Five simple stretches, 10 minutes a day

The busier you are at work, the more likely it is you’ll neglect your health and well-being. Whether you work indoors or outdoors, remaining stationary for too long can lead to discomfort and injury.

Stretching is a good way to improve your flexibility and muscle soreness. Concentrate on slow, sustained stretches and hold each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds.

If you’re receiving treatment, have an injury or have any questions, you should check with your doctor or health professional before starting these exercises.

Here are five simple stretches that can be done in just 10 minutes a day.

Stretch 1
  1. Interlace fingers and turn palms upward above head.
  2. Straighten arms then slowly and gently lean from side to side.
Stretch 2
  1. Stand up.
  2. Place both hands on lower back.
  3. Gently arch back and hold for 15 seconds (don’t throw your head back).
  4. Repeat three times.
Stretch 3
  1. Stand upright, back straight.
  2. Interlace your hands behind your back.
  3. Gently raise your hands (palms in) towards the ceiling until you feel a gentle stretch.
  4. Hold for 15 seconds then release.
  5. Repeat three times.
Stretch 4
  1. Raise the head to straighten the neck.
  2. Gently tuck the chin in creating a double chin and hold for 5 seconds (do not look up or down).
  3. Release to the starting position and don’t poke chin forward.
  4. Place your hand over your chin for guidance if required.
  5. Repeat three times.
Stretch 5
  1. Straighten your arm.
  2. Holding your fingers, gently bend wrist up until you feel a stretch in the forearm.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds then release.
  4. Holding your fingers, gently bend wrist down until you feel a stretch in the forearm.
  5. Hold for 15 seconds then release.
  6. Repeat with other arm.

The Better Health Channel providers 10 tips for stretching safely and suggests you stretch for 10 minutes every day.

Sitting too much at work can be deadly

We all know that regular exercise is an important part of staying healthy, but studies show that it might not be enough to stave off many health issues if you spend most of your day sitting.

Research findings published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine reveal that spending too much time sitting down means a greater risk of premature death. While the results echo previous study findings, this new probe focused on women aged 50-79 years.

Harvard Women’s Health Watch executive editor, Stephanie Watson, observed that the more hours women spent sitting at work, driving or on the sofa watching TV, the greater their odds of dying early from all causes, including heart disease and cancer.

“And here’s the kicker; even women who exercised regularly risked shortening their lifespan if most of their daily hours were sedentary ones,” she wrote in the Harvard Health Blog.

Study co-author, Dr JoAnn Manson, explained that older women spending too much time sitting, but also doing moderate to vigorous exercise, still faced a higher risk of an earlier death.

Closer to home, a study conducted by Medibank Private demonstrates that prolonged sitting is just as much an issue in Australia as in the United States. Conducted on 131 members of Medibank’s staff, they found that a startling 77 per cent of time spent at work is sedentary.

Work isn’t the only factor at play, either, with the majority (62 per cent) of a non-work day also spent sedentary.

Clearly the study results sound warning bells, not just for mature women, but for people with deskbound jobs who spend too much leisure time in couch potato mode.

Here are some simple steps you can take to avoid sedentary behaviour at work:

  • Walk to colleagues to talk instead of phoning or emailing.
  • Take a short walk around the office every hour.
  • Walk around the neighbourhood at lunch instead of eating at your desk.
  • Use a bathroom/printer/kitchen/bin that is further away, forcing you to walk more.
  • Use the stairs instead of a lift.
  • Walk or ride to work if possible, or stand up on public transport.
  • Park further away from work than necessary.

For other tips on staying healthy at work visit the NSW Government’s Get Healthy at Work website.