Exercise?!?!?!? When?? Between meetings? Amid the rapid-fire of emails, conference calls, phone calls and computer work??
The typical adult works seated at a desk for some eight hours a day, plus sitting-down driving or riding to and from work with several rationalized evenings spent in front of the television. Being lazy? No! Day filled with too much to do? Likely! Will sitting all day increase the risk for obesity, back pain, poor posture, leg cramps, tense muscles and early health issues? Yes! Research indicates having a desk job for more than a decade doubles the risk of a major type of health issue. Can you make slight adjustments each day to benefit your well-being? Yes you can!
Simply stated, exercise is the act of keeping the body busy, using muscles and bones while keeping your heart pumping. The word exercise comes from the Latin word, exercere, meaning to keep busy or at work. There are exercises you can do right at your desk to keep your body moving. They will assist in improving your overall body flexibility and strength.
Start by ensuring that your desk chair is at the proper height so you are in a 90-90-90 position. Place feet flat on the floor or on a foot rest, knees and hips bent at 90-degree angles. Use the chair to keep your lower spine flat against the back, keeping your back and neck erect, shoulders back; do not hunch forward over your keyboard. S- T- R- E- T- C- H regularly your neck, arms, legs and torso while sitting. Remember the song, Head, shoulders, knees and toes?
Stretch your neck. Slowly flex your head forward and then backward, side to side (ear toward your shoulder) and look right and then left. This can lessen tension and strain. Tilt your chin toward your chest and move your chin side to side slowly like a pendulum. Sit facing forward, then turn your head to the right and your torso to the left, and hold a few seconds. Repeat, alternating sides. It is not recommended to roll your head around your neck.
Stretch your shoulders. Bring your shoulder to your ear, hold and then relax. Repeat, alternating shoulders. Slowly, roll both shoulders forward around 10 times, then backward; then one at a time to relieve tension in the shoulders. Sitting up straight, try to touch your shoulder blades together. Hold, and then relax. If you have a tendency to hunch forward over your keyboard, try the following exercise: open your arms wide as if you are going to hug someone; rotate your wrists externally (thumbs going up and back) and pull your shoulders back, providing a non-strenuous stretch across your upper chest.
Stretch your arms. Stand at your desk, place your palms on the desk with your fingers pointed toward you and arms straight. Lower your body slowly until you feel the stretch. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat as needed throughout the day. Sitting tall in your chair, stretch both arms over your head and reach for the ceiling. After 10 seconds, extend the left hands higher, then the right. As if holding a bar above your head, lower your elbows to your shoulder and back up, pumping both arms over your head for 30 seconds.
Stretch your legs. While standing or seated, keeping your heels firmly on the ground, lift your toes, lower and repeat. Stand beside a piece of furniture for balance and raise your heels off the floor and slowly lower them. Seated in your chair, extend your left leg slowly until hip level. Hold and then relax, lowering slowly. Then the right leg. While seated simulating a run, tap your feet in place rapidly for 30 seconds. Slowly roll your ankle clockwise 5 times, then counterclockwise. This helps improve blood circulation.
Stretch your torso. Cross your arms over your chest and sit up very straight. Tighten your abdominal muscles while curling your shoulders forward. Hold for a few seconds and release. Sitting on the edge of your chair, stretch your arms out in front of you. Keep your back straight, contract your abdominal muscles; relax and repeat.
Take the stairs every chance you get. Walk to your coworker’s office instead of emailing or IM. Park in the most distant space in the lot, if not walk or bike to work. Drink water all day. Watch your calorie intake. Make a conscious effort to be active, even for a few minutes throughout the day. Remember to check with a doctor before starting any exercise regimen.