We weren't designed to sit at a desk for eight-plus hours a day, but that's how many of us now spend our time. And it can take a toll on our bodies, particularly when we sit fixed before the monitor for hours on end — a practice some have dubbed "binge computing" — and skip regular workouts outside the job. The good news is that you don’t have to be physically active all at one time.
Aim to sit no longer than 50 minutes at a time. Take a few minutes to get up and get your body moving through a short walk or activities like side bends and arm or ankle circles. Stretching is a good idea because muscles get short and tight (particularly those of the neck, wrist, back, hip, shoulders, chest, and the hip flexors) when we sit at our desks for long periods. Consider doing some of these exercises before work too, as a warm-up.
Aim for a well-rounded workout that takes into account any symptoms you're having on the job. A good personal trainer or physical therapist can offer guidance. The following exercises are recommended to ease muscle tension and promote healthy blood flow. These stretches of the neck, fingers, and arms can be done at your desk!
Find an uncluttered corner in your office or cubicle. Stand about a foot away from the walls, facing the corner. Raise your elbows until they are level with your shoulders and then place both forearms directly on the walls. Next, keeping your body in alignment, lean into the corner and hold for 10 seconds. You should feel a good stretch across the pectoral muscles in your chest.
Position your right arm straight in front of you with your palm facing outward and your fingers pointing down. Using the left hand, gently pull the palm toward you and hold for a count of 10. Next, raise your hand so that your palm is facing away from your body and your fingers are pointing toward the ceiling. With the left hand, gently pull the right hand toward your body and hold for a count of 10. Repeat with the left arm.
Sitting tall in the chair with the neck relaxed, gently tilt the head to each side, the front and back, holding each position for a count of 10.
Start with one hand pointing toward the ceiling. Make a fist. Then touch your fingertips to the base of your palm, keeping the thumb straight. Next, make a hook with your fingers, and then straighten them out again. Repeat 5 times.