We are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles, and 81% of UK office workers sit down for up to nine hours each day.
When you are sitting, your muscles are not contracting, which is thought to slow the metabolism, and remaining seated for long periods of time can cause a range of problems for your muscles and joints. In fact, 25% of people with desk jobs say the position they work in leaves them with muscle aches at the end of the day.
Unfortunately, it seems that even exercising regularly when you’re not at work isn’t enough to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting. The good news, though, is that taking a short break for movement each hour, even for just one minute, can make a big difference to your health.
Stretching not only benefits your muscles and joints, but it can reduce stress and help boost your productivity. It’s also really easy to do under your desk or in a corner of the office without anyone noticing, which makes it perfect for getting you moving during the working day. Here are a few simple stretches that you can sneak in while you’re checking your emails.
- Head Turn
Turn your head to the left as far as you comfortably can. Hold it there for a few seconds while you take a peek over your shoulder, then return to centre. Repeat on your right side. Just don’t do it too many times or your neighbours might start to wonder what you’re noseying at.
- Leg Press
Sneak a ream of paper out of the stationery cupboard and, once you’ve smuggled it over to your desk and you’re sitting back down, put it in between your knees. Press your legs towards each other – you should feel your inner thighs working. Keep squeezing for 30 – 60 seconds.
- Calf Raise
Standing waiting for the kettle to boil or for the printer to churn out that 90-page report? Take the opportunity to work your calves. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, raise up onto your tip-toes and hold for five seconds, then lower back down. Repeat 15 times, or until you need to fix a printer jam.
- Spinal Rotation
Cross your arms over your chest and hold your shoulders. Turn your body from the waist to the left side as far as you can, then turn to the right. You should feel your lower back stretching. Keep turning from side to side until you get concerned people might be starting to think you’re hugging yourself.
- Bicep Pull
Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor, and hold hands with yourself – imagine you’re giving yourself a handshake, so that one thumb is pointing down and the other pointing up. Keep your hands tightly clasped and pull. Hold for 10 seconds, feeling the stretch in your biceps. Release, then repeat.
Whether you’re a regular mover, or you take life at a slower pace, if you’re experiencing aches and pains then get in touch to see how we can help. And if you just can’t get enough deskercise, follow us on Twitter where we’ll be sharing more #DeskWorkout tips every Thursday.
* Contact Reach Physiotherapy for a list of references used for this blog content.