Dec. 29, 2008 -- With New Yers just around the corner, many Americans will be making a resolution to get in better shape. But many people simply do not have the time to hit the gym for hours on end.
Have no fear. Fitness experts Diana Nyad and Bonnie Stoll of the fitness company Bravabody are masters of The Office Six -- six easy workouts everyone can do while at work to keep that body toned.
Grab onto your desk with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Keep your elbows locked out at the beginning and the body as flat as a plank from your shoulder blades to your heels. Your butt should not be in the air. Bend your elbows and lower your chest toward your desk then push back up.
You could just go through the motions -- don't. Really squeeze down and squeeze up. Do 20 reps, or do 10 to 15 and work up to 20.
If you would like to work the back of your arms, which get a little loose as you get older, you can do tricep pushups. They are just like the desk push-ups, just move your hands closer together. So you are working the fatty area. Go down and up. Try to squeeze hard so you work everything else plus the triceps. These are hard, so do one or two if you can and work up to 20 reps.
Standing over the desk with hands on the desk about shoulder-width apart. Now, with your foot flexed, lift one leg straight back then bring it all the way in and back and in. Don't use momentum and throw your leg around. Squeeze that cheek on the way up and the way down. Do 20 reps, then switch legs.
Now for a variation, because some women worry about the hips and the insides and outsides of their thighs, too. This time we'll raise the leg at a 45 degree angle, not straight out to the side, not straight back. Keep the foot flexed. All the way up, all the way back out and in with intention. It takes concentration. Do 20 reps.
We call this exercise the chicken wing. It works the back of the upper arm because a lot of women are unhappy with the flab that develops there. Stand by your desk and bend over at the waist. Elbows are bent and raised behind you above your back. Lock out your shoulder so it doesn't move, and lock your elbow. Bend your forearms in and out for 20 reps.
The fourth exercise is the sitting abs, which is meant to work your core. Think you need fancy equipment? You don't.
Sit in a chair -- it doesn't matter whether it is a swivel office chair or a straight-back chair. This will look like you are marching in place. Raise your feet a couple inches off the floor. Your feet do not touch the ground. Raise your right knee up until it's close to your chin and crunch your upper body down to meet it. Then put your leg down and don't touch floor. Alternate legs.
Do 20 on each side. Don't throw your knee around.
You can also raise both legs up at once and do 20 more reps. Do them slowly so your muscles are flexing. Your goal is to keep yourself in a constant state of flexion.
Isometric Abs and Quads
For the isometrics, you sit in same position. Pull hard and grip the sides of the chair. Bring up your legs and lock them with your feet flexed directly out at a 90 degree angle, as if you were trying to kick a door shut. Keep your upper body erect and your lower back squeezed in. Hold it for one minute. You can start off holding the position for just 30 seconds and work up to a minute.
The Final Stretch
The final office exercise is to stretch your lower back and neck and do some ankle flexion. You know how when you get up and you can barely walk because you're so stiff from sitting for too long? Just one minute of stretching at your desk can make a difference. People who haven't taken yoga or pilates or done concentrated stretches think stretching is not useful. It is. But do it with intention.
Neck first. Stretching your head, look over to the left gently. Use your hand to push your chin over for a deeper stretch. Take three deep breaths. Feel your tendons let go on the side of your neck. Then slowly take your chin to the right and repeat, taking three breaths on the other side.
Then take your hands on top of your head and gently push your head down so your chin is touching the top of your sternum. Feel the trapezius muscles below your neck. Take six deep breaths. Then lean your head to the back for six breaths.
Now to stretch your lower back. Use the side and back of your chair to pull your torso around to the left side towards the chair and take six deep breaths. On the inhale, pull your torso over more. On the exhale, reach your body higher. Then turn to the other side, again for six deep breaths.
Finally, we do ankle turns. We also do these on airplanes because the blood goes down to your feet if you just sit there. So put your legs up and rotate your ankles to the right, then rotate to left a few times. This just opens your ankle joint. And it feels good.
Everybody wants a massage at the end of the day and that's what you'll feel like after stretching. It sounds simple, but just do it once a day and you'll wonder why you havn't been doing it all along.