Spending too much time sitting at a desk can eventually take a toll on your health
. And while the ideal solution is to break up your workday with a brisk walk, exercise class, or visit to the gym, it might be difficult to find the time and equipment needed to break a sweat.
However, incorporating daily stretches into your fitness routine can make a big difference. Make it a point to do these four stretches (courtesy of our friends at Greatist.com
) while you’re at work every day. You’ll help loosen your muscles, increase blood flow, and give yourself a much-needed boost of energy, too—no fitness equipment required.
Neck and shoulders.
Relieve shoulder stiffness caused by spending time hunched over a keyboard. While standing, reach your arms behind you and interlock your fingers, palms facing each other. Lift your arms until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders. Gently move your chin down to help protect your neck. This is a great stretch to do while seated at your desk, too.
Hip flexors and iliopsoas.
Thigh, hip and abdominal muscles can tighten during prolonged periods of sitting. To help keep them loose, kneel on the floor with your torso straight. Pick up your left leg and put your left foot on the floor (keep your knee in line with your ankle to protect your knee). Move your torso forward while gliding your knee forward, keeping your hips horizontally aligned. You’ll likely feel a stretch in your calf and Achilles tendon. If you need additional support, put your hands on top of your left thigh. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds before switching sides.
To help stretch and strengthen your core, reach your arms above you and lean back slightly so your chest and throat point upward. If you need help balancing, try keeping your gaze focused downward. Hold for 30 seconds.
Whole back/spine and hamstrings.
At the end of the day, it’s a great idea to ease built-up stress along your spine. While at work or at home, lie on your back with your feet on the floor, knees bent. Pull your knees into your chest and gently rock from side-to-side, feeling the stretch as you rotate. Extend your left leg on the floor, keeping your right knee tucked to your chest. Hold this position for several breaths to loosen your hamstring muscles. Keeping your right shoulder on the floor, gently guide your right knee across the middle of your body with your left hand. Your knee may not touch the floor, and that’s fine. After holding for 30 seconds, gently draw your knee back to the center of your body and repeat with your other leg.
For more stretches, visit Greatist
You’re feeling more relaxed and limber already, aren’t you? Try making time for these stretches daily. Your muscles will thank you.
Do you do any stretches or exercise while you’re at the office? We’d love to hear your at-work routine!
Amber Carucci heads up the team of writers for the Burns & McDonnell corporate blog as well as the Burns & McDonnell HR blog, where a version of this story first appeared. She's also part of a team that leads the company's social media efforts.