Your Pilates Workout at Your Desk

It shouldn't be news that studies repeatedly show our sedentary workdays basically demolish any efforts at fitness. Some newer research has shown that the simple act of sitting for just one or two hours straight can severely impact your general wellness, increase your risk of lifestyle diseases and predict a shorter lifespan. Thankfully Pilates goes where you go.

It goes without saying that you won’t really be able to do a mat or classic Pilates move like rolling like a ball at your desk, but you can practice a few great Pilates exercises to get you through your workday without leaving your desk. Practice these moves and make sure you never cross the two-hour mark without moving to ensure your healthiest physical condition. 

I have selected the following combination of moves not just to get you up and out of your chair, but also to address full-body and joint mobility. Performing these moves will also counter some of the negative effects of the chronic poor posture we often develop while sitting at a desk all day long. This short routine, done one move at a time or all at once, provides core conditioning, spinal strength, and improves full-body alignment, as well as providing upper-body conditioning.


Chest Expansion


Sitting at a desk doesn’t help our posture, but the chest expansion can combat this. To work the upper back, stand in Pilates stance with your legs together, heels squeezing and toes ​slightly apart. Face away from your chair. Inhale, firm your abdomen and press your arms back until your palms are pressing lightly into the chair. Now hold your breath and squeeze your shoulders backward and down as you turn your head right, then left, and then center to finish one rep. Carry your arms forward as you exhale. Repeat 5 more times for a total of 6 reps.


Single Leg Stretch


You don't even have to get out of your chair for this move which is borrowed from one of Mr. Pilates’ disciples, Carola Trier. Begin slowly and concentrate on keeping centered and strong. No twisting or turning allowed. The torso has to remain controlled and strong.

Slide down on your chair so that your bottom is right at the edge and your upper back is leaning against the back of the chair. Try not to slump or collapse. Draw one knee into the chest and stretch the other leg out long in front of you at chair height. Slowly begin alternating legs, keeping your abdominals scooped deeply and your elbows lifted wide. Repeat 10 - 20 slow repetitions of this single leg stretch.


Push Ups


Push-ups don’t always require a floor. Just stand up from your chair and work your upper body the Pilates push-up way.

Stand tall facing your desk or table. Place your hands at the edge of your desk for support and step your feet back until you are in a straight diagonal line. Keep your legs together tightly and your heels high so that you are perched on the balls of your feet. Keep your arms in line with your shoulders as you bend your elbows back into a strong tricep push up.  The elbows bend into the sides of the body. With each bend of the arms bring your chest toward the desk edge. Straighten back out, with special attention to keeping your abdomen firm. As you press up and down be sure to keep your heels stationary. Perform 8 - 12 slow repetitions.

Perform the entire routine 2 - 3 times per day for maximum benefit.  Even better, set your timer for every two hours while at work to make sure you beat the clock and maintain optimal health. 

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