Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Fit to sit:

If you spend hours each day at a desk, make a move to avoid the common sore spots for your back, neck, shoulders and upper extremities.
By Amanda Ferguson
Date: February 22 2013
Tags: fitness, exercise,
Editor Rating:

Are you one of those who sits behind a desk and/or in front of a computer all day? To someone who has the opposite in their job and who stands all day, it might sound like heaven - but it's not.

The parts of your body that suffer are back, neck, shoulders and the upper extremities. The most important thing to do is to get up and move around to help release spinal compression and keep the circulation going. 

Here are a few tips to help you stay fit and healthy, while also making sure you have lots of energy throughout the day and are not tempted to have a ‘nanna nap’ underneath your desk!

1.  Exercise in the mornings – it will pump you full of energy ready for the day. If you leave in a large city and have a commute, then incorporate your exercise into it. Walk, run or cycle to work (as long as there are showers). Or do it part of the way. 

2.  Get up from your desk every 45 minutes or so, walk around, grab some water, go to the loo or just stand up and have a stretch! When you get a ‘phone call, that might be a good time to stand up and stretch also. Don't send an e-mail to someone two offices away - go and talk to them!

3.  Get out of the office at lunchtime. If you can, eat your lunch outside, but certainly away from your desk and your office. Go for a walk, get a bit of fresh air and clear your head. You will feel recharged and be more productive throughout the afternoon.

4.  If you work in a building with several stories, take the stairs, not the lift! It’s a great cardio workout, great for the legs. It might make you a little sweaty, so why not do it on your way home, go down the stairs, then up and then down again - repeat it as many times as you can - always challenging yourself! If you have a shower at work, do it before work or during your lunch break instead!

6.  If you are not a morning exercise person, or you can’t incorporate exercise into your commuting time, why not organise a lunchtime workout session, or an evening workout session with a Personal Trainer?  You could even organise a group workout – whether it be a walk, a run, a fitness session, Pilates or similar. It will make you all feel better and it’s great team building too!

Here are some exercises and stretches to try when you get a chance.

Spinal rolls: Start standing with your back straight. Sequentially move to a forward bending crouched position, fingertips dangling toward your toes. First move your chin toward your chest, then round your shoulders forward so your upper back curves. Next bend forward at the waist and allow your knees to bend. Let your head hang and look toward your stomach. If you want more of a stretch, bend deeper at the waist and bend your knees if necessary so your fingers touch your toes. Hold for a few breaths, then roll up and repeat three times. Inhale deeply and move slowly as you roll up to prevent dizziness from sudden changes in blood pressure. Benefits: Reduces stress, improves circulation, and lengthens muscles of the back and legs.

Spinal Twist: Sit sideways facing the right side of your chair, with your right hand on the chair back. Make your spine vertical, not slumped. Slowly rotate your abdomen, ribs, shoulders, and head toward the right, gently pulling the right hand against the chair for leverage. Enjoy your maximum stretch for a few breaths and then slowly unwind. Sit for a few moments with a neutral spine before doing the other side. Benefits: Relieves sore lower backs and wrings out accumulated toxins.

Wrist Extension/Flexion: Reach your arms in front of you; extend your wrists while spreading out your fingers toward the ceiling (as if you are a police officer saying ‘Stop!’). Hold that position for a few seconds, then flex your wrists, reaching your fingers toward the floor; repeat 8-12 times. Benefits: Eases compression of the median nerve and tendons at the wrist; may help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

Rows: Start with your arms extended in front of you. Pull your elbows back as if you are rowing a boat. Draw your shoulder blades towards each other and down your back while keeping a neutral spine (don’t allow your back to arch, or your ribs to jut forward.) Return to starting position and repeat 8-12 times. Benefits:  Stretches pectoral muscles, strengthens upper back. Helps correct poor posture and muscular imbalances from hunching over a desk or computer.

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