"Deskercise" at Your Day Job

When you sit at a desk for 8+ hours a day, 5+ days a week, tension can build up in your body, causing muscle tightness, joint stiffness, and other health issues. This doesn’t come as a surprise – biologically speaking, our bodies are not meant to be sedentary for extended periods of time.

While we don’t recommend that you quit your day job, we do encourage you to try something called “deskercising” to help prevent body pains and strains when putting in those long hours at work.  “Deskercising” is a combination of stretching, strengthening, and movement exercises that can be done without stepping foot outside the office. Here are some deskercises that are designed to help ease tension, increase flexibility, and to get your circulation going from head to toe.

Neck Deskercises
• Keeping your head up, hold the palm of one hand against your forehead, and press your head forward, resisting with your palm. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Now clasp your hands behind your head, and press your head backward, resisting with your hands. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Now hold your right hand against the side of your head, and press your head to the right, resisting with your hand. Again, hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Then, repeat this on the left side.
• Relax your shoulders and let your head roll forward, chin to chest. Slowly rotate your head in a circle without straining your neck. Repeat five times. Relax. Then rotate in the opposite direction and repeat five times. Try not to raise your shoulders.

Arm Deskercises
• Stretch your arms up, one at a time, as high as you can, as if reaching to pick an apple out of a tree. Repeat 10 times, alternating sides.
• Stand facing a wall, with your feet apart and about 12 inches from the wall. Rest your palms on the wall at about shoulder height. Bend your elbows and lean toward the wall as far as possible without letting your forearms touch the wall. Keeping your legs and back straight, push yourself back to starting position. The farther from the wall you stand, the greater the shoulder effort needed to push back. Gradually increase your distance from the wall as you become stronger, but do not exceed two feet.

Glutes Deskercises
• Tighten and squeeze your buttocks, hold five to ten seconds, and release. Repeat six to eight times. Really concentrate on the “squeeze” for maximum results.

Leg Deskercises
• Stand with your back against a wall and feet apart and about 16 inches from the wall. Lower yourself into a seated position, keeping feet flat on the floor, and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Stand up and relax for 30 seconds. Repeat three times. Do not bend your knees beyond a 90-degree angle.
• Stand with your feet comfortably apart, toes turned slightly outward. Hold the back of a chair if you need support. Keep your back straight and slowly bend your knees over your toes (don’t let your knees extend beyond your toes). Straighten your body by pushing up through your feet.

Shoulder Deskercises
• Standing upright, push both arms straight back with your palms facing down and hold for five seconds. Bend arms in at the elbow (like a hinge), fingers pointing straight ahead, and hold for five seconds. Repeat 5-10 times.
• Standing upright, clasp your hands and hold them close to your right shoulder, as though resting an ax there. Gently swing the ax by straightening your elbows and moving your hands toward your left thigh. Raise your clasped hands to your left shoulder, and swing the ax toward your right thigh. Repeat on both sides seven or eight times.
• Sit up straight in a chair. Raise your arms so that elbows are flared in an outward position and hands are at shoulder level in front of your body. Keep hands at shoulder level and push your elbows as high as you can, isolating the pressure on your shoulders. Repeat 10 to 15 times. Perform the first few slowly and smoothly, the next few faster and more intense, and the last couple slow and smooth.
• Place your fingertips on your shoulders, elbows pointing out to the sides. Pull your elbows back as far as you can. Push your elbows forward and try to touch them together. Repeat 10 times. Now, keeping your fingertips on your shoulders, lift your elbows up and then push them down to your sides, as if you’re trying to fly. Repeat 10 times.
• Sit or stand tall. Lift your shoulders as high as you can. Bring them forward. Push them down. Pull your shoulders back, then return to starting position. Repeat in the opposite direction. Repeat three to five times.

Hand & Wrist Deskercises
• Do each hand individually. Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of each finger in turn, making the circle as round as you can. Straighten your fingers in between touching each finger

Back & Upper Body Deskercises
• Sit up straight in a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Look straight ahead. Slowly tilt your torso to the right as you reach around behind yourself with your right hand. Grasp the top right corner of your chair with your right hand. Complete the stretch by moving your left hand as close as possible to your right hand. Stretch as far as you can and hold it for 15 seconds. Repeat four to six times, twisting left and right, aiming to turn the body a little farther each time.
• Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold your bent elbows down at your sides with fists up. Lean slightly forward and twist side to side with your elbows leading the movement. Repeat for 30 to 45 seconds.
• Stand with your feet spread shoulder width apart. Raise one arm, then bend over sideways reaching over your head, until your arm is parallel to the floor (or as far as you can). Hold for five to 10 seconds. Repeat with other arm.
• Interlace your fingers behind your back, palms facing in. Raise and straighten your arms, squeezing your shoulder blades together and “opening up” your chest. Fold for five to ten seconds. Repeat five to ten times.

Hamstring Deskercises
• From a standing position, extend one leg out in front of your other leg about 10 inches, lifting your toes and digging your heel into the ground. Bend the back leg slightly, and put both hands on the thigh of your back leg to support your weight. You should feel the stretch in the back of your front leg. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Now push the toes of the front leg down to the floor and hold for another 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
• Stand and hold on to something stable for support, such as a file cabinet or bookshelf. Slowly lift one heel toward your buttocks, then lower. The knee of the supporting leg should be slightly bent during the exercise, not locked. Repeat 12 to 15 times on each side. At home try using ankle weights for added resistance.
• Stand at the side of a chair with your left hand holding the chair for balance. Grab your right foot with your right hand (or grab your pant leg if you cannot reach your foot). Using your hand, pull your foot toward your buttocks and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Your knee should be pointing downward, not out to the side. Repeat two to three times with each leg. To work on improving your balance, try removing your hand from the chair, little by little, as you hold the stretch.
• Sit back and place your hands under your right thigh. Pull knee toward chest then extend the leg straight in front of you as far as you can. Repeat with your other leg. Do three to five times with each leg.

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Source: http://uclivingwell.ucop.edu/deskercise/welcome.html