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10 busy-season exercises CPAs can do at their desks

Busy season means tough choices—dividing daily life into essentials and non-essentials. Food: essential. Sleep: essential. You know exercise is important, but is it essential? Research shows that completely dropping your exercise routine for just a few weeks can put you at increased risk for a heart attack or stroke. But findings also show that even short periods of exercise can reduce those risks while boosting productivity and reducing stress. But how? If you don’t have time for a full routine at the gym or outside, deskercise!

The following exercises, though not intended as a substitute for the recommended 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, count toward the recommendation for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity or a combination of vigorous and moderate activity. Best of all, they can be done at your desk. To add some competition to the mix, challenge your colleagues to try these deskercises, too.

  1. Stationery jog. This exercise can be done seated or standing. Pick up your feet and push them forward in a jogging motion. Continue the movement for one minute. If standing, increase intensity by picking up your knees and pushing off the floor.
  2. Arm flutter. Sit tall on the edge of your chair (or stand) with arms fully extended to each side. Make small circles and work your way up to larger circles. Continue for one minute.
  3. Wall chair. Find a wall, squat with your thighs parallel to the floor, make a 90-degree angle with your legs, and hold for a minute. If this is too hard for you, begin by splitting the challenge into two, 30-second sits.
  4. Desk press. Standing in front of your desk or a sturdy table, place your palms on the edge and take two steps backward. Bend your elbows down to a 90-degree angle, hold, and straighten to lift your body weight. Complete 8–10 reps.
  5. Hand pull. Clasp hands in front of chest as if you were giving yourself a handshake. One thumb should be up and the other down. Pull as hard as you can and hold the movement for 20 seconds. Repeat twice.
  6. Hand push. Seated upright with feet flat on floor, bring palms together in front of your chest. Push both hands together powerfully until you feel your arm and chest muscles contract. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat twice.
  7. Finger stretch. Hold one arm fully extended out in front of you with your fingers facing up, palm facing away. Use your other hand to gently tug your fingers back towards your body and hold the stretch for 10 seconds. You should feel the stretch in your wrist and forearm. Repeat with your other arm. Now perform the same movement but with your fingers facing down on each arm.
  8. Shoulder extender. Cross one arm over your body and loop the other arm at the elbow of the extended arm and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the same movement with your other arm.
  9. Ceiling breaker. Hold a small dumbbell (or other weighted object you have available) in each hand. Starting with your hands in a neutral position in front of you, raise your hands as high as you can toward the ceiling and pull them back into the starting position. Complete 8–10 repetitions.
  10. Desk cycle. If the exercises above leave you wanting more, consider getting a desk cycle. Manufacturers say you can pedal off 100 to 150 calories per hour. Models vary in price from as low as $25 to over $1,000.

 For additional activities to do in your office, download the Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) Busy Season Fun Calendar. Also, check out our Small Firm Resources for ready-made marketing tools to help you leverage busy season opportunities and get information on firm-practice-management best practices.

Exercises adapted from Deskercise! 20 Ways to Get Moving While You Work by Allison Hoit, National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability.

Shelly Guzetta, Manager--Firm Services, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

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