The Ultimate “Deskercise” Stretch Routine

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  • Who Uses That Gym Membership, Anyway?

    Who Uses That Gym Membership, Anyway?

    An analysis of job industry trends over the past fifty years revealed that at least 8 in 10 American workers are desk potatoes. Neck and shoulder pain are common pals of a sedentary job.

    Not surprisingly, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that about 8 in 10 Americans will experience significant lower back pain at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, ladies, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, women are more likely to experience lower back pain and neck pain than men.

    Work out your computer screen kinks and paperwork pains with these deskercise gems. 

  • The Daydream

    The Daydream

    Gently pull each elbow to the opposite side overhead. Just pretend you’re under a Tahitian waterfall and need to scrub your shoulder blades. 

  • The Carpet Gazer

    The Carpet Gazer

    Remaining seated, extend your legs and reach toward your toes. Stare at the purplish-gray office carpet or search for lost bits of popcorn for 20 seconds. 

  • The Half-Bear Hug

    The Half-Bear Hug

    Hug one knee at a time, pulling it toward your chest. Tell passers-by you need a mini childhood flashback, or that “this is how you roll.” 

  • The Olympic Diver

    The Olympic Diver

    Clasp your hands in front of you and lower your head in line with your arms. Pretend you actually know how to dive correctly, and use this “proper technique” to impress your cubicle companions. 

  • The Almost-Aerobics Reach

    The Almost-Aerobics Reach

    Extend each arm overhead and to the opposite side as you imagine Richard Simmons goading you toward a fabulous body. 

  • The “Who Cares if I’m at Work” Shrug

    The “Who Cares if I’m at Work” Shrug

    Raise both shoulders at once up toward the ears. Drop them and repeat as you explain to your boss that you are, indeed, listening with interest. 

  • The Freedom Search

    The Freedom Search

    Clasp hands behind your back, push the chest outward, and raise the chin. Count yourself lucky if you’re not looking at suspended ceiling tiles and fluorescent bulbs.

    Tip: If you’re feeling really tight, try holding the pose for longer.   

  • The Spine-Popping Chatterbox

    The Spine-Popping Chatterbox

    Cross your legs and alternate twists toward the back of the chair. Use the rear-facing position to comment on your neighbor’s color-coded file system with near genuine admiration. Tip: Exhale as you lean into a stretch for a greater range of motion.

  • The Happy Cheer

    The Happy Cheer

    Clasp hands together above the head, stretching upward. Follow up with “spirit fingers” or some other equally cheesy high school rom-com reference to aerobic activities. 

  • The Leaning Tower of Cheer

    The Leaning Tower of Cheer

    Repeat The Happy Cheer, but lean arms and shoulders to the side—as if you’ve had too much to drink and the floor really is that crooked under your chair. 

  • The Dead Robot Dance

    The Dead Robot Dance

    Lean your head forward and slowly roll from side to side. Picture all of the times you finished a less-than-polished robot dance with dangling head and arm, and vow to record it next time. 

  • The Sophomore Headshot

    The Sophomore Headshot

    Gently pull your head toward each shoulder. Think of your yearbook photo—the one in which you tried to pose like a model but ended up looking off-kilter and half-blinking.

    Tip: With each stretch, you may find yourself more flexible. Don’t go further than is comfortable.

  • The “Get Back to Work” Finale

    The “Get Back to Work” Finale

    No stretch here, silly. This is where you drop the deskercise routine and get back to your file-filled reality. Sorry. 

  • Did You Know?

    Did You Know?

    One study found that workplace stretching can improve flexibility and—even better—your sense of attractiveness and self-worth. But that’s not all. Research indicates that periodic workplace stretching may reduce pain by up to 72 percent. And some studies show that a bit of exercise in the workday can relieve both physical and mental stress.

    Still not convinced? According to The Harvard School of Public Health, physical activity—even for short periods of time—can improve your mood. Take that, mid-day slump!

  • Stretch It Out

    Stretch It Out

    An ergonomic facelift of your cubicle isn’t necessary to reap major physical benefits from your deskercise routine. A study published in the Journal of Sports Science found that just imagining yourself performing an action can actually increase your flexibility. 

    So go ahead and stretch it out—or at least take a coffee break to daydream about it.

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