If you have a formal office and you’re not comfortable grunting your way through a set of pushups or the other aggressive workplace exercises, let alone building your secret office mini-gym, but you still like the idea of Workrave and mini-breaks, there are still some great things you can do and nobody will even know that you’re exercising.
- TVA Holds. The TVA is the transverse abdominals, one of the key supporting postural muscles that are critical for back health and they can be given a light workout right in the middle of a conversation or during a Workrave break. Simply stand tall, push your navel back toward the spine as hard as you can like you’re trying to hold your stomach in. Pull “in” on the genitals and rectum. Now, breath deeply with your diaphragm. It might take a bit of practice to be able to do this, but it will activate the TVA and if you hold it for a minute or more, you’ll feel it getting tired. You should be able to carry on a conversation without sounding strained or out of breath.
- One-legged partial squats. Stand on one leg with the other foot slightly off the ground (nobody will notice, really). Bend at the knee as much as you dare and just hold that position. This will not only give you a slight leg workout, it will improve your balance and work on smaller supporting muscles in your feet and lower leg that you need for balance.
- Neck and shoulder stretches.
- Stretch your head from side to side and then forward and back (best not to stretch your head in a circle if you have any neck issues).
- Shrug your shoulders hard and hold for a 10 count.
- Hold your hands together above your head in a sort of prayer position, but without interlacing the fingers at all (i.e. totally flat hands). Reach toward the ceiling and hold.
- Standing Knee Ups. Stand on one foot and bring the other knee to your chest.
- Wrist stretches. Grab your fingertips in one hand and extend your arm straight, fingers of the stretch arm pointing down. Hold for ten seconds each arm.
- Heel raises. A simple calf exercise. Just stand feet flat and lift your heels off the ground. Try it one foot with a hand on the wall for stability. If you can, do it one foot without holding onto anything for stability.
- Toe raises. Now do the opposite. Stand with the feet flat and then lift your toes off the ground. The one-legged, hands-free version of this is fairly hard. This might be helpful if you have trouble with shin splints when you run since that’s sometimes a consequence of weak muscles that control the toe landing in heel strikers.
- Standing on One Leg, Eyes Closed. If you’re not used to it, standing on one leg with your eyes closed is harder than you might think. Since you only have to lift your foot just a little off the ground and this otherwise requires almost no motion, nobody will know that you’re perfecting your balance during a Workrave break.
These micro-workouts are short, quiet, and fairly discreet. I realize that in most workplaces, people aren’t going to want to get sweaty or scream their heads off to crank out that last rep, so these give you a little something you can do to keep from seizing up entirely. It is a way to get a little motion into your day and combat some of the issues that arise from a sedentary lifestyle.