly push yourself to sitting before you stand.
Thursday and Friday – Push, Pull, Legs
A growing trend in strength training is ‘Push. Pull. Legs’ where different muscles are worked on different days to allow maximum effort and adequate recovery. The sequences for Thursday and Friday borrow from this principle with some strength training on both days (15 reps, 3 circuits for each day)..
Remember, strong bodies enjoy better posture and a higher metabolism, so it’s really beneficial to incorporate some weight bearing work in your exercise regime.
Spend 3-5minutes warming up first with a walk, a jog on the spot or other exercises
If you do have hand weights or resistance bands, now’s the time to dust them off and use them… If not be creative – tins of food, wine bottle or bags for life filled with books are all great short-term options.
Push on Thursday
1. Narrow deep Squats (feet hip distance apart)
2. Wide arm chest press ups (knee down optional)
3. Back bridges
4. Narrow arm tricep press ups (knee down optional)
5. Overhead shoulder presses
Pull on Friday
1. Leg extensions – sit on a chair with feet on the floor then slowly lengthen and bend
2. Narrow arm tricep press ups (knee down optional)
3. Upright rows
4. Hamstring curls
5. Bicep curls
Reward yourself at the weekend – we know retail therapy and popping to the pub are out of the question right now so indulge in something that will pick you up. Call a friend, take a long, relaxing soak in the bath, or binge on a new boxset.
The good feelings you’ll enjoy will help motivate you to keep on with your weekday wellness routine when Monday comes.
Ruth Stone, consultant PT at Sweatband.com, says: “when lockdown began we all thought it would be for a short time and many people actually made a point of including their usual – if not more than usual – exercise in their day. But as the situation continued, the weather got worse, the novelty of home working became the norm and the good habits slipped away. So, by contrast, now people are moving less and sitting in poor positions for longer. The results are weight gain, motivation loss and postural problems.” But, as Ruth says “there are simple and effective ways you can get back on track in your lunch break. Simply stepping away from your computer – ideally to another room – to do something for yourself every day will make you feel and look better in a short space of time.”