Stay fit at your desk
Stay fit at your desk


Stay fit at your desk

/ September 8, 2016

There’s a growing body of research that says too much sitting is not only bad for your waistline, it’s also bad for your health. So the team at Macquarie’s Sport and Aquatic Centre have come up with some tips for exercising while sitting at your computer. 


Simple stretching exercises while sitting will help prevent you from feeling stiff.

  • Neck: To stretch your neck, slowly flex your head forward and backward, side to side and look right and left. This can be done almost any time to lessen tension and strain. Never roll your head around your neck––this could cause damage to the joints of the neck.
  • Shoulders: Roll your shoulders forward around 10 times, then backward. This helps release the tension from your shoulders.
  • Arms and shoulders: A good stretch for your arms and shoulders is to brace your hands on the edge your desk, each about a shoulder width away from your body. Twist your hands in so they point toward your body and lean forward, hunching your shoulders. Take this a step further and push your shoulders and elbows closer to the desk.
  • Wrists: Roll your wrists regularly, around every hour or so. Roll the wrists 10 times clockwise, then 10 times counter clockwise. This will help minimise the potential for getting carpal tunnel syndrome if you spend a lot of time typing.
  • Ankles: Roll your ankles regularly. As with your wrists, roll the ankles in a clockwise motion three times, then counter clockwise. This helps improve blood circulation, and prevents that tingling ‘pins and needles’ feeling you can get when blood circulation is cut off.
  • Chest: Notice if you tend to hunch in front of the keyboard. To counter that, perform the following exercise: Open your arms wide as if you were going to hug someone, rotate your wrists externally (thumbs going up and back) and pull your shoulders back. This stretch is moving your body the opposite way to being hunched and you should feel a good stretch across your upper chest.
  • Abdomen: Contract your abdominal and gluteal muscles, hold them there for a few seconds, then release. Repeat this every few minutes all day long while you’re working at your desk. You can also perform kegels (pelvic floor exercises) while sitting.
  • Calves:  While sitting, lift up your legs on the balls of your feet and set them down. Repeat until your legs are comfortably tired. Repeat about 10 minutes later, and continue doing this routine for about an hour or so. This will exercise your calves, and will help prevent blood clots from developing in your legs. Blood clots are very common among middle-aged computer users.

Other tips

Stand up every half hour to walk around a bit. This will ensure continuous blood circulation in your arms and legs, and will keep them from getting too strained. Take walks to the water station to refill your glass. If you can afford to take longer breaks, take a short walk outside your building, and use the stairs instead of the lift. Aside from giving your legs and heart a good workout, you can breathe some fresh air as well.

Focus as far as possible. To avoid eye strain while working at a computer, set up your monitor as far as possible. Otherwise, give your eyes often break by looking around at something distant to prevent irritation and short-sightedness.

Take advantage of the downtime created by rebooting or large file downloads. Get up and take short walks around your floor. If you can find the space to do it and do not have many co-workers around who would be bothered, try something more ambitious such as doing a few push-upssit-ups, and/or star jumps.

Take a few deep breaths. To work your abdominal muscles, hold your stomach for a few seconds when breathing in, then release when breathing out. If possible, get some fresh air in your lungs by taking a walk outside, as mentioned in a previous step.

Have a bottle of water by your side and make a habit of drinking plenty of water throughout the day. If you do this consistently, you will begin to feel more alert. Take trips to the water refilling station to refill your jug or glass, so that you can also walk around and exercise your legs at the same time.

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