Turns out that sitting in a chair staring at a computer all day is terrible for you.
According to a study by BMJ Open, reducing “excessive sitting” to under 3 hours a day would increase US life expectancy by 2 years. A doctor recently told the LA Times that “sitting is the new smoking.”
And if that doesn’t faze you, how about a March 2012 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine with 200,000 Australian people found that regardless of sex, age and weight, sitting puts you at a higher risk of death from all causes.
Unfortunately, unless you like standing at your desk like a Googler, you don’t really have much of an option. The number one way to mitigate all the above health risks? Take breaks! Especially a stretching break that gets your blood pumping and increases oxygenation throughout your body.
These stretches are brought to you by freelance fitness instructor Christina Buchanan, who was assisted by professional stretching model Peter Hilton (just kidding).
1. The "considering a quizzical topic" stretch
Ear to Shoulder neck stretch. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed. Right Lateral Flexion – Lower your right ear towards your right shoulder. Left Lateral Flexion – Lower your left ear towards your left shoulder.
2. The itchy back stretch
Raise your arm and place the palm of your hand down the center of your back with your elbow in the air. Place your other hand on your elbow and gently hold in place as you stretch your first arm. After 15-30 seconds, switch arms.
3. The neck hugger stretch
Stretch your posterior shoulder muscles. First, bring your right hand to your left shoulder with elbow lifted. Press into the Right Elbow.
Next, using your left palm, press into the right elbow stretching the shoulder. Hold for a few moments. Repeat with the arms in the opposite positions.
4. The proud stretcher stretch
Stand with your feet wide apart and knees straight. Bend the right knee out to the side and lean to the right. Hold 10 - 30 seconds. Do the other side.
5. The march step stretch
From a standing position, raise your right knee while bringing your leg toward your chest. Wrap one hand or both around your knee or shin as you pull your knee up. Be sure the standing leg is straight and engaged.
For stability, feel free to lean up against a wall. Squeeze your knee tight into your chest for 10-20 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.
6. The kick-yourself-in-the-butt stretch
Grasp or lift your ankle and gently pull your heel up and back towards your buttock until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Engage your core and keep your knees close together. Hold for about 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat. Have a chair or wall present in case of loss of balance.
7. The robin stretch
Stand up tall, lengthening through the spine. Lift your chest, and relax your shoulders. Look straight ahead, clasp your hands behind your back, and slowly raise arms as far as possible. Hold for 10–15 seconds, breathing naturally.
8. The win
Congratulate yourself on a successful stretching session.