Fitness in the Home Office: 15 Tips for Those Who Sit

January 26, 2011 · 2 comments

This is a guest post by Lloyd Burrell.

More and more people work from home. If you do it’s likely you sit in front of a work at home desk the vast majority of the day with few breaks in between to stretch the legs, despite how important blood circulation and movement really are.

For those who sit extended lengths of time, here are a few tips to help keep from going numb and tingly.

Be conscious of Proper Posture. It is very easy to forget about keeping your shoulders back, but slumping is a recipe for a sore back and early fatigue. Make sure you retain a proper sitting position to avoid compressing the spinal vertebrae and possibly causing injury. You may need to adjust your computer to help with this, to keep from your neck. You should not be looking up and down, but straight ahead.

Trade Off Ears. Being on the phone all day will almost certainly make you feel like as though the continuous receiver pressing is giving you cauliflower ear, tension headaches, and sore shoulders. Switch off often so your ears get a break from being squished. Or you may wish to look into a hands-free headset that only hangs lightly on one ear.

Rearrange the Work Space. Now and then, you will want to moves things around on the desktop, so you don’t strain yourself by repetitive reaching, or give yourself a muscle imbalance by overextending.

Carpal Tunnel Prevention. Make it a point to frequently work your wrists in circles and flex your fingers by spreading them so as not to injure yourself with chronic strain.

Take Five. As you sit, your spine compresses and your blood may not circulate as efficiently as normal. Periodically, get up and move around for a few minutes, stretching and relieving pressure on your spine. Drink some water to get the blood pressure normalized if you find you feel faint upon standing.

Stretch it Out. Sitting all day is actually hard work and it takes a toll on your body, despite doing ‘nothing’. Your hips, shoulders, back, and neck may say differently, though, as holding a single position for extended times is actually quite a chore. Performing some simple exercises as often as possible will help beat fatigue and soreness from prolonged sitting.

Shrug the Shoulders. Sit upright and relax your shoulders. Take in several deep breaths and push your shoulders up toward your ears while squeezing. Keep that position tight for several seconds and exhale, relaxing as you do. Repeat several times.

Spinal Stretch. Sit upright and with correct posture in your chair. Clasp your hands behind your head, fully exhale, and twist slowly to one side. Look behind you as far as you can without causing discomfort. Hold this pose for a few seconds and inhale as you return to starting position. Repeat with the other side. Do this up to 3 times a day with reps of 10-20 each side.

Easing Neck Tension. Basically, this is a controlled head loll. Exhale as you drop your chin to your chest, and then inhale as you allow your right ear to lie on your right shoulder as best you can. Exhale and roll your chin back to your chest, then inhale as you roll your left ear towards your left shoulder. Exhale as you return to starting. Do this slowly and controlled for several minutes.

Stay Active. Use daily exercises that can be performed at your desk to keep you feeling refreshed and alert. These help a great deal with tension and soreness.

Deep Breathing. With your feet flat on the floor and back straight in good posture, and shoulders relaxed, inhale deeply four times, focusing on breathing from the belly and staying in a relaxed position.

Rotating Squat. Slowly and with control (you can use the desk to balance, if you need to), lower your body into a squatting position as you rotate your hips to one side. As you stand back up, push through your heels and feel one buttock tightening, activating your glutes. Slowly return to forward position and repeat on other side, up to 20 times.

Easing Back Tension. Push your chair back away from your desk, but close enough to keep both hands on the desktop if your arms are fully stretched. Exhaling, lower your head slowly while arching your back, cat-like. Hold this position for a few seconds, then take in a breath and raise your head and chest, pressing your chest open as you arch the opposite way. Do this several times with slow, controlled breathing.

Use Lunch Breaks for Large Motion. If you receive an hour for lunch break, take advantage of it by walking around the block or to a store, or bring your rollerblades and skate around a park. Whatever it is you can do, do it; the more activity you get during an inactive day, the better you will feel.

Keep Your Body Fueled. Drink plenty of fluids during the day to stay hydrated and alert, preferably water. This helps regulate blood pressure, too. Eat small meals during the day to keep from fatiguing. This means some nutritious snacks, not sugary donuts that can crash blood sugar. Choose fruit or nuts, cheese and whole wheat crackers, or fresh veggies and dip. Avoid refined flours or sugars that will spike your glycemic index and lead to fatigue. Hunger is very distracting, so stay fueled, but do it smartly; you’ll stay happy and your boss will be very happy with your efficiency.

Remember, work smarter, not harder and take care of yourself throughout the day.

Do you sit at a desk all day? What tips can you offer to stay fit in the home office?

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kathyj333 January 27, 2011 at 11:44 am

Great post. Since I work in an office, these tips will come in handy.

Patrick Kallie January 30, 2011 at 8:46 am

This is something that I had to learn the hard way! Now I get up at least every 15 minutes just to move around. I think that everyone should do this.

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