Stretch your body, along with your brain, at work

Stretch your body, along with your brain, at work The good news first: While you're sitting at your desk typing, moving your mouse, reaching for the phone, moving papers around and opening and closing drawers, you are burning calories. And now, for the bad news: All that sitting — even as you enjoy the benefits of incidental movement — is horrible for your health.

Moving more is critical to keeping your body in the best shape possible. But there are disadvantages to sitting at a desk all day that standing up and walking more won't cure. Doing stretching exercises is a great way to target certain parts of your body that can become cramped, uncomfortable, rigid or wrecked not only by the fact that you sit for long periods of time, but also, by the way you sit. Ergonomics are important, to be sure, but the way you arrange your limbs and core at your desk also play into how you feel when you get up to go home for the day.

Give your lower back a break

Slouching can cause lower back and neck pain. Here is a simple stretch you can do to alleviate some of the stiffness and pain that comes with slouching. You can do it sitting or standing up:
  1. Place your hands, palms down, on your lower back.
  2. Point your fingers down and lean back.
  3. Push your breastbone up toward the sky, keeping your elbows pointing straight back.
  4. Hold for 15 seconds; then relax.
  5. Repeat the steps above twice.

Wake your leg muscles from slumber

Do you wish you could just detach your legs from your body while working? Whether they're tucked under the desk, or under your rear, or crossed on your chair, or extended straight and rigid under your desk, chances are at some point during the day, you're ready to kick them like a baby just to get rid of the cramps, spasms, aches and stiffness. Shake it all off with some calf and quadriceps stretches.
  1. Stand up, and set your back straight. Make sure your feet are planted flat on the ground. (And make sure you have enough room to fully extend your legs.)
  2. Place your hands flat on top of your right leg.
  3. Lift your right leg from your hip flexor and fully extend it straight from the knee.
  4. With your leg fully extended, flex your upper leg muscle and hold for 10 seconds.
  5. Lower your right leg slowly, once again placing your foot flat on the floor.
  6. Repeat exercise with left leg.
  7. Repeat steps above twice.

Roll yourself into relaxation

Who among us doesn't have stiff shoulders — especially when we're on deadline, or we've gotten a nastygram from a client, or when we're prepping for an important meeting, or when we're just plain working? Or maybe it's because you lift heavy stuff all day. Or use heavy equipment. Whatever your case may be, here are some shoulder stretches that can relieve you of the bondage of achy shoulders.
  1. Do this at your desk: just sit up straight, and make sure your feet are planted firmly on the ground.
  2. Stretch your right arm in front of you and across your chest, as if you were grabbing something on your left side.
  3. Bring your left arm under and in front of your right arm.
  4. Gently hug your right arm in toward your chest.
  5. Repeat with your arms reversed.
  6. Relax your arms, letting them hang down loosely at your side.
  7. Slowly roll your shoulders backwards 10 times.
  8. Slowly roll your shoulders forward 10 times.

Strengthen your core

How's your gut feeling? Even your abdominal muscles need a stretch once in a while. Keep your tummy muscles in top shape with these crunches you can do while sitting at your desk.
  1. Sit on the edge of your seat.
  2. Lean back from the waist, and keep your back straight.
  3. Hold the seat of your chair with both hands.
  4. Lift both legs up, keeping your knees bent while tightening your abdominal muscles.
  5. Straighten your legs holding your heels a few inches off the floor.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have completed 10 repetitions.

Get around (your work space)

So you sit at your desk. A lot. Well, you don't have to stay there all day, do you? You can get up, walk around, stand and stretch, right? Take your writer's block or frustration or up-to-here-with-email for a walk. Heck, you don't have to even leave the building (though you might feel better if you can — even for a few). If your building is walkable, walk it. If it has multiple stories, take the stairs, not the elevator. If you have a lunch break, walk during it. Duration isn't as important as just doing it. Getting up frequently can recharge your brain batteries and also can help you feel less like you've been curled up in a too-small space all day long.

If none of these sounds like fun for you, check out these different ways to kick it at the work place.

Sources: Work Awesome, Washington Post