Sitting still for hours on end is unhealthy. This week, TGI brings you a few simple office-friendly exercises to keep the health risks associated with a lack of activity down…
“Work is life!”—how many times have you heard someone say this? In today’s fast-paced world, work seems to be taking up more and more of our time. But, sitting at a desk for long hours on end, as multiple studies have suggested, isn’t good for you. Common complaints include sore wrists, stiffness and back pain. What’s more, prolonged periods of inactivity have even been linked to more serious health issues like repetitive motion disorders and even cardiovascular disease. So, this week, we take a look at a few simple exercises that you can do, while you’re at work, to keep yourself healthier.
Head, neck and shoulders
To combat stiffness in the head, neck and shoulder area, try the following:
– Slowly tilt your head towards your right shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds. Release. Repeat on the other side. Follow this by pressing your chin to your chest and slowly rolling your neck clockwise, a few times, and then, anti-clockwise.
– Now, roll both your shoulders forward in a circular motion, 10 times. Then, roll both shoulders backwards in a circular motion 10 times. You can also raise your shoulders to your ear, hold and relax, a few times.
– Tip: Even when you’re not exercising, you should make sure that you sit at your desk in a way that doesn’t strain your muscles. Your feet should be flat on the floor (use a footrest if your feet don’t reach the floor), with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. The back and thigh angle should also be 90 degrees. Your lower back should rest straight against the back of your chair, to help you maintain a good posture and avoid hunching over, which can cause spasms in the neck and back. The top third of your computer screen should be above eye level and you shouldn’t be craning your neck forward while working.
Many of us use computers throughout the day at work. This can put a real strain on your eyes. Try the below to help soothe tired eyes:
– Look away from your computer every 20 minutes by gazing at a faraway object for at least 20 seconds. If you prefer, you can gaze at a distant object for 10 to 15 seconds and then look at a closer one for 10 to 15 seconds—repeat 10 times. These exercises help reduce eye strain and refocus your vision.
– Blink more often. When working on a computer, we tend to blink less—almost one-third less than normal. Blinking helps prevent eye dryness and irritation through moistening. Every 20 minutes, try closing your eyes slowly 10 times.
– Tip: Consider adjusting the brightness of your computer screen to match the brightness of your workstation; use a font size that’s easy to read; and consider using anti-glare glasses.
Hands and arms
Keep your hands and arms from getting stiff, through the following:
– Stretch your right arm in front of you, your palm facing out and fingers facing the floor. Use your left hand to gently pull down the fingers on your right hand to stretch the forearm. This is good for the wrist, forearm and hands. Reverse arms and repeat the exercise.
– Do some hand stretches by transitioning from tight fists to spread-out fingers. Then, bend your fingers. Repeat several times. You can also make circles with clenched fists—move clockwise to the count of 10 and then anticlockwise—shake out your hands afterwards.
– If you’re not too shy, try shadowboxing (taking jabs at the air) and arms pumps (pumping both your arms over your head) for 30-second bursts.
– You can also stretch both arms up and then back, as much as possible. Then, bring the arms forward, in front of you. Repeat a few times.
Chest, torso and back
For your upper body, try these:
– To open up your chest, stretch your arms back imagining your trying to grab a pen between your shoulder blades. You can also try holding your hips and gently bending backwards.
– Twist your back by sitting up straight in your chair, placing your left arm behind your left hip, twisting to the left and holding. Change sides and repeat.
– For your upper back and shoulders, extend your left arm in front of you; then, using your right hand, grab the left elbow and pull it across your chest; switch arms and repeat.
– Move to the edge of your chair, keep your back straight, stretch your arms out in front of you and contract and relax your abdominal muscles several times.
– Sit or stand up straight, interlock your fingers and stretch your arms overhead. As your palms are rising towards the ceiling, lift your chin up and tilt your head back, until you’re staring at the ceiling. Inhale, exhale, relax.
Feet and legs
The following exercises can help keep your legs from getting rigid.
– First off, try to get up and walk around the office, or if possible, outside, every hour or so. And, try taking the stairs when coming into and leaving the office.
– Do some toe raises, by lifting your toes while your heels are firmly planted on the floor.
– Extend your legs and roll your ankles clockwise and then anticlockwise to keep them from getting stiff.
– While seated, rapidly tap your feet in place, mimicking a running movement, for 30-second stretches.
– Try this leg extension. Grab your chair and extend your legs straight out in front of you, so that they are parallel to the floor. Now, flex and point your toes, five times. Relax and repeat the exercise several times.
– For your calves, try standing in front of your desk (so that you can hold it for balance, if necessary) and then raise your heels off the floor and slowly lower them.
– And, don’t forget your derriere! Try a gluteal squeeze… Tense up the muscles in your behind, hold for 10 seconds, relax. Repeat a few times.
While all the above exercises are excellent, remember, the takeaway is not to stay stationary for long periods of time. So, start paying attention to how long you’re in one position for and try to move more frequently, if nothing else.