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Sitting too Much Working from Home?
Deskercise!

Working from home has many millions of people working in tighter, more cramped and less ergonomically friendly quarters. When more people worked in large office spaces, they would stretch their bodies frequently by walking further to use a rest room, visiting a cafeteria for lunch, or going out to grab a bite to eat.

Remote work has taken desk work to an even more confining level. For those who can't break away for a run or a gym workout during the day, what can you do to loosen your limbs, prevent poor posture, and stave off aches and pains? We turned to sports and performance psychology Ph.D. Dr. Haley Perlus for tips on how to "deskercise."

Dr. Perlus' Top Tips to Help
Your De-Stress at Your Desk

The three o'clock slump might have you reaching for a cup of coffee or sugary snack to re-focus. According to Haley, "desk workers should take short stretch breaks at least once an hour. Taking frequent, shorter breaks that allow you to regularly relax and stretch is more effective than taking a few longer breaks." Haley also notes that if the majority of your time is spent typing on a computer, you should aim to take a five-minute break for every 30 minutes spent on the computer.

Have You Taken a Stretch Break Today?

1. Neck and Shoulder Stretches

• Roll your chair away from your desk. Starting with your head facing forward, using your hand, gently stretch your head and neck to the left and right

• Practice this simple de-stressing technique: take a deep breath and shrug your shoulders as high as you can, and gently lower them, while breathing out deeply

2. Hand and Forearm Stretches

• Continuous typing can lead to stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Help reduce the chances of an injury by giving your hands and fingers a break.

• Roll back from your desk and allow your hands to fall to your sides. Roll your wrists in a clockwise and counter-clockwise direction. Shake them out to relieve any tension

• Stretch your forearms by flexing your palms towards your arms, gently increasing the stretch with your other hand. Then extend your palm away from your arm, using your other hand to stretch the top of your hand towards your forearm. You should feel a stretch throughout the underside of your arm

3. Back Stretches

• Sitting for long periods at a time is unnatural and can create pressure, especially in the lower back region. Haley recommends standing and walking as often as possible

• When standing, do a simple back stretch by bending at the waist and letting your arms lower towards the ground. Try to release all tension in your back and slowly "roll up," one vertebra at a time

• If you don't have a back injury, work on improving your range of motion by doing gentle torso twists, and rotating your trunk several times to help "loosen up."

4. Leg Stretches

• Sitting for long periods of time also cause blood to pool in your lower legs. Haley says getting moving, even walking around the block, can help improve circulation and "wake up" tired legs

• Simple leg stretches such as calf raises, quad stretches, and hamstring stretches can all be done in the comfort of your cubicle or desk area

• If you feel yourself getting drowsy at your desk, a neat trick you can try are leg lifts: from a sitting position, raise your foot 3-4 inches off the ground and hold it. You will start to feel a burn – keep going until your muscle gives out, repeat on the other side

5. Stop & Smell the Roses! (General Relaxation)

• Everyone needs a moment to "get away" from it all. Allow yourself to sit quietly in a break room or outdoors and let your mind wander

• Music can be soothing and help relieve stress during tense situations. Find your favorite song and let yourself smile – you will be surprised how much stress can be relieved simply by smiling or laughing!

Group Fitness: Fitter Together

Many companies are now encouraging their employees to "get fit together" through group fitness programs. According to Haley, "with the right leader and many motivated individuals, group fitness can be a terrific way to reach your fitness goals without boring and tedious solo workouts."

Haley has helped many work groups organize their own fitness programs to fit their goals: weight loss, athletic training or just overall wellness. Studies have also shown that working out in a group makes you feel good, too.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Haley Perlus works with individuals and teams to manage and expand their energy capacity while increasing resilience, focus and drive. Dr. Perlus is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, professor, author and consultant to Division I athletes. For more information on individual and corporate training (live and virtual), visit www.drhaleyperlus.com.

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