It should come as no surprise that sitting for an extended period of time isn’t exactly healthy for you. Studies have shown that you run the risk of heart disease and other issues simply from working a desk job – and that’s even if you exercise in your spare time.
So how do we combat this epidemic of our desk jobs literally killing us? Here are a few exercises and tips I’ve put together to help relieve work tension, lower stress, and improve your health – all without leaving your office.
It sounds too easy to be good for you, but make sure you stand up at least once an hour to circulate your blood and get your muscles moving. If your work allows, you can invest in a standing desk, if not simply standing and doing a full body stretch will help beat the effects of sitting. If you want to get some reps out of it, try standing and sitting repeatedly while on a call.
Use Proper Work Gear:
Carpal tunnel is no joke. Make sure you have proper wrist supports, and are sitting in a chair with a supportive back. Posture means a lot here too. Check yourself and your neighbors for slouching and create a work environment of encouraging each other to sit properly.
Go for a Short Walk:
If the weather permits it, use your 15-minute breaks to go on a walk around the outside of the office. You could incorporate it into your job by simply requesting a walking meeting with your manager instead of going in a conference room. If you want to up your walking game, try doing the stairs or using a step tracker. Even if you only walk around in circles while your lunch microwaves, you’re going farther than the guy who hasn’t left his chair since 7AM.
Sit on an Exercise Ball:
This sounds like play – and it is. Sitting on a fitness ball allows you to check your posture, work on and engage your core, and have some fun bouncing up and down while you write emails. Now, I wouldn’t fully recommend swapping your chair for a fitness ball. You want to give your core a break, and it is possible to slouch on a ball so be sure that you’re watching your posture while you’re using it. While you’re at it you may want to Sharpie your name on your ball, because I can guarantee that your coworkers will all want turns!
During the day you can go through a few stretches, particularly on your hands (again, carpal tunnel actually can be avoided) and your neck – where you’re carrying all your tension. A few of my favorite stretches are:
Neck: Tilt your neck side-to-side, then front and back, holding each for 10 seconds. Hang your head forward and roll your neck gently back and forth ten times.
Arms: Clench your fists and stick your arms straight out to your sides. Do 10 circles in the air forward, and 10 in reverse. Shrug your shoulders to relieve excess tension. Now, point your fingers straight out, and using one hand, pull your fingers gently back towards your body for 10 seconds. Release, and then extend your fingers and pull them down for 10 seconds. This is a known stretch to help avoid carpal tunnel.
Torso: Sitting in your chair, twist your torso towards the right. You can use both hands on the armrest to deepen the stretch. Hold for 10-30 seconds and reverse. You can also cross your arms in front of your body (holding with the other hand) to stretch your back.
Legs: If sitting, extend your legs fully out in front of you. Flex and hold your toes up and down, five times. If standing, grab one foot behind you and hold for 10 seconds. Switch feet and repeat. To stretch your calves, face a wall. Put your toe up on the wall with your heel on the ground and lean slightly against the wall. Hold for 10-30 seconds and switch feet.