By Kristen Lotze
“Sitting is the new smoking” – at least that’s what recent research would suggest. Many medical experts believe that sitting at a desk for prolonged periods has as much of a detrimental effect on your organs and overall health as smoking cigarettes. Who knew sitting could be so harmful?
The good news is, there are ways to prevent these damaging effects from wreaking more havoc – they’re effective and painless! Exercise-science major Toby Scott offers a list of five stretches that can be performed at your desk or in your office to help loosen muscles, reduce stress levels and generally improve health:
1. Knee hug
Areas stretched: glutes and hamstrings.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, grab right knee and bring up to chest and “hug.” Hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat with left knee. This can be made easier by staying seated and performing the stretch.
2. Hamstring wall stretch
Areas stretched: hamstrings and glutes.
Can be performed against a wall, or with help of a chair. Lift right leg and touch wall, or rest leg on seat of chair, until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat with left leg.
3. Side reach
Areas stretched: abdominal obliques and latissimus dorsi (back and side muscles).
Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart and bend to the side at the hip, reaching your opposing arm up, until you feel a stretch along your side muscles. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
4. Trunk rotation
Area stretched: lower back.
Stand and twist your upper body only (leave lower body straight) to the left until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the right side. Stretch can also be “active” by rotating back and forth, in a smooth motion, five times on each side.
5. Wall pectoral stretch
Areas stretched: Shoulder/neck/chest.
This stretch is good for counteracting the effects of sitting as well as typing/computer use. Start by standing parallel to a wall, far enough away that your right arm has to almost fully extend to touch the wall. Stabilize your hand on the wall, and rotate the rest of your body to the left until you feel the stretch in your chest, shoulder and neck muscles. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat the process on the left side.
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