There’s a couple things.
Sitting for long periods of time is really bad for us, so one technique involves standing while you work; place your laptop on top of a stack of books or boxes on the table where you can see your computer screen at eye level. Also make stacks for your mouse and keyboard so you can work comfortably while standing. It might look silly when everyone else is sitting, but everything else I’m about to say is just as silly.
Now onto exercises in the office space. If you don’t get a chance to walk around outside the building during your breaks, then here are some alternatives:
1. SQUATS - Move your chair aside and do squats. If you need a number, do 3 sets of 10 reps after every 30 minutes of inactivity. That’s a total of 30 squats (a squat for each minute you were sitting!).
2. PUSH-UPS - Push your chair into the desk if possible. You need enough space to do push-ups. Push-ups are a great re-energizer. When I was an undergrad, I used to always do push-ups during my research/writing breaks. I’d normally start with 10 push-ups, and if you feel you can do more, then go for it! (Modification: you can go on your knees.) If you don’t like having your face so close to the floor (because who knows how often those floors are cleaned), then you can do push-ups off the corner of your desk. Put your hands on the desk with your feet on the ground. Make sure you are in a plank form before you proceed with the push-up. Since push-ups are usually more difficult to do, I suggest just doing one set and then taking the rest of your break to do a simple exercise to decrease your heart rate.
3. KNEE-RAISE - Here’s a simple exercise to do while standing: lift one knee up (as high as your belly button) and pat that knee with the opposite hand. Switch sides and do the same thing to the other knee. Repeat this process for 20 to 30 reps (10 to 15 on each side).
4. WALK-IN-PLACE - Stand up, then lift your knees and gently swing your arms as if you were walking. The pace can be slow and relaxed as if you’re going for a stroll, or it can be fast like a power walker.
5. YOGA - Stretching is essential, especially since sitting adds tension to your lower back. Sit in your chair and lean forward as close to your knees as possible. Aim to reach your head towards your shins. If you can, use your arms to hug behind your knees or to reach for your toes.
*Tip: If you do get sweaty, I suggest having a piece of paper ready. Fold it in half (hamburger-style) and start fanning yourself. That’s another mini-work out.