If there’s one thing I’ve struggled with most since starting full-time work — apart from actually having to get dressed in the morning instead of spending all day in my pyjamas — it’s the constant sitting down.
Like most people who work in an office, it’s not uncommon for me to stay in the exact same position at my desk from the moment I arrive in the morning ’til home-time in the evening. But as more and more studies show just how dangerous sedentary movement can be, it’s got me desperately searching for ways to stretch, move and exercise without strange looks from my colleagues.
The good news is that it’s possible to get moving without leaving your desk.
“Despite statistics showing that our bodies are not built to sit at a desk, most of us spend more than 30% of our lives there,” says Winter Olympian and owner of Studio PP Stephanie Prem. (Post continues after gallery.)
According to Love Me Fitness‘s Emily Barron, the recommended 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise is not enough for those who sit at their desks all day.
“You need to get up and move every 40 minutes – it will have such a big impact on your productivity at work as well as your long term health,” she says. “It’s so important for your health and wellbeing to keep active. Sitting still for long periods of time increases the risks of a whole range of health issues.”
1. Neck stretch
Both Prem and Barron recommend neck stretches.
2. Chest stretch
"A big issue when it comes to sitting at the desk for too long is rounded shoulders," says Barron.
To do: Clasp hands together behind your head and bring the elbows together. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, engage your upper back muscles and pull elbows back.
3. Upper Back stretch
"Thoracic mobility is so important for those that get caught typing away at a keyboard all day. An upper back stretch combines with your neck stretch will eleveate mid, upper back and neck tension," says Prem.
To do: From your sitting position, take your hands and interlock them behind your head, being sure to sit up tall with a nice straight spine. From here, imagine there are two panes of glass in front and behind you.
Lean from side to side down towards your hips and stay upright, letting your core do the work. Then, cross your hands across your chest and rotate left to right from your core and spine, not hips.
4. Scapula retraction
To do: Sit up tall. Proceed to squeeze your shoulder blades together for three seconds, then relax. Repeat four times.
5. Sit squats
"Every time you go to stand up out of your chair, think of doing your booty some good with this exercise!" advises Prem.