5-min Office Workout: Relief for Grumpy Sitters!

5-min Office Workout

Note: Please excuse the mis-branding on the above workout.  Happy Human started under the name I Think I Can Fitness.  We thought we’d post it anyway because it is pretty darn good.

Welcome to this first ever movement ‘invigoration’. An invigoration is not exactly a traditional workout. It is somewhere in-between a workout and a movement meditation. They are designed to be done on the fly with little to no preparation. Each one is designed with a specific purpose in mind.

“Be Up Standing” is designed as an office workout. But it can be done in any situation in which you have been sitting for too long and you need a break. It is designed to ease some of the physical and psychological stress of sitting too much. Don’t let an hour go by without standing up at least once to give your body a break. On your stand up break why not do this invigoration? It is designed to be done in business clothes and to have a low WF (wierdness factor).

Head Trainer’s Notes

I see it in my clients all the time. I can tell, just by looking, how much time they spend in front of a computer. How curved forward are the shoulders? How much tension is in the neck and face? There is something about sitting and working on a computer that narrows the attention. We clinch down all the muscles above the shoulders. Our breath becomes shallow, we forget our bodies and the world around us.

This invigoration starts with standing in place and refocusing. If you are in a safe place, close your eyes. Let your attention expand to include your bodily sensations, including your breathing. If worries appear, no problem. Let them come and watch them go. Leave the world to itself for 5-minutes.

After you have broadened your attention move on to Big Breathing. This is where we consciously reverse the shallow breathing typical of working in the seated position.

Then we begin moving with the Shoulder Circles. Don’t throw away any of these exercises (i.e. don’t do them too quickly). The point is to be fully aware of the position of your body throughout the entire experience. Your challenge is to move slow enough that the entire invigoration takes 5 minutes to complete. This will be harder than you think.

Then Reach for the Sky! Our poor hip flexor muscles are in an almost constant state of shortening or contraction while we are seated. Simply standing up allows them to lengthen but adding in a reach for the sky can really help them start to relax. This movement can also help your lungs expand fully.

In Slow Squats we get the blood moving, just a bit. Going slow is very difficult here. Challenge yourself. This bit of exertion will do great things for your mood.

Finally, we get to the Lunges with Arm Raised. Now you’ll feel even more of a stretch in those mighty hip flexors. Continue to go slow. The slower you go the harder it will be.

Remember the goal is 5 minutes. It’s also important to note that this is not a replacement for your normal workout. It is simply a way to keep your body and mind supple throughout the day. Doing it even once a day should provide noticeable benefits.

Enjoy it! (…even if it’s hard…)

3 Variations to this 5-min Office Workout

We want these invigorations to become a cornerstone of your fitness habits.  We’d be delighted if we engaged you to the degree that you did them over and over again.  But anything can get old after awhile. Invigorate your invigoration with the following variations:

The Pillow Master: Do the entire invigoration balancing a small sofa pillow on your head.  This extra task is surprisingly focusing.  It’s much easier to get your mind off work and worries while focusing on a difficult task.  Not to mention it really helps see where you posture might be off.  WARNING – this amps the weirdness factor from a 3 out of 10 to about an 8 out of 10.  So either do it alone or be brazen (either works).

Be Up Lifting:  Do the invigoration holding small hand weights.  It could be small dumbbells, weight balls, or anything else that weighs a few pounds and is lying around the office (or house).  Remember to go slow, it is going to be even more difficult now.  This should add an element of aerobic exercise to the invigoration.

The Standing Jedi:  Combine both The Pillow Master and Be Up Lifting.  And if that is still not hard enough do the whole thing with your eyes closed.  Huge weirdness factor now.  Very challenging for a cubicle worker.   But great for private offices.

Who’s it for?

This invigoration is billed as an office workout. But it is really for anyone who finds themselves sitting for more than an hour at a time (i.e. almost anyone in modern society).

Some may find the squats and lunges to be too difficult. If this is the case try to keep them slow but adjust the depth. Only go to 90 or 45 degrees at the knee joint instead of all the way to the ground. Find the sweet spot that is just challenging enough.

This invigoration is particularly useful for those who are chronic sitters (more than 4 hours per day). For some extra motivation check out these reasons to stand up for your health. Don’t just take our word for it see what the mayo clinic has to say.

Invigorate your Neighbor

What is the best gift you give someone? We believe it is the gift of physicality. There is nothing better for your health and mood than a little moving invigoration. Please help us spread the word.

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  • Ask a question in the comments below if you need any help. Don’t be shy. No doubt someone else has the same question as you and would benefit from the answer.