Those of us who spend a good part of our day sitting at a desk know all too well the aches and pains that can come at the end of the day. Sitting too long for any reason, even simply lack of activity, can lead to discomfort. As they say, you know you’re in trouble when you get up and you groan, crack and creek so loud, you sound like an old house in a wind storm.
Moving is critical to our health. According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, no matter how much you exercise daily, just sitting for extended periods of time is a risk factor that may shorten your life. In the study of over 8,000 adults, it was found that people who sat for less than 30 minutes at a time had a lower risk of early death.
So, let’s get up and move when we can! Go for a walk! According to Dr. Thomas Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , walking is “the closest thing we have to a wonder drug.” Benefits of walking include:
- Help controlling weight
- Easing joint pain
- Boosting your immune system
- Reducing blood pressure
- And so much more.
And for those of you who find yourself stiff after sitting a long time, we can fight those stiff joints and old-before-our-time days with some simple stretches. In fact, you can do them right at your desk or on the couch as you read this! Are we ready? Sit up straight and let’s give these a try.
Note: Remember to check with your doctor before you begin any physical exercise routine to make sure you are safe. If your doctor does not advise these exercises, do not do them.
Move those legs!
- Put your feet flat on the floor. Keep your heel on the floor and slowly raise your toes off the ground, pulling towards your body. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Put a strap, belt or rolled up rag or towel under your foot. Now grab both ends of the strap and straighten your leg, lifting it off the floor so it is out in front of you. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
- No strap? No worries. Simply straighten one leg your leg out in front of you and hold for 20 to 30 seconds or until you can’t hold it up any longer. Then do the other leg.
- Put your feet flat on the floor. Now raise your heels so your feet are on their tippy toes. You should feel your calves flexing. Relax, and repeat.
Stretch those arms and shoulders!
- Hold your arms out to the sides, shoulder level. Start rotating your arms forward in small circles and then backwards in small circles. Try doing 30 of each. Feeling adventurous? Make larger circles.
- Stretch your right arm straight up. With your left arm, reach over and grab your right arm and gently pull it. Breathe normally as you switch over and stretch your other arm.
- Sit up straight and rotate your shoulders backwards 10 times and then forwards 10 times. It may be easier for some to do this one shoulder at a time.
- Sit up straight and put your right hand on your right shoulder and your left hand on your left shoulder. Keeping your hands in place, slowly try to bring your elbows together to touch. This is excellent for improving flexibility in the shoulder.
- Let your head drop forward, then gently take it back. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat this 5 times. Look to right and then the left 5 times.
- With your head upright, hold the palm of one hand against your forehead, and press your head forward, resisting with your palm. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Next clasp your hands behind your head, and press your head backward, resisting with your hands. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Now hold your right hand against the side of your head, and press your head to the right, resisting with your hand. Again, hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Then repeat on left side.
Back and Upper Body Exercises
- While sitting straight up in your chair, looking straight ahead with both feet flat on the floor, slowly tilt your torso to the right as you reach around behind yourself with your right hand. Grasp the top right corner of your chair with your right hand. Complete the stretch by moving your left hand as close as possible to your right hand. Stretch as far as you can and hold it for 15 seconds. Repeat 4 to 6 times, twisting to the right and then to the left. Try to turn the body a little farther each time.
- Lock your fingers behind your back with the palms facing in. Raise and straighten your arms, squeezing your shoulder blades together to open up your chest. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
- Tighten and squeeze (really concentrate on the squeeze!) your buttocks. Hold 5 to 10 seconds, then release. Repeat 6 to 8 times.