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Toning Exercises You Can Do at Your Desk

10 Sneaky Toning Moves You Can Do at Work

We are pumped to share one of our fave stories from Self here on FitSugar!

Your office nemesis isn't that know-it-all in the cubicle over, it's lurking right beneath you: your chair!

The more you're sitting, the less calories you're burning... not the ideal bikini body plan.

Picture this: when sitting, your activity in your muscles drops and the calorie-burning rate decreases to just about one per minute. And, women who spent more than six hours per day of sitting (less than a full day of work!) had a 37 percent higher death rate, according to a study from the American Cancer Society. It's scary stuff.

Since I haven't quite mastered the art of jogging while responding to emails, I asked creator of the MELT Method Sue Hitzmann and creator of FitKit Office Amie Hoff to share tips for combating the effects of being chair-bound. And since turning your office into a pseudo-gym can garner a few strange looks, they've kept their exercises as sneaky as possible. Just tell your bosses what's good for your health is good for their bottom line, and try to convince them to bring these healthy vending machines to the break room!

Check out these easy moves after the break!

1. The Hot Seat
"If you have to consciously think about holding yourself in a better posture, you will most likely have a hard time concentrating on your work and go back to your habitual postures without even thinking about it," Hitzmann says. "What you do have better control of is your work environment, so make sure your seat height is at a level where your feet could sit flat on the floor. Not just the balls of your feet, the entire foot should be able to touch the floor; and try not to cross your legs or sit on one foot tucked under your buttock while you are at your desk." Word around the water cooler is that sitting at a 135 degree angle is the magic number for postural benefits.

2. The Neck Release
To alleviate neck and shoulder tension, Hitzmann suggests: "Stop what you are doing at your desk, sit up and sense your cheekbones aligned with your collarbones or your ears over your shoulders. Take a few deep breaths into your body then, on an inhale, shrug your shoulders near your ears, exhale and slowly let the weight of your shoulders release around your ribs. Repeat this 6-8 times. Next, focus on keeping your abs engaged, shoulders still and turn your head left and right, pause as you reach your end range and take one full inhale and exhale. Repeat this 4-6 times on each side." And when sitting in front of a computer, "make sure both your keyboard and screen are directly in front of you. Having it off to one side, even slightly, causes major issues over the long haul on your neck and low back curves."

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3. Single Leg Seated Squat
Muscles Worked: Quads
Start: Stand on one leg a few inches from the chair or bench.
Movement: Squat down as if sitting in the chair on one leg. Gently tap the chair and return to standing. Stay on the same leg.
Amie Hoff's Tip: Try not to sit fully down on the chair.

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4. Push-up on a Platform
Muscles Used: Chest, Abs
Start: On your toes and hands placed a bit wider than shoulder width and in line with the chest, fingers facing forward. One hand will be on a stack of books or box.
Movement: Bend the elbows to a 90 degree angle, lowering the chest toward the ground, keeping your back flat. Press through the chest back up to starting position.
Amie Hoff's Tip: Start with a small stack, working your way up to 8 inches high. Keep abs tight as to not sway the back

5. Wrist Tension Release
Interlace fingers together, keep your fingers straight and try to squeeze your fingers together. Hold for one full inhale and exhale and release. Do this 4-5 times. Stand up and shake out your hands and arms. Then place your palms on your desk and rock forward and backward 4-5 times to lengthen the front of the wrist. Also try to turn your hands all the way around with your fingers off the end of your desk and try to bend your elbows 4-5 times. Shake your arms out one more time and get back to work, Hitzmann says.

6. The Stiletto Stretch
The best way to alleviate foot pain for starters is taking off your heels at your desk--let the circulation come back to your toes. Keep your feet flat on the floor when sitting. Having a big icepack in the fridge where you work is a great idea, Hitzmann says. Just 10 minutes with an icepack over your feet can help alleviate pain from wearing stilettos. You can also try interlacing your fingers between your toes and just like you did with your hands, try to squeeze your toes into your fingers.

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7. Seated Chair Twist
Muscles Worked: Low back, mid back, chest
Movement: Sit tall on the edge of the chair, twist to the right, placing left palm on the outside of right knee and right hand behind you on the left side of the chair to assist the stretch.
Amie Hoff's Tip: Sit tall and twist like a corkscrew.

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8. Accordion on a Chair
Muscles Used: Abs
Start: Sit on the edge of the chair, holding on with hands, sitting up, knees bent at 90 degree angle.
Movement: Controlling the movement with the abs, lean back, straighten legs, and return to start position.
Amie Hoff's Tip: Try not to use hands to pull you up.

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9. Squat Jump with Frog Clap
Muscles Used: Glutes, quads, inner thigh
Start: Stand in squat position, but back, kneed behind the toes.
Movement: Jump up with explosive move and clap feet together.
Amie Hoff's Tip: Bend legs as you jump for more challenge.

10. Afternoon Drowsiness Fighter
"One other great thing to do in a day is sitting tall and extending one arm towards the ceiling inhale like you are trying to reach for a high apple on a tree branch and once you reach as far as you can, maintain the reach and slowly exhale with the intention of sending your hip and thigh down into your chair. Try that two times on each side," Hitzmann says. "This really helps to release tension in your diaphragm, which is one thing that really exhausts people over the course of a day. Sitting compresses the diaphragm and if you don't ever adjust your posture while you sit, you actually take in less oxygen with each breath you take. That's why you feel tired in the middle of the day."

And when all else fails... fidget!

Check out the MELT Method and FitKit Office here! For more information, visit the American Cancer Society

Related Links:
Create Your Own At-Work Workout
7 Ways to Slim Down On The Job
Brown Bag These Lunches from SELF's Healthy Food Awards

Source: Thinkstock
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