It may worry you — but not necessarily surprise you — that on average, we spend 10 hours sitting. And don’t forget we spend eight hours sleeping flat on our back. So for more than half the time we’re awake…we’re sitting down. And yes, it’s pretty typical of a desk job to involve sitting in one position while doing repetitive motions.
The problem is, this sedentary behaviour is linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. The sitting itself can contribute to various bodily pains — neck, shoulder, lower back — along with stress, carpal tunnel, musculoskeletal disorders and more, according to Healthline.
Now that we’ve covered all the doom and gloom of sitting, we’re here to combat it. One study found that periodic workplace stretching could reduce pain by up to 72%. Here are six of the best stretches you can do at your desk.
Desk Stretch #1: Tricep stretch
You’ve definitely done this before, stretching before a workout. Now, you’re doing it on your desk chair.
Raise your arm, and bend it so your hand lightly touches the back of your opposite shoulder. Use your other hand to pull gently on the bent elbow, towards your head. Hold for 10-30 seconds, before swapping sides.
Desk Stretch #2: Upper body and arm stretch
This is an easy one, that you can do two ways (three, if you’re feeling adventurous). Clasp your hands together, with your palms facing outward. Push your arm either upwards, or forwards, and stretch gently slightly further.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can clasp your hands behind your back — palms facing inwards – and push outwards until your arms are straight and shoulder blades are touching.
Desk Stretch #3: Spinal rotation
Cross your arms over your chest, grabbing onto your shoulders. From the waist, rotate your body — turn gently from left to right. Go as far as your body is comfortable with. This will feel great on your lower back.
Desk Stretch #4: Shoulder shrug
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Gently lift your shoulders up towards your ears…then let them slowly fall. That’s it — that’s the stretch. Do it about 10 times.
Desk Stretch #5: Forearm stretch
You probably spend a lot of the day typing, so this will stretch out your forearms and wrists.
Stretch one arm out and turn your hand down so the fingers point towards the floor – palm facing outwards. Use the other hand to gently pull the fingers back towards your body. Hold for 10-30 seconds, repeat on the other hand.
Desk Stretch #6: Neck rotations
Another name that gives the exercise away upfront. Keeping your head upright, turn the head from side to side with the aim to move it past your shoulder.
In addition to this, you should try standing up to work during the day — talk to your manager about standing desks. Getting up and moving every hour is also great for your body, and it can be as simple as taking a lap around the office.
You can also try going for a walk during your local park on your lunch break — it’s been proven to reduce stress.