Many working people are sedentary partly because of the demands of their jobs, such as being stuck behind a desk all day. Unfortunately, being sedentary has detrimental effects on your health.

If you sit most of the time while you work you may experience lower back pain, shoulder pain, weight gain or obesity, neck pain, headaches, stress, carpal tunnel syndrome, and musculoskeletal disorders. Just to name a few!

The good news is that it’s not too late to establish good habits at your desk. With some exercises and stretches, you can counter the negative effects of being sedentary.

List of Exercises and Stretches You Can Do

Exercises and stretches can help improve flexibility, comfort level, muscular balance, risks of injury, and physical stress.

Here are some exercises and stretches for sedentary workers:

Stop Slouching with the Torso Stretch

How often do you catch yourself slouching? It happens even when you’re quite conscious of your posture. When you’re hunched often, you’ll start to feel pain in your lower back. Torso exercises will stretch and strengthen your back muscles, as well as the muscles on your sides and arms.

What to do:

  • Sit properly on a stable chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Raise your arms with your fingers laced together.
  • Stretched up your arms and upper body towards the ceiling.
  • Take a deep breath and hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • As you exhale, open your arms and bring them down to your sides slowly.
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times.

Make sure you do this exercise whenever you find yourself slouching. It will create a habit of good posture.

Relieve an Aching Back with the Spinal Twist

Another way to address your aching and stiff lower back is the spinal twist. It will help release the tension and loosen up the muscles in your back.

What to do:

  • Sit properly on a chair with your feet firmly on the ground.
  • Rest your left arm on the back of the chair, then twist your upper body in that direction.
  • Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds while breathing slowly.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times on each side.

Remember to be gentle with this stretch, and go only as far as you feel comfortable without pain.

Ease Stiff Neck and Shoulders with the Shoulder Shrug

Stiff shoulders and neck are common when you have a desk job that requires you to sit for hours on end, every day. Shoulder shrugs will stretch the muscles on your shoulder and the neck, loosening the tension and getting the blood flowing.

What to do:

  • Sit or stand straight and put your arms at your sides.
  • Lift your shoulders towards your ears while squeezing your muscles.
  • Hold the position for 2 seconds.
  • Roll your shoulders backward as you relax the muscles and bring your shoulders down.
  • Repeat 8 times.

Once you’ve completed this sequence, repeat the exercise with your shoulders rolling forward.

Boost Your Circulation and March on the Spot

Sitting for long hours hinders blood circulation, particularly in your lower body and legs. Marching on the spot is a simple exercise you can do anywhere. It targets your hip flexors and glutes.

What to do:

  • Walk as you would normally walk, but don’t move forward.
  • You can also raise your knees to make the march more energetic.
  • Walk in place for 3 to 5 minutes.

Marching in place is a low-impact cardio exercise that can also help improve your balance and core stability.

Wall Sits

If there’s a good way of sitting, it is to wall sit. Wall sits help strengthen your muscles in the lower body, including your quads, glutes, calves, and hamstrings. It improves your muscular endurance and stability.

What to do:

  • Stand against a wall and put your arms on your sides.
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Slide your back down the wall and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle.
  • Keep your thighs parallel to the floor.
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

Another benefit to wall sits is that this exercise can help tone your abdominal muscles.

Desk jobs can make you sedentary, but with proper exercise and stretches, you don’t have to suffer from all the negative health effects. Take a break from sitting and stretch your muscles, particularly your core and lower body muscles. There are many simple yet effective exercises you can do while sitting or standing in the office. Start with our list and integrate them into your day.