exercise in a chair

When “sitting” and “exercise” are in the same sentence, it’s easy to try and think of complicated workout routines that involve a chair.  While there are some pretty creative moves you can do with a chair or (anything to rest your bottom on), the exercises in this article are actually simple and subtle enough to do while you’re seated and working at your desk, resting at home, waiting for a bus, or even dining out.

Sitting may seem fairly relaxing, but not when you are compelled to do it all day.   Long hours of desk work, for instance, no matter how expensive or fancy the chair used, will always contribute to lowered levels of energy and poor posture. The neck feels sore, the shoulders round up, and the torso and leg muscles contract way too much after prolonged sitting. Breathing becomes ineffective, and the lack of adequate oxygen flow to the brain cells make concentrating very difficult and therefore affecting productivity and mood. Even digestion slows down, eventually causing constipation from lack of mobility.

If you are chair-bound and it can’t be helped, get yourself still get the exercise that your body needs with these simple, subtle moves that you can do, whether you’re strapped in an airplane seat or waiting for your turn at the doctor.

Breathe in, breathe out.

When you are seated, the abdominal muscles are compressed and may impede the full expansion of your lungs. It is crucial to learn how to breathe properly in a sitting position. As you inhale, you should be able to feel your ribs expanding, right up into the armpit. Exhale by pulling your belly in to really empty it of all the air. Deep breathing like this increases your capacity to take in air, as well as purifies the lungs to help energize you and help your body improve its metabolism. Breathing deeply and slowly works best when you need to concentrate, relax, or as you perform sitting exercises.

Twist your spine.

This simple back twist exercise works well when seated in a chair with an arm rest. Sit up straight and inhale deeply. Your right hand must be across your torso and to the left arm rest, while your left hand is on the back of your chair. Release breathe, and twist left-wards. Hold the twisted position for five regular breaths, and twist to the other direction.

Shrug your shoulders.

Shrugging isn’t just for when you don’t know. It also eases your shoulders, upper back and neck. Start by inhaling and holding, while lifting your shoulders up to your ears and squeezing them back. As you exhale, lower your shoulders and this time squeeze them forward. During this exercise, relax your arms and let the shoulders do the work. Three sets of shoulder shrugs is great for whenever you feel the need to relax your upper back.

Release your neck.

Once your shoulders are more relaxed, work on your back. Begin by sitting with chest lifted, and placing your left hand (with your palm down and fingers towards the tailbone) under the left sit bone. Lean right, as if wanting to rest your right ear onto your right shoulder.  Breathe into and relax into the left side’s stretch. Next, reach out with your right arm over your head and fingers gently wrapping around jaw, allowing your arm’s weight to stretch your neck further as you roll your head an inch closer to the chest. Don’t pull on your neck. Slowly release your wrap on the head, breathing in deeply and keeping your necks straight and your hands atop your knees. With your left hand on your forehead, inhale and lift head up. Repeat on the other side.

Ease your back.

Your lower back, thighs and hips need attention, too. Place one ankle over the thigh of the opposite leg. Breathe in and slowly lower your chest to your legs, dropping your arms and relaxing your neck. Breathe five times and do the opposite ankle and leg.