deskercise! easy exercises you can do at your desk
Have you ever considered how much time you sit at work?
Almost half of the Australian workforce spends most work days firmly planted in their seats. Those in admin and clerical work, machine operators, managers, and drivers top the sedentary list. Yet, remaining seated brings potential problems with: weight, exhaustion, high blood pressure, high blood sugar; and neck, shoulder, lower back, knee, and thigh complaints. That’s why sitting has been labelled the new smoking! The good news is that simple exercises help reduce these risks. Sprinkled throughout your work day, they can protect your health in important ways. Remember, it’s best to regularly stand up and move around − a light two-minute jaunt every 20 minutes is ideal. However, if it’s tough to leave your desk, these three exercises will help.
Long-term sitting can round the shoulders and bring your head forward, strain the spinal curves and tighten the muscles in the chest. Stretching your chest muscles helps to reverse this posture. Sit comfortably on your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lengthen your spine. Turn your arms outward so your elbows are straight and your palms face forward. Then raise your arms to a 45-degree angle. Pull your shoulders and arms back and downward. Once you feel a stretch across your chest, hold for 20 - 30 seconds. Repeat three times.
Sitting tends to curve your back forward, so an exercise to reverse this posture is helpful. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on the small of your back for support. Slowly lean backwards until you feel a mild stretch in your lower back and/ or the front of your hips. As always, don’t bend to the point of feeling pain. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat.
Most people who sit at a desk know what it’s like to have a sore neck, aches, stiffness, and even neck-related headaches. Regular motion may reduce this problem. Sit with your neck tall and your head facing forward. First, turn your head to the left as far as is comfortable. Hold for 10 seconds. Then turn your head to the right, hold for 10 seconds. Next, bend your left ear toward your left shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds. Then repeat to the right. Now, look up to the ceiling, then down to the ground. Again, hold each movement for 10 seconds.
These exercises can be performed regularly throughout the day. But all movement matters. If you can deliver a message in person instead of by email, do it. If you can do stretches more often, great! If you can use a sit-stand desk − even better. And if you have questions about moving well at work, ask us. This is the best way to receive tailored advice to suit your needs.