What does your average day look like? Is it filled with movement and activities that are easy on your body and great for your health? Do you wake up each morning feeling totally rested, ready to take on your stress-free day? Sounds great, but unfortunately this isn't the reality for most of us.|
If you feel like you spend too much time at your desk, hunched over a computer or gazing down at your smartphone, you're not alone. According to a Nielsen Company audience report, adults in the United States spend more than 10 hours a day in front of screens. Not only is all that screen time keeping you from spending quality time on other endeavors or relationships, but the poor posture that results from how we interact with screens can lead to uncomfortable aches and pains. While your day might be filled with less-than-ideal situations, there are exercises you can do to alleviate the physical and mental stresses they can cause.
Commit to taking five or 10 minutes out of your busy day for an exercise break to target some of these most common problems of everyday life and your health with thank you. Although this isn't a replacement for a traditional workout, these exercises can be done in short bursts when you can squeeze them in or added to your regular routine. Aim for eight to 12 repetitions of each strength exercise and 30 to 60 seconds of each cardio move. You can do the sequence two to three times through, depending on how much time you have available.
The Problem: Sitting Too Much
Your best bet is to sit less and move more, since sedentary behavior has been linked to increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other cardiovascular health issues. Over time, hip muscles begin to tighten from lack of movement while in a flexed (seated) position, which can cause low-back and hip pain. If sitting less isn't an option due to your current work position, consider taking a few breaks throughout the day with these exercises, designed to stretch and strengthen the hips and surrounding muscles.
Primary muscles worked: Hips, Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads
Balancing Hip Flexion
Front Kick with a Squat
High-Knee March with Reach and Pull
The Problem: Slouching
Good posture can make you look and feel younger and lighter, but it's challenging when you sit or stand in one position for long periods of time. Over time, slouching results in weak back muscles and tight chest muscles, so exercises to target those areas will leave you standing taller, sitting straighter and feeling better.
Primary muscles worked: Chest, Triceps, Upper Back
Chest Press with Band
Dumbbell Reverse Flys
The Problem: Too Much Stress
Excessive stress can take a physical and emotional toll on your health. Although it's nearly impossible to escape stress completely, how you handle situations and how you cope with pressure will have a huge effect on your stress level. Taking a few minutes each day to stretch, breathe and even get out for a short walk or jog can be the difference between good health and letting these feelings control your life. If you're looking for a walking or jogging program to follow, SparkPeople's Spark Your Way to a 5K offers options for all fitness levels.
Seated Butterfly Stretch
The Problem: Cell Phone Addiction
If you spend lots of time scrolling through social media or surfing the web for the latest internet craze, chances are much of your time is spent with your neck craned, looking down at your smartphone. While a digital detox can do wonders for your mental health and overall happiness levels, completely abandoning the phone just isn't a viable option for some people. To avoid developing "text neck" (yes, it's really a thing) from flexing to look down, though, you'll want to be sure you're incorporating exercises that target the muscles protecting your neck, shoulders and upper back.
Primary muscles worked: Upper Back, Triceps, Shoulders, Neck
Seated Rows with Band
Seated Shoulder Press
Two options: Indoor rowing machine or at-home rowing workout
The Problem: Lack of Sleep
If you're tired from a night of tossing and turning, you need an exercise routine that gets you going by waking up your body and mind. Designed to target multiple muscle groups at once, these exercises will get your whole body energized in a hurry. Add a high-knee march or run in between exercises for an extra cardio boost.
Primary muscles worked: Quads, Glutes, Shoulders, Chest, Triceps, Biceps
Stationary Lunges with Dumbbell Press
Dumbbell Squat with Lateral Raise
Lateral Lunges with Dumbbell Curls
Instead of lamenting the fact that you have an office job or feel tied to your phone, take action! With just a few minutes and a targeted set of exercises to combat the daily stresses of life, you can feel better, have more energy and be better equipped to take on each day's physical and mental challenges.