The Ultimate “Deskercise” Stretch Routine
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
No stretch here, silly. This is where you drop the deskercise routine and get back to your file-filled reality. Sorry.
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
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.
- A workplace stretching program. Physiologic and perception measurements before and after participation. (n.d.). PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved July 30, 2013, from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10025248
- American Academy of Pain Medicine - Get the Facts on Pain. (n.d.). American Academy of Pain Medicine. Retrieved July 31, 2013, from http://www.painmed.org/patientcenter/facts_on_pain.aspx
- Arthritis, Osteoporosis, and Chronic Back Conditions - Healthy People. (n.d.). Healthy People 2020 - Improving the Health of Americans. Retrieved July 31, 2013, from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?topicid=3
- Does motor imagery enhance stretching and flexibility? (n.d.). PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved July 30, 2013, from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20077278
- Effects of intermittent stretching exercises at work on... [Work. 2010] - PubMed - NCBI. (n.d.). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved July 31, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20555173
- Endogenous reward mechanisms and their importance in stress reduction, exercise and the brain.. (n.d.). PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved July 30, 2013, from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22371784
- Harvard School of Public Health: The Benefits of Physical Activity. (n.d.). Harvard School of Public Health. Retrieved July 31, 2013, from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/staying-active-full-story/
- PLOS ONE: Trends over 5 Decades in U.S. Occupation-Related Physical Activity and Their Associations with Obesity. (n.d.). PLOS ONE : accelerating the publication of peer-reviewed science. Retrieved July 31, 2013, from http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0019657