How to do stretching exercises while sitting at your computer

One of the most common occupational hazards for today’s office workers is eyestrain and recurring backaches because of poor postures. No doubt, considering that people are glued to their computers banging at their keyboards for about 10 hours a day this is bound to happen. Well, if your job profile matches the one mentioned above or if you have been experiencing recurring postural problems, it’s time you follow these simple steps to keep your health in check.

Time required: 10 – 15 minutes


Arm Exercise

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Keeping your elbow directly before you, touch your hands to the shoulders. This done, now stretch the hands in front of you and then pull them back towards your shoulder. While doing this, constantly keep your elbows straight and parallel. Repeat this for about 5-10 times.

Chest Squeeze

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As if in the motion of hugging someone, open your arms wide and then rotate your wrists externally with the thumbs going up and back. Keep pulling your shoulders backward simultaneously. This exercise is particularly recommended for those with a tendency to hunch before the computer as it moves the body in the opposite direction than the hunch. It also provides a good stretch to the upper chest portion.

Shoulders Exercise

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A good exercise for relieving tension across your shoulders, this exercise involves bracing your hands on the edge of your office desk almost at a shoulder width from the body. Then twist your hands in such a way that they lean forward and point towards your body, thereby hunching your shoulders. After this, push your elbows and shoulders nearer to the desk and then roll your shoulders forward and backward, 10 times each.


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Contract your gluteal and abdominal muscles and hold them for a few seconds before releasing them. Repeating this exercise throughout the day every few minutes is very beneficial for the abdominal muscles. If possible, try to do Kegel while you are seated.

Wrist/Ankle twirl

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This useful exercise is known to benefit the wrists and ankles. It involves moving your hands and feet about the wrists and ankles respectively in a circular direction slowly and smoothly. Then repeat the same motion in the opposite direction an equal number of times too. For those continuously hammering at the keyboards, it is beneficial to roll the wrists about 10 times in the clockwise and anticlockwise directions every hour or so. This can help prevent the onset of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Neck Exercise

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Flexing the neck forward and backward, side-to-side and looking right and left is a good stretching exercise for the neck. Another good exercise is rolling the shoulders forward and backward about 10 times. This can be done anytime of the day as it helps relieve tension and strain. However, take care never to roll your head around your neck as doing this can damage the neck joints.

Quick Tips
• Keep the back rest of your chair at an angle wider than 90 degree
• Do not focus on your computer screen for a long time. This is detrimental to the health of your eyes. Take frequent breaks from gazing at the monitor and make it a point to focus on anything that is a further distance away. For those who need to gaze at the screen for longer periods, follow the “20-20-20” rule – viz. for every 20 minutes spent focused on the screen; spend 20 seconds looking at something that is about 20 feet away. Also if possible, purchase a LCD screen – it is good for ocular health.
• Do not sit still. Fidget as much as you can.
• Drink as much water as possible.
• If alone, shut off the computer for some time and exercise a bit. If attending a call on your cell, continue on it but also get up from the desk and do stretches or leg lifts.
• As you stay seated, clasp you hands with the palms facing each other and pull one hand by pushing with the other. In short, do any such exercise that combines opposing muscle groups.
• For those who love jogging, sit on the floor and stretch as you use your computer.
• Play your favorite music as you work. This not just relieves stress but also provokes bodily movement.
• If possible while working at your desk, sit on a balance ball. Making an effort to keep the body stabilized helps burn calories.
• Perform Kegel exercises when in front of the computer.

Things to watch out for
• It is important to note that these exercises are not enough for your body. You need to exercise more than what is mentioned above. The above-mentioned exercises can only help contribute towards a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
• Do not be over-enthusiastic while you perform these exercises as some can cause you to sweat and this would definitely not be a pleasant sight at work. Do these exercises in absolute moderation.
• Incorrect postural habits before the computer when combined with long-term stationary sitting can cause Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD) or Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI).
• Try to stay unaffected by the flurry of jokes that may be directed at you when your co-workers observe an increase in activity at your cubicle. Just laugh it off. Who knows later on seeing an increase in your well being, they too might join in!

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