Increase flexibility while sitting at your desk

Sitting all day can drain your energy; a few stretches, curls and flexes can help you feel energized all day.

Many jobs require sitting at a desk eight to 10 hours a day. Once at your desk, hours can go by when suddenly it occurs to you that you haven’t gotten up once to stretch or walk in quite some time. All this sitting isn’t conducive to flexibility of the body, mind or spirit. There are moves and exercises that can be carried out at your desk and in your office space, which do not require a leotard (or provide embarrassing entertainment for your coworkers!). Please note that you should consult with your health care provider regarding the types and amounts of activity that is appropriate for you. With any of these desk exercises recommended by Michigan State University Extension, you may find sitting at your desk all day just got a little better.

Kinks in your neck: Place your thumb on your sternum; make an L by pointing your index finger up. If your chin touches it, move your head back. Complete six chin-to-finger moves each hour.

Back stretch: Once an hour stand up, put your hands on the small of your back and slowly and gently arch your back as far as you can for one second. Repeat this move six to eight times.

Stressful day: Take three minutes for deep breathing exercises. Breathe in deeply, holding that pose and count to five; slowly and comfortably, release your breath.

Chest stretch: Stretch your arms back as if you were trying to grab a pencil between your shoulder blades. Repeat as needed.

Toe Raises: Lift your toes while keeping heels firmly on the floor. You can do this move either sitting or standing.

Football drill: Rapidly tap your feet in place to simulate running for 30 seconds at a time. You may want to take your shoes off so this isn’t disturbing to co-workers.

Hip flexes: Sitting in a chair, lift your right foot a few inches off of the floor. Keep your knee bent and hold that position as long as you remain comfortable.

Leg extensions: Sitting in your chair, extend your right leg until it is level with your hip. Hold as long as you are comfortable and then relax. Switch to your left leg.

Marching: March in place for several minutes. Or form a line with your co-workers and march around the office. This is guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face before you return to your desk.

Arm pump: Pump both of your arms over your head for 30 seconds.

Shoulder raises: Raise your shoulder to your ear, hold and then relax. Repeat, alternating shoulders.

Wrist stretch: Stretch your arm out in front of you with the palm up. With your other hand, grab your fingers and lightly pull them down to stretch your forearm.

Hand stretches: Tense and relax the muscles in your hands. Make fists, spread your fingers and bend your fingers.

Curls: Cross your arms over your chest and sit up straight. Tense your abdominal muscles and curl your shoulders toward your hips. Hold for a few seconds.

While physical activity is anything that gets your body moving, these moves do not count for the 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity recommended for adults each week through the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. But all is not lost. These moves/stretches/exercises will certainly help you throughout your day at the desk and count toward the recommended two times each week strength and flexibility activities. For more information see the MyActivity Pyramid from the University of Missouri Extension.

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