Americans sit A LOT. The average American sits for eight hours a day, whether at their desk at work, driving in their car, or sitting at their computer at home. Sitting this much is bad for your health.
It slows metabolism, increases our risks for diabetes, heart disease, and a bunch of other illnesses. On top of being dangerous, sitting for long periods of time can make the muscles in the legs, hips, arms, and neck feel very tight and uncomfortable.
So what can be done to combat all this sitting? Besides living a healthy lifestyle, going to the gym or exercising, and eating healthy, doing some simple stretches at work can go a long way. Breaking up long periods of sitting with short stretches increases blood flow to the extremities and joints and can actually make you feel more energized for your tasks ahead.
We suggest setting a timer on your phone and taking three to five minutes every hour to stretch. If your boss isn’t a fan of this, then take some paperwork with you to read while you stretch (then, you can show your boss this article about how stretching in the workplace has been shown to increase productivity)!
Here are the five stretches we recommend doing at work to reduce some of the risks associated with sitting too much and too long:
- Forward fold. This one is easy and feels great. Bend your knees and let your feet be about hips width distance apart. Take about 10 deep breaths as you let the upper body just hang over the legs. This not only stretches your legs, but also stretches out the low back which tends to tighten when sitting for long periods of time.
- Gentle neck rolls. Let your head fall gently to one side, then to the other. Do this about 5 times on each side. This relieves much of the pressure that builds up in the neck from sitting at a desk and looking at a computer.
- Shoulder stretch. Interlace your hands behind your lower back, straighten the arms, and squeeze the shoulders together. You can sway from side to side here to increase the stretch.
- Twist. Stand up tall and open the arms out to either side. Rotate the arms and torso to one side, take a few breaths, then switch sides. This increases the blood flow to the midsection and is also energizing.
- Standing thigh stretch. Standing tall, bend the right knee and reach behind you with the right hand and grab onto the right foot. You can hold onto your desk for balance if needed. Keep the back straight and the thighs parallel. Take a few breaths and switch sides.
Which stretches do you incorporate into your workday? We’d love to hear from you!