How to get fit at your desk

GET YOUR STRETCH ON: Hopping onto the nearest boardroom desk may be a bit extreme, but there are plenty of opportunities to incorporate some exercise into your working day.
GET YOUR STRETCH ON: Hopping onto the nearest boardroom desk may be a bit extreme, but there are plenty of opportunities to incorporate some exercise into your working day.

Winter weather getting you down? If your motivation is waning and every working day feels like a fortnight, fear not. Here are some sure-fire ways to put some pep back into your step. All it takes is five or 10 minutes of your time; a digital device and a handy little app or two.

Fiona Patterson is an Australian yoga, tai-chi and qigong instructor with a passion for giving deskbound office workers and business people a boost.

She's recently launched Salute the Desk, an app of mini yoga classes that people can do without leaving their office or corporate cubicle.

She also recognises that a mental pick-me-up might be just as necessary as a physical one and that when you're sitting all day you really need to have a good seated posture.

"I've really tried to pack a lot into Salute the Desk," she says. "There's a seated posture workshop to help you build a solid, but relaxed, foundation; then all the yoga sequences and two guided relaxations."

Users can customise more than two hours of audio as well as accessing video and written instructions. They can also rig up alerts to remind them to stretch; save their favourite postures to work on tight areas; and track their progress.

Patterson says she struggled to find an app that covered what she thought was important for people in desk-bound jobs so she decided to make one.

"Research shows that there are even productivity benefits to practising mindfulness and taking stretching breaks but a really simple test of the difference it makes is the way you feel at the end of the day," she says.

"Many people think that it is tiring holding good posture all day but, in fact, the opposite is true. If you build up a good, natural posture through awareness you actually feel a lot less tired at the end of the day."

In May her app got a big tick of approval from in its review of eight desk yoga apps. It concluded Salute the Desk "stands head and shoulders above the competition." Among the things that made it a winner: "Clean, modern and intuitive" graphics and seamless "narration and video illustration".

The app is now being downloaded by people all over the world.

Wellness on Time is another Australian business targeting sedentary office-workers and business people. It's just about to launch a program that will allow people to stream a variety of classes on their computer, iPad, smartphone or via HDTV.

The choice of classes, run by professional instructors from around Australia, that will be available to subscribers will include dance, yoga, tai-chi, meditation as well as an office chair workout.

Natalie Pickett, founder and chief executive of Wellness on Time, says the classes have been created to provide subscribers with a choice of short segments ranging from three, five or 10 minutes up to an hour-long class. "The idea is that you can integrate short workouts throughout the day."

If you're worried about slacking off the program comes with a scheduling system that lets you plan your workouts for the day, week or month and you'll get reminders to act on your good intentions.

Pickett says the program will be available as a corporate offer for employers to provide for their staff or for purchase by individuals.

If desk yoga or putting on your dancing shoes in your home office doesn't float your boat, here are a few other apps designed to give you a quick pick-me-up.

Seven-minute workout

Jumping jacks, wall-sits, push-ups, tricep dips - there's 12 exercises all up, each one using your own bodyweight. You do each exercise for 30 seconds and rest for 10 seconds between exercises. Simple. Seven minutes later voila! You're on your way to a new you.

Five-minute pilates

Build your core strength and flexibility by choosing from this smorgasbord of more than 100 short pilates sessions. With its integrated music function you choose the soundtrack for your workout from your own music library. There are 18 different exercises on this five-minute fast-track to a leaner, stronger and fitter version of you.

Five-minute home workouts

Home-office workers who want to zero in on particular problem areas: this app has your name on it. Split into six categories it offers straightforward ways to tone up your abs; chest and arms; or backside and legs.

There's a category designed to promote fat loss and two more specifically aimed at yoga and Pilates devotees. All have detailed instructions and 3-D animations so what are you waiting for?

Sydney Morning Herald