Stretch at your office desk

If you have a desk job, you know it is easy to spend six or more hours sitting per workday – and yes, your commute counts as sitting time.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a sedentary lifestyle can lead to poor health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and death from those or other causes.
Carving out time for exercise and movement is the best defence against sitting’s negative impacts. While not everyone can squeeze in a midday exercise class, the WHO says any physical activity is better than none.
Walking around the office every 45 minutes to an hour will help decrease strain on your body and benefit your health. Regular stretching is fast, gentle and can also lessen the risks of sitting. 
We have compiled several stretches you can do at your desk on a regular basis. Your body will thank you! 
Note: None of these stretches should cause you pain. If they do, please stop or don’t go as far. You should feel a stretch but no pain.

Desk stretches

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Shoulder stretch
  • Gently pull your elbow across your chest toward your opposite shoulder. 
  • Hold the stretch for five to 10 seconds. 
  • Relax and repeat with your other arm.
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Hamstrings stretch 
  • While sitting, straighten your legs and fold your body towards your toes. 
  • Make sure to keep your back straight. 
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat three to five times. 
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Standing side bend 
  • Stand comfortably and place one hand at your side.
  • Raise one arm overhead and bend your body toward one side. 
  • Hold the stretch for 15 to 25 seconds. 
  • Repeat on the other side. 
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Shoulder blade pinch 
  • Place arms behind head being careful not to press hand into head.
  • Relax shoulders, and squeeze shoulder blades together while keeping shoulders back and down.
  • Hold for five to 10 seconds. 
  • Repeat two to three times.

More head and shoulder stretches

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1. Side bend 
  • Gradually let your head fall sideways, bringing your ear toward your shoulder until you feel a stretch in the opposite side of your neck. 
  • Hold the stretch for five seconds, then slowly raise your head back up. 
  • Complete five sets on each side. 
2. Right-to-left rotation 
  • Gradually turn your head to one side until you feel a stretch in the sides of your neck. 
  • Hold the stretch for five seconds.
  • Slowly turn your head back until you’re facing the front again.
  • Complete five sets on both the left and right. 
3. Shoulder shrug 
  • Keeping your chin up, face forward with your neck straight. 
  • While you inhale, bring your shoulders as high up toward your ears as you can. Do the movement slowly so you feel the resistance of your muscles.
  • Hold the stretch for five seconds. 
  • Lower your shoulders back down and breathe out before repeating the movement. 
  • Repeat three times. 
4. Back-and-forth bend 
  • Slowly tilt your head backward until you feel a stretch in the front of your neck. 
  • Hold the stretch for five seconds, then slowly raise your head back up. 
  • Slowly lower your chin until it touches your chest, or you feel a stretch in the back of your neck. 
  • Hold for five more seconds, then slowly raise your head back up. 
  • Repeat three times. 
5. Neck roll 
  • Relax and lean your head forward.
  • Slowly roll toward one side and hold for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat on other side.
  • Relax again and lift your chin back to the starting position.
  • Repeat three times in each direction. 

Learn More 

Sometimes stretching isn’t enough. Talk to your doctor if you continue to experience physical pain or discomfort while at work.  
For more great tips on how to lead a healthier lifestyle, register for a health workshop provided by Alberta PCNs.  

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