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4 simple lunchtime workouts in the office

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On top of being inactive at the office for long hours, many also stare at their computer screens for hours on end each day. This causes harm to their eyes and can affect concentration and productivity. Photo: Reuters

Office life seems harmless, and getting glued to the office setting for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for years and years appears to be unsurprising to a growing number of Cambodians.

What this means is that a large number of workers here are living a sedentary lifestyle where you sit at your desk for extended periods without undertaking much physical activity and, because of your long working hours, have no time to do so after a long day at work as well.

As you continue down this path, you may develop serious health conditions such as muscular disorders, diabetes and heart diseases as well as form a poor posture and gain weight. Moreover, a stressful work environment may also lead you to pick up bad habits such as binging on junk snacks or smoking, which would further deteriorate your health.

With physical inactivity identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality rates*, you need to ensure you stay healthy and active. There are simple ways to keep your heart pumping and muscles working without breaking a sweat. Here are four lunchtime workouts that will take just a few minutes to accomplish each day.
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1. STRETCHES

On top of being inactive at the office for long hours, many of you also stare at your computer screens for hours on end each day. Apart from causing harm to your eyes, this can affect your concentration and ultimately productivity and quality of work.

One thing you can do is look away from your screen every 20 minutes. You can also use this opportunity to do some light stretching to keep your muscles and joints relaxed as well as oxygenate your blood. Here are a few stretches you can consider alternating between every time you decide to take a break.

   Deep breaths

• Inhale deeply

• Stretch your arms to reach as high as you can

• Exhale and let your arms slowly drop to its normal position

• Repeat three to five times
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   Head tilts

• Tilt you head towards your shoulder

• Hold for 10 seconds

• Alternate sides

• Repeat three to five times
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   Shoulder rolls

• Roll your shoulders forward in a circular motion

• Roll your shoulders backward in a circular motion

• Repeat three to five times
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   Wrist stretches

• Stretch your arm forward with your palm facing your front

• Use your other hard to stretch fingers backwards

• Alternate sides

• Repeat three to five times
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   Back and hamstring stretches.

• Bend down to touch your ankles with your arms stretched out

• Hold for three seconds

• Repeat three to five times
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2. OFFICE CHAIR CRUNCHES

Core muscles are very important to many everyday tasks that you perform. Connecting your upper body to your lower body, a strong core can help you enhance your balance and stability while a weak core may sap power from your arms and legs.

To work your core abdominal muscles, you can consider doing crunches on the chair you’re sitting in. While this is not as obvious as getting out of your seat to stretch your arms and legs, and your colleagues may wonder why you’re making strange movements in your chair – you’re doing it for your health so it’s ok to look a little bit weird.

To do this, sit up straight in your chair and contract your abdominal muscles all the way. After holding for one to two seconds, return to your original position.

Complete between 10 and 20 repetitions.
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3. CALF RAISES AND LUNGES

People were made to stand, squat, run or lie down. As comfortable as sitting is, it is an unnatural position for your body. As you sit for a long time, your blood circulation, especially to your lower limbs, may be affected.

You can try to keep your legs moving by periodically rotating your ankles or stretching your legs out. You should go even further to do calf raises or lunges to work your muscles a bit harder.

You can do some calf raises by standing up straight and tip-toeing five times. Make sure you feel the burn in your calves. Complete three repetitions of this before going back to your work.

If you’re looking for a tougher workout for your lower body, you can try some lunges. Stand up straight, stretch your left leg forward and lower yourself till both knees are in a 90-degree angle before returning to your original standing position. Alternate between legs and repeat this five times. Complete three repetitions of this to finish the workout.
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4. DESK PUSH-UPS

You’re constantly typing and using your mouse. This simple action puts your whole upper body – from your shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers – in an unnatural position. This can potentially affect your muscles and joints.

One exercise you can consider is doing desk push-ups on your office table. Ensure that your desk is stable before you start your workout. From a standing position, stretch your arm out until your palm is at the edge of your desk. Lower yourself until your elbows are in a 90-degree angle before raising yourself to your original position again. Repeat this five times, and complete three repetitions of this exercise.

This will get the bloody flowing in your upper body and ensure you are working your triceps, biceps, chest and back muscles depending on the variation of push-ups you do. You can try doing wide-arm, narrow or even diamond push-up to add some variety to the work out.
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BEING MORE ACTIVE AROUND THE OFFICE

By making an effort to be more active in your office, you can negate some of the negative effects of working long hours in the same seated position. If you find that you cannot complete the exercises, try a lower count or repetition that is more comfortable and build your way up.

Of course, these simple exercises will never be able to substitute intense workouts that leave you drenched in perspiration. However, you will still be taking a small stride towards leading a healthier and more active lifestyle.

*Physical Activity – World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/ncds/prevention/physical-activity/en/

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