Denver Bar Association
July 2011
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Wellness Brief: ‘Deskercise’ for the Office-Bound

by MINES and Associates

M


ost people who exercise regularly say that being active makes them feel healthier and more energetic. And that’s not limited to joggers or tennis players. Many office workers are doing simple exercises at their desks, with surprisingly healthy benefits. These activities give you a mental boost, fight stress, and promote flexibility, health experts say.

The body dislikes staying still for long. The longer you’re still, more tension accumulates from being in one position—yet the average American sits for seven and a half hours a day! If you’re stuck behind a desk for that long, you can do some simple exercises while sitting or standing—no special skills or equipment needed. One of the simplest exercises, for instance, is to just lean back in your chair and stretch. Mind you, these exercises won’t develop your cardiovascular system, build strength, or make you look better in your bathing suit, but they will reduce muscle tension and stress and help maintain the strength, flexibility, and muscle tone you already have.

If you work at a computer, stretch your wrist muscles occasionally and take short breaks, health experts recommend. The idea is to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful wrist malady caused by repetitive movement. It’s also important to get up and walk around frequently, even if it’s just to a filing cabinet. Sitting for long periods puts stress on the lower back and leads to muscle atrophy and a loss of flexibility. A 10-minute walk is the best exercise for the office-bound, but when that’s not possible, doing quick exercises at your desk is the next best thing.

When doing these exercises, go slowly and use the full range of motion. Remember to breathe normally while holding your body in one of the stretching positions. When you’re done, finish with some slow, deep breathing. Experts recommend doing the following desk exercises every hour or so, even if you do only one exercise at a time. Anything is better than staying in one position.

Pectoral Stretch
Purpose: Stretches pectorals or chest area.

Clasp hands behind head. Pull shoulder blades together and elbows back. Repeat two times.


Sitting Bend
Purpose: Stretches lower back and hamstrings.

Sit in a chair, feet flat on the floor, knees about 12 inches apart, hands at sides. Bend over as far as comfortable, hands reaching toward or touching the floor. Hold for three to five seconds and then slowly pull your body back up into a sitting position while tightening your abdominal muscles. Relax, and repeat four to five times.

 
Wrist Flexion and Hyperextension
Purpose: Stretches wrists.

Flexion: gently apply force with the left hand to stretch the right wrist toward the underside of the right forearm. Hold for three to five seconds, relax, and repeat with other side. Repeat exercises five times with each wrist.

Hyperextension: gently apply force with the left palm to bend the right hand backward. Hold three to five seconds, relax, and repeat five times with each wrist.

 
Hug
Purpose: Stretches back and shoulders.

Brings arms across chest trying to touch as far around the back as possible. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat with a different arm on top.

 
Head Tilt
Purpose: Loosens up and stimulates neck muscles.

Slowly bend head to the right as far as possible, then to the left, then forward (with chin against your throat) and to the back. Repeat two times in each direction.

 
Vertical Stretches
Purpose: Reduces tension and activates all major muscle groups.

With feet shoulder-width apart, rise up on toes and extend the arms overhead. Alternately, reach as high as possible with each hand for seven to 10 seconds. Relax, and repeat exercise four times. D

 

Published as part of MINES & Associates Personal Advantage services and available at MINESandAssociates.com.Originally published by Krames Staywell, adapted by MINES & Associates P.C.

 

Wellness Brief is a monthly column that will look at all aspects of health and living well and offer tips on how to bring well-being to your daily life. Is there a topic you would like to read about? Please email suggestions to Docket Editor Sara Crocker, at scrocker@cobar.org.


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