Working from home? Try building the following exercises into your working day to help avoid aches and pains associated with being sedentary.
Make sure you move regularly throughout the day to help reduce stress.
Break up prolonged periods of sitting with short bursts of activity to improve your mental health and circulation. This can be small amounts of light walking, moving around the house, cleaning, gardening or going up and down the stairs every 30 minutes.
Increasing your daily activity and doing some more structured exercise such as a brisk walk outside, yoga or weight training can reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.
Simple stretches, designed by expert physiotherapists, can help ease the aches and pains associated with sitting for long periods at home:
The chest stretch
- Sit forward from the back of your chair
- With your thumbs pointing towards the ceiling, open your arms out to the side until you feel a stretch in the front of your chest. Ensure your shoulders are back and down
- Aim to switch on the muscles between your shoulder blades by gently drawing them together. You should not feel pain or tingling in your arms
- Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and repeat three times.
The leg stretch
Try the following to stretch out your quads:
- Stand in front of your desk and place your left hand on it for balance
- Standing on your left leg, raise your right heel towards your right buttock
- Grab hold of your right foot with your right hand. You should feel a stretch along the front of your thigh
- Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, repeat three times and then switch legs.
The sit stretch
Address this problem with the following stretch:
- Perch on the edge of your seat and stretch your right leg out in front of you
- Rest your heel on the floor with your foot pointing up
- Lean forward slightly from your hips and look straight ahead. You should feel a gentle stretch but no pain along the back of your right leg
- Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, repeat three times and then swap legs.
Sitting desk? Standing desk? There is no perfect posture or right or wrong desk set up:
- You may experience aches and pains as the body is not used to being in a particular position for prolonged periods of time.
- The key is to keep moving. Your best posture is your next posture!
- Take regular breaks for movement, try setting an alarm to remind you to get up and move. You will also find breaks beneficial for your mental health.
- If you need to make a phone call, try and get away from your desk. Stand up and walk around the room.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Stretch out your arms and rest your palms against the wall at shoulder-height and slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
- Take a couple of tiny steps back, engage your tummy muscles, and slowly bend your arms at the elbows. Keep your back and neck straight and look at the wall in front of you
- Lower yourself until you are a couple of inches away from the wall, then push yourself back up to your starting position
- Make sure you lead with your chest so your arms are doing the work. Do not allow your back to arch
- Aim for three sets of ten press-ups. To make this exercise more challenging, move your legs further back.