Days are darker and colder, the weather is taking a turn and working form home is taking its toll. So many people I’ve been talking to have hit a bit a of a slump at this time of year. It’s hard to feel motivated, whether that’s with your work, your Christmas shopping or your exercise routine.

In fact, especially your exercise routine.

By the time we switch off the computer in the evening after hours of Zoom meeting, spreadsheets and online coordination, the absolute last thing we want to do is pull on our gym gear and head out into the dark cold night to the gym. But how are we supposed to get our exercise in? Lunch times are sacred, and the in the evenings we’re already knackered.

But what if you could work out from your desk? Tiny little exercises that keep the blood moving and tide you over until your weekend gym fix? Handy, right?

These are some of the best recommended desk exercises that you can do to keep you active throughout your workday!

Neck release

We are all guilty of being hunched over our laptops during the day, not noticing how bad our posture is until it’s too late. Tension in our necks affect the areas all around it. Our jaws, shoulder and backs end up taking the brunt of the stress that our necks experience. Luckily, there’s a stretch for that!

Start by rolling your shoulder slowly backwards for a count of five and then repeating the motion, rolling them forward.

Next, sitting on your chair, move your arms behind you to grip the part of the chair that supports your back. Slowly, lean forward, keeping your elbows straight and lifting your chest high. Take deep breaths to really feel the stretch in your back and release in your shoulders.

Slowly roll your head from side to side, letting you chin touch your chest, allowing the tension to ease from the sides and back of the neck.

Seated leg raises

Sitting securely on your chair – make sure it’s not a swivel! – Grip the base of seat cushion with one hand on either side. Pressing the sides of your feet together, slowly raise your legs up straight out in front of you. Hold them there for a second and then release them back down to the floor. Repeat for some great ab-toning!

Arm resistance

Hold your arms out to your sides straight from your shoulders, making sure they’re level. Slowly begin to trace small circles in the air, barely bigger than your fingertips, using the whole arm. Gradually, make the circle bigger and bigger, until it’s nearly as big as your whole body. Slowly, begin to reduce it make down to the fingertip size circle, and feel the burn in your arms!

Office obliques

Make sure you are seated securely in a non-swivel chair. Raise your arms and bend them at the elbow, bringing your hand s behind your head. Press your knees together and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Slowly bend your torso to one side, feeling the stretch along the opposite side of your obliques and then come to the centre again. Repeat the action on the other side of your body.

Wrist release

Get that blood flowing in your fingers again! Having your hands tensed over you keyboard and mouse all day leaves them stiff and tensed at the end of a long workday. But more worryingly, this repetitive movement and constant tension could lead to something far more serious; Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The NHS warns that the pressure on a nerve in your wrist causes tingling, numbness and pain in your hand and fingers. You can often treat it yourself, but it can take months to get better. (Source)

Here are some simple stretches and exercises that not only make you feel better but could aid in combatting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome if practised regularly!

Ball your hands into fists and roll them in circles. Then repeat this movement, circling the other way.

Now bring your palms together in prayer position, flat against each other in front of the chest, elbows bent at a right angle. Slowly move your joined palms first towards one side of the chest, then the other, keeping the angle of the arms the same. Feel that stretch?

Hold your arms out straight in front of you and flatten your palms to face downward. Using the muscles in your wrists, move your hands up and down, keeping them flat, as if giving a high five. Repeat this twenty times, feeling a stretch up your fore arms.

Cycle to work

Ensuring that your seated securely on a non-swivel chair, grip both sides of the underside of the seat of the chair with your hands. Raising your knees and lifting your feet from the ground, slowly extend one foot in a cycling motion, before bringing it back to rest beside the other foot. Repeat the movement with the other foot.

Time crunch

Ensuring that your seated securely on a non-swivel chair, grip both sides of the underside of the seat of the chair with your hands. Make sure you chair has a supportive back. Pressing your ankles and knees together, raise your legs, keeping the knees bent, and get them level with your abdomen. Hold for 3-5 seconds and release. Repeat 10-20 times.

No weights? No problem!

Fill up a water bottle or two to complete these arm toning exercises. With a bottle in each hand, raise your arms out straight in front of you and hold. Then draw them back into your shoulder, lift them straight above your head and hold. Bring them back down to your shoulder and repeat.

Triceps tone

Making sure your chair neither swivels, nor has wheels and is securely fixed in place, straighten your back and lean backwards from a standing position to place your hands firmly on the sides of the seat. Bending your knees and firmly planting your feet shoulder width apart, gently lower your body, bending at the elbows and then raising yourself up again. The triceps dip is meant to tone the upper arms, so avoid sinking your shoulder with this exercise and try to keep them strong and straight throughout.