No excuse

Make time and carve out an office workout

By Jason Inocencio

It’s not strange to hear that people often don’t have time to exercise, especially when they’re at work. Here’s some exercises that you can do while at the office, because you shouldn’t have an excuse to not try.

Denise Roco-de Leon, a teacher of Kundalini Yoga, shares three easy exercises:

  • Neck rolls: Let your head gently fall to the right side then slowly move backward and toward your left shoulder. The key is to move slowly or deliberately, and let gravity pull your head downward as you move clockwise for 2 minutes, then counterclockwise for another 2 minutes. You should really feel every bone and muscle in the neck.
  • Wrist rotations: Circle clockwise for 2 minutes, then counterclockwise for another 2 minutes again, slowly, while noticing the full extent of movement that your wrists are capable of while tensing.
  • Ankle rotations: Same range of motion done for the wrists.

Strike a pose

To help circulate the spinal fluid from the base of the spine to the brain for better memory and concentration, Roco-de Leon recommends spinal flexes for 2 to 5 minutes.

“With hands on the lap while sitting and both feet flat on the floor, flex forward and backwards, instigating the movement with your spine and let the head remain on a table top position without flopping,” Denise says. While being mindful of the shoulders being in a neutral position, this should also decompress stress and tension in each of the vertebra of the spinal column.

Roco-de Leon also recommends 3-minute shoulder shrugs. While sitting, place hands on your lap with feet flat on the floor. Bring the shoulders up to touch the ears as you inhale, then exhale as you drop the shoulders down. “This will remove stress and tension in the shoulders and area surrounding the neck,” Denise notes.

A classic yoga position recommended by Denise is called child’s pose, which can be done for 3 to 5 minutes and stretches the spine, decompressing the spinal column from long hours of sitting. If you have a mat in the office, sit in a rock pose. When you kneel, rest your butt on the soles of your feet, if possible, then slowly fold forward stretching your arms with palms facing the ground. “If you can let your forehead touch the ground, even better. Breathe slowly and deeply and just relax in this pose,” Denise suggests.

Another exercise involves standing up with feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart. Gently fold forward going down vertebra by vertebra instead of leading by the head. “Dangle your whole upper body and let gravity pull you,” Denise notes. “If you can, let the palm touch the floor or grab your ankles while taking long and deep breaths.

Breathe, to battle stress

Edsel Segovia, managing director of Segovia Strength and Conditioning, recommends diaphragmatic breathing to combat work-related stress. “Teaching the body to breathe using the diaphragm will help relax the nervous system and open up the muscles for better stretching exercises,” Segovia points out.

Diaphragmatic breathing entails sitting up straight almost at the edge of your seat. Place both hands on the belly and allow the stomach to press against your hands when you’re going for deep breaths. Think of expanding your stomach and not allowing your chest to rise when you’re breathing deep. “If your chest is rising, you’re doing it wrong,” Edsel warns. This should be done for approximately 60 seconds.

“After overriding the nervous system through breathing, now we can start stretching the tight muscles of your neck and upper back,” Edsel says regarding neck stretches.

Working on one side of the body at a time, Segovia details what to do next: “[S]it up straight and grab on to the seat’s base with your right hand, while the left arm is loose on the other side. In this position, tilt your neck towards the left side. You should feel a good stretch at the side of your neck. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds then repeat for the other side of your body.

“For a deeper stretch that goes into the base of the neck/back, move your head between the left shoulder and your left collar bone. You should be looking down on your left foot in this position,” he shares.

Also known as the resident fitness coach at Chris Sports, Segovia recommends the standing quad stretch:

  1. Working out one side of the body at a time between 20 to 30 seconds, stand up straight and hold on to your table for assistance.
  2. Starting with the right leg, bend at the knee and grab your right foot with your right hand. If you find this hard to picture, think about kicking your right bum with the back of your right foot’s heel. You should feel a stretch at the front your leg.
  3. Repeat on the other side. “If you want to release tightness in hip flexors, think of driving your pelvis forward with the side you’re stretching,” Edsel says. Repeat then on the other side.

Battle the temptation to be sedentary throughout the working day, and your body and mind will thank you for it. HT