There's no denying it: Stretching feels amazing. And, when you spend a lot of time sitting, especially at a desk or computer, it's even more important to take exercise breaks to move your body. Even just a few minutes helps get the blood flowing and often provides the boost of energy you need to get through the day with increased productivity.|
Then there's the toll sitting can take on your body: Prolonged periods of sitting can put a strain on your neck, shoulders and back as you slump forward to type or read a computer screen. Sitting in a chair leaves your hip flexors in a shortened and tight position, which can limit your range of motion and stride length when walking. Sedentary behavior also increases your risk of cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. Significant inactivity during the day, even if you're a regular exerciser outside of work, doesn't offset the health risks associated with an overall lack of movement.
Since you can't rely on just your morning workout to keep you healthy, it's important to add movement to your day whenever possible. This could mean taking the long route to the bathroom, walking to someone's desk instead of emailing them or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. For those days when you can find five minutes here or there to squeeze in a stretch break, be prepared with this set of eight quick moves. Let's be honest: Anyone can find five minutes in their day if they make it a priority, and a workout like this can be done in even the smallest amount of space. Doesn't your body deserve it?
Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, repeating two or three times, depending on how you feel. Remember, never stretch to the point of pain. If you have balance issues and standing stretches are a challenge, you can hold onto a chair for support or do them in a seated position.
Reinvigorate Your Workday With These 8 Stretches
Sit or stand with shoulders relaxed and the back straight. Bring your left ear toward your left shoulder and hold. Roll your head down toward the ground, bringing your chin to your chest. Hold and then roll your head to the right and bring that ear to your right shoulder. Inhale and exhale in a slow and controlled manner throughout the movement.
Stand tall with back straight, feet wider than the hips, arms in line with the shoulders (like a "T"), palms down. Turn your left toes out to the side and keep your right toes pointed forward. Lean to the left, bending at the hip and allow your left hand to fall naturally, resting on your thigh, shin, ankle or the floor and extending your right arm straight up toward the ceiling, keeping chest open. Breathe deeply and hold. Repeat on opposite side.
Stand tall or sit upright. Place your left elbow in your right hand. Reach your left arm overhead and down the spine, placing palm on the center of your back while supporting the elbow in your right hand. Reach your fingertips down your spine. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears. Repeat with opposite arm.
Stand tall or sit upright. Bring your left arm across your chest, holding it below the elbow with your opposite hand. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears. Breathe deeply and hold, then repeat on opposite side.
Wrist and Biceps Stretch
Stand tall and extend left arm in front of you with the palm facing outward and fingertips pointing down. Use your right hand to apply light pressure to the hand, as if pulling your fingertips toward your elbow. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears. Breathe deeply and hold. Repeat on opposite side.
Standing Quad Stretch
Stand tall, holding onto a chair or wall for balance, if needed. Keep your feet hip-width apart, your back straight and your feet parallel. Reach back and grab your left foot in your left hand, keeping your thighs lined up next to each other and left leg in line with the hip (not pulled back behind you). For a deeper stretch, kick the foot into the hand while maintaining proper knee alignment. Breathe deeply and hold. Repeat on opposite side.
Wide-Leg Modified Hamstring Stretch
Stand tall with back straight, feet wider than the hips and arms at your sides. Turn from the waist to face your right leg. Bend forward from the waist, placing your hands on your right thigh for support, until your back is flat. Think of reaching your chin out toward the floor in front of your right foot. Breathe deeply and hold. Repeat on opposite side.
Clasp hands together and slowly raise them above your head toward the ceiling. Reach as high as you can with the palms facing the ceiling and while inhaling deeply, then hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Bring your hands down slowly while exhaling.
By incorporating regular stretching into your routine at least three to four days per week, you'll quickly notice a difference in your flexibility and your body will begin looking forward to the boost in energy that a quick stretch break provides.