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November 4, 2016 - TCO

7 easy exercises anyone can do at their desk

The Twin Cities is a wonderful place to live and work, as evidenced by numerous livability rankings and annual employment statistics. But even a healthy population like ours can’t avoid the fact that we spend the majority of our work days sitting. The average American spends 7.8 hours at work, and nearly all of that time is spent sitting at a desk. In fact, full-time employees of large companies report spending an average of 28 work hours per week sitting.

Most people know sitting for long periods of time is bad for their overall health and well-being. As this Washington Post article outlines, being seated for extended periods can lead to organ damage, muscle degeneration, leg problems and shoulder, neck and back pain. Fortunately, there are simple ways to prevent these types of problems.

At Twin Cities Orthopedics, our goal is to help everyone discover their own personal routine for leading a happy, healthy and active lifestyle. We’ve compiled a list of simple tips for staying active while putting in a long day’s work, including seven easy exercises that anyone can do at the office.

Simple tips for staying active at work

Find time to move around.
On busy days it can be easy to lose track of time and spend the entire work day sitting at the desk, staring at the computer. Even on crazy days, a little bit of movement like leaving your desk for lunch can have a big impact.

Try this: bring a small water bottle (at least 8 ounces) to work and try to finish it every hour. Not only will you stay hydrated, which has enormous benefits, you will have reason to walk and refill it every 60 minutes.

Schedule time to stand, not sit.
Identify ahead of time situations throughout your work day when you can stand up instead of sitting. Make phone calls while standing, or while pacing in a conference room. Hold team meetings in a place where you can stand or even walk as a group. Choose to take the stairs rather than riding the elevator.

Get others on board.
Share your ideas with others in your workplace, and try to get more people involved. Find walking buddies for afternoon strolls around the block. Get your whole team excited to hold meetings while standing up. Not only will people understand why you’re standing at your desk, you’ll be helping others feel better throughout the day as well.

7 easy exercises anyone can do at the office

Change your chair. OK, it’s not exactly an exercise, but swapping your chair for an exercise ball or backless stool will force you to use your core throughout the day. No matter what chair you use, be sure to sit up straight. It may sound silly at first, but try writing yourself reminders on Post-It notes or setting calendar alerts throughout the day.

Simple stretches. Find a place where you feel comfortable doing some simple stretches each day. Even if your work attire makes flexibility difficult or you don’t have a place to stretch while seated on the ground, it’s still possible to stretch almost every part of your body. Focus on your hip flexors, back, neck, shoulders and chest. Stretching your large leg muscles can also help you feel refreshed and re-energized throughout the day.

Shoulder shrugs. Inhale deeply and shrug your shoulders, lifting them as high as you can by your ears. Hold for 5 seconds. Exhale and drop your shoulders. Repeat three times.

Head and neck stretches. Keeping your back straight, slowly move your head forward and chin towards your chest as far as you can and hold for 3 seconds, then slowly tilt your head back as far as possible and hold for 3 seconds. Repeat twice.  Next, slowly shake your head. Move your chin as far as you can to the left above your shoulder and hold for 3 seconds, then relax and slowly turn your chin as far as you can to the right above your shoulder and hold for 3 seconds. Repeat twice. Do not use your hands to overextend, as this can cause strain and injury.

Clench and open your hands. Squeeze your hands into as tight a fist as possible and hold for 3 seconds, then open your hands and stretch your fingers out as far as possible for 3 seconds. Repeat three times.

Leg extensions. Hold the seat of your chair for balance, then extend your legs and point your toes straight ahead of you, so they are parallel with the floor. Hold for 5 seconds, then relax and let your feet touch the ground. Repeat four times.

Use resistance bands. Bring a simple resistance band to work with you and spend a few minutes during the day stretching and working out your upper body. This printable guide diagrams a variety of seated exercises to choose from, including chest pulls, back rows, shoulder raises and bicep curls.

At Twin Cities Orthopedics, we pride ourselves on helping each and every patient become a happier, healthier person. Even if you love your job, the average person spends 40 hours per week working from ages 20-65, which adds up to more than 10 years. Don’t just sit around at work. Use your time wisely and dedicate a few minutes here and there to stand up, move around, stretch and exercise. Trust us; it works.