by Stephanie Nickel
As a freelance writer and editor, I spend several hours a day at my desk. (To be honest, being an extreme extrovert, I also spend hours on social media as well.)
So, how do I avoid stiffening up and add exercise to my routine without going for a walk or popping in a DVD?
Staying active also keeps one’s brain functioning more clearly. It’s better than caffeine and sugar any day.
Here are some suggestions you might want to try:
1. My eye doctor told me about the 20/20/20 rule. Never look at the screen for more than 20 minutes at a time. Every 20 minutes focus on something at least 20 feet away to give your eyes a rest.
2. Frequently take note of your posture. Feet flat on the floor. Knees at 90 degrees. Stomach pulled in. Pelvic tilt (hips pressed forward). Spine straight. Shoulders up, back, and down. Chin pulled back. An imaginary rope coming from the top of your head pulling you as tall as possible. (Also make sure your desk chair is at the correct height so your elbows are at 90 degrees when typing on your keyboard.)
To avoid tension building up in your neck and shoulders, try the following:
3. Drop your ear toward your shoulder and hold for a count of 5-10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
4. Look over one shoulder. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat, looking over the opposite shoulder.
5. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down often. From time to time, roll them forward as well. For the sake of posture, however, always end with rolling them up, back, and down.
Exercises for your pectoral muscles across your chest, your shoulders, and your upper back
6. Hold your arms at 90 degrees (like football goalposts). Reach up, bringing your hands together overhead. Return to 90 degrees. Repeat 12-24 times or while reviewing one-half to a complete page.
7. Raise your elbows level with your shoulders, hands one on top of the other in front of your chest. Reach across your body first with one hand then with the other. Feel the twist in your oblique muscles (your sides). Repeat 12-24 reaches per side.
8. Begin with your arms in the same position as in #7. Draw your shoulder blades together, pulling your elbows backward. Return to starting position. Extend your arms out and draw your shoulder blades together again. Repeat the sequence 12-24 times.
Exercises for your lower body (These, too, can be done while reviewing work on your computer screen.)
9. Stand up and push your desk chair out of the way. Stand straight. Feet should be just a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Sit back as if going to sit in your chair. Come down to between 45 and 90 degrees. Be certain your back remains straight and your knees don’t jut over your toes. Squat 12-24 times. (To make this exercise more challenging, take a wide stance, toes pointed slightly outward. You will feel these squats along your inner thighs as well as in your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.)
10. March for 30 seconds-1 minute, bringing your knees to at least 90 degrees. To increase your heart rate, reach overhead each time you raise your knee. Bring your hands to your shoulders each time you return your foot to the floor.)
Always, always, always be conscious of good posture, no matter what exercise you are doing.
What exercises do you find help if you are at your desk for extended periods?
Steph Beth Nickel is an author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer.