Sitting at a desk all day can be harder than it sounds.
“Too much sitting in one position puts a lot of strain on the body,” Beau Johnson, a physical therapist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Holmen, says. “It can leave you feeling stiff and sore.”
It can also leave you feeling tired. (We’re talking to you, 3 p.m. slump.)
To break the cycle, try getting up to move every half hour or so. Walk to get a drink of water or touch base with a colleague about something you’d normally discuss via email. Or, try a few of the stretches and exercises below, which can be done right from the comfort of your cubicle:
- Neck stretches: Bring your chin to your chest and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Then, rotate your head left and then right, holding 15 to 30 seconds on each side. Finally, tilt your head to the side, leaning your ear toward your shoulder. Again, hold for 15 to 30 seconds on each side.
- Standing stretches: While standing, put a hand on your desk or chair to stabilize yourself. Bend one leg, grab your ankle and pull it toward your buttock. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Then, stand with feet hip width apart and arms crossed across your chest. Twist to the left, then the right. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.
- Pushups and triceps dips: Use your desk to do pushups. Do triceps dips on the arms of your office chair.
- Forearm stretches: Lift one of your arms and hold it comfortably in front of you, palm facing down. Bend your hand downward, and gently pull it toward you using your other hand. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Then, lift one of your arms and hold it comfortably in front of you, palm facing up. Bend your hand downward, and gently pull it toward you using your other hand. Again, hold for 15 to 30 seconds on each side.
- Seated stretches: While seated, bring one of your knees toward your chest. Use your hands to grab the back of your thigh, and gently pull it toward you. Keep your back straight, being careful not to lean forward. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Relax and return to the starting position, and repeat the stretch with your other leg.
“Just a small amount of movement throughout the day can really help you stay alert and focused,” Johnson says.