Our most recent article explained exercises that strengthen your legs and hips while you are sitting.
In this article we’ll work on exercises to strengthen you abdominal muscles, back, chest, and arms while you sit at a desk. As always, first check with your doctor before you start any exercise program.
The first exercise works both your back and stomach muscles and increases flexibility in your low back. Simply start by making yourself sit very straight with an exaggerated arch in your back, hold this position for 10 seconds, then reverse the position by slouching and trying to push the curve in your low back out backward while you pull your stomach in, again for 10 seconds. If you feel any pain or discomfort with either movement, stop this exercise immediately. Otherwise, repeat the exercise 10 times.
Next, sit tall and squeeze your shoulder blades back together toward your spine while you take a deep breath in, hold the position for 3 seconds, then relax and exhale. This works the muscles of your mid back. Remember to keep your head tall and upright as if you were balancing a book on top of it and you were trying to push the book toward the ceiling. Keep your chin tucked in. Repeat 10 times.
The next group of exercises is called isometric. This means you are contracting your muscles without making any movement. To strengthen your latismus dorsi muscles (“lats”), which are large back and arm muscles, use a chair with armrests and sit back in the chair as far as you can. Straighten your arms, push down on the armrests with the palms of your hands for 10 seconds, and then relax. Repeat 10 times. You should feel the exercise working the back part of your shoulder and shoulder blades.
A similar exercise works your triceps or back upper arm muscles. Simply allow your elbow to bend and rest on the armrest. Now push just your hands down into the end of the armrest as if you were pushing yourself up out of the chair, but don’t actually move. Hold for a count of 10, relax, and repeat 10 times. You should feel the muscles around the back of your elbow tighten as you contract.
For the biceps or front arm muscles position yourself so that your elbows are bent at 90 degrees, your palms are up and the point of each elbow is in and loose by your sides. Now place your hands under the edge of the desk in front of you and exert some upward pressure. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat 10 times. Use a stable surface to push on so that nothing moves. You should feel your biceps contract.
To strengthen your chest muscles or pectoralis major muscles, place your hands and forearms on the outside of the armrests and face your hands so your thumbs are up and palms face toward each other. Push in against the outside of the armrests and hold for a count of 10 seconds, relax, and repeat 10 times.
Now to the wrists and fingers. Again rest your forearms on the armrests of your chair, hanging your wrist and hand over the edge. Allow your wrist to bend as far as is comfortable over the end edge of the armrest. Now with your palms facing down, raise the backs of your hands toward the ceiling. Hold for 10 seconds, and relax. Repeat 10 times. This exercise strengthens the top of your forearms as well as stretches the carpal tunnel area on the palm surface of your wrists.
Last, squeeze your hands into a fist and hold for 10 seconds, then relax and extend and spread your fingers as far apart as possible. This improves mobility and circulation in your hands and fingers. Repeat 10 times.
Remember to sit in a comfortable chair with a back that supports the arch of your back. Your feet should rest on the floor and your forearms should rest comfortably in armrests such that your shoulders are neither pushed up nor have to slope down to reach the armrest. Remember to sit as far back in the chair and adjust the backrest so that the back of your knees has two fingers’ distance between them and the edge of the chair. Make moderate efforts, and don’t force anything.
Do this routine daily and soon you’ll feel better and stronger, because you will be.
Again, remember to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.