Sitting for prolonged periods of time at a desk can impact your health. Risks associated with being sedentary for extended periods of time are heart disease, increased blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other conditions. There are simple ways to reduce your health risks by standing up every 30 minutes you are seated, taking a break and walking around the office for a few minutes, incorporating stretches into your daily work routine, and exercising regularly.
Here are a few stretches you can do to improve posture, increase the blood flow to your body, decrease stress and reduce fatigue. It’s best to do these stretches every few hours throughout the workday.
- Stretch 1: Sit upright in your chair, making sure lower back is not hyper extended forward or slumped backward. Clasp your hands together and push them in front of you until you feel a stretch.
- Stretch 2: Stand up away from your desk. Raise your left elbow above your head and allow your forearm to drape down the back of your neck. Then lean to the left. And then switch and do the same on the right. Raise your right elbow above your head and lean to the right. Hold each stretch for 15 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side.
- Stretch 3: Shrug your shoulders by raising your shoulders towards your ears and then drop them down into their naturally relaxed state. Repeat 10 times.
- Stretch 4: Stand up away from your desk. Clasp your hands behind your back and lean your head to the right and hold. Then switch, keep your hands clasped behind your back and lean your head to left. Careful to not lean your neck to the point of pain or straining the muscles; it should be a comfortable stretch. Hold each stretch for 15 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side.
- Stretch 5: Sit up in your chair with your back in a neutral position. Cross your left leg over the right leg and twist your upper body to the right and hold). Then switch, cross right leg over your left leg and twist your upper body to the left and hold. Hold each stretch for 15 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side.
If you are pressed from time, try getting up out of your seat every 30 minutes to an hour and shaking out your arms, legs and hands to get the blood moving in your body. This will reduce aches and give you a boost of energy.
Incorporating these stretches into your daily work routine is a great start towards counteracting the effects of sitting for majority of the day but they should be done in addition to a regular exercise routine. These stretches and tips alone aren’t enough to prevent the type of conditions mentioned above.
If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort from your workstation, request an ergonomic assessment from your employer. Ask your doctor for a referral to meet with an occupational therapist if additional support is needed. Occupational therapists are specially trained to evaluate your needs and can develop a personalized plan and offer tips to make everyday tasks easier.
This article first appeared in the June 2019 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.