Wellbeing

3 Low Key Exercises Perfect For Work That You Can Do At Your Desk

Technology and work have become so closely correlated that it’s not unusual for us to be slogging away all day at a desk facing a screen. Deskwork itself might not be a new thing, but let’s face it: our parents and grandparents didn’t spend nearly the same amount of time that we spend hunched over various technological devices.

If you’re lucky you might have a work place that has a kicking HR department where you can stroll in and demand one of those swanky stand-up desks everyone’s been talking about. If not, then it’s important to be mindful of the harm sitting all day can do to your body.

But imagine if you could prevent some of that harm with a few simple exercises during your lunch break? I spoke with Melbourne-based Osteopath Dr Nicole Tuminello about a few exercises that we could be doing everyday to give a little something back to our poor bods. And you won’t even need to get out of your chair.

#1 Take some deep breaths

Why do it?

As slaves to our desk and devices most of us will ultimately slump throughout the day. Sitting for long periods causes the diaphragm muscle to become tight and short, which in turn can cause a cycle of shallow breathing. This can lead to poor return of blood back to the heart and less oxygen delivery to the cells of our body; a recipe for fatigue and stress which can effect your performance at work.

What’s the benefit?

Nicole recommends using the following breathing exercise as an excuse to stop what you’re doing, take a break and re-adjust your posture: “A simple readjustment such as this can help to open up through the diaphragm, which can optimise your breathing mechanics keeping your cells energised and you feeling fresher”.

What’s the move?

Sitting at your desk, move to the edge of your chair with your legs shoulder-width apart. Keeping your hands by your side, let your core muscles relax completely (aka “let your gut hang out”). Slowly take a deep breath, turn your pinkies toward you so that your palms are facing outward. As you breath in, draw your shoulders back and stick your chest upwards and outwards, or like Nicole puts it, “embrace your inner gorilla”. Hold for two seconds and then exhale turning your palms back to face your sides. “As you breathe in, inhale through your nose and allow your abdomen to fill with air. You should see your tummy bulge as you do this. The motion of turning your palms in and out will help to open up your chest and inhale”.

How many? Five to 10 deep breaths

How often? Two to three times a day


#2 Look after your neck

Why do it?

Tech neck – need we say more?

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Scrunching the shoulders and straining the neck.

What’s the move?

For this stretch, Nicole suggests that you sit on one hand, while placing the opposite hand over the top of your head with your palm resting gently on your ear. Sitting on your hand holds your shoulder down which helps to create a more effective stretch. Draw your ear down to your opposite shoulder, which should cause the muscles at the side of your neck to stretch nicely, all the while being careful not to cause yourself any pain.

To stretch the muscles towards the back of your neck, place your hand over the top of your head. Next adjust the direction of your chin by looking down toward your opposite armpit, then gently pull your head toward it. Perform both exercises on each side of your neck and repeat.

Hold for how long? 20 to 30 seconds

How often? Stretch twice. Two to three times a day


#3 Rock around the pelvic clock

Why do it?

This exercise should help with core activation, mobility and stability through your back.

What’s the move?

Sitting at your office chair, shift to the edge, sit up straight with your pelvis in a neutral position and place your hands on your hips. Make sure your legs are shoulder width apart and then imagine you’re sitting on a clock. “Imagine you need to move your pelvis to the number 12 on the clock, while keeping your back straight. Tilt your pelvis forward and slowly roll. Imagine you are moving the joints in your lower back one by one, and be sure not to shift your bottom on the chair, it should stay put, the pelvis should be the only thing moving”.

Next, tilt backwards to the number 6 on the imaginary clock. This one might be quite hard to do but the main aim is to use your core to drive your pelvic and lower back motion.

How many? Ten rock around the clocks

How often? Repeat twice. Two times a day

With all these stretches, Nicole recommends doing them slowly and to remember you should never be in any pain.

And with that, I’m sitting up a little straighter. Stretch away office pals.


Stefanie Italia is a writer and editor from Melbourne, Australia. She works in book publishing and has a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Publishing and Communications.