The Benefits of Workplace Exercise Breaks
Workplace exercise breaks may be the answer to your stiff joint problems at work. Sitting still at a desk for long periods of time or repeating the same tasks over and over can take a toll on your muscles and make you lethargic.
But setting aside just a few minutes every couple hours to exercise and stretch can ease your aches. Regular workplace exercise breaks can:
- Relieve pain and stiffness
- Re-energize and relax you
- Improve circulation
- Strengthen your muscles and joints
All of those benefits add up to greater productivity on your part. The better your body feels, the more comfortable and productive you’ll be on the job.
If you think you don’t have time in your workday to stop and exercise, think again. You don’t have to get up and run a mile or go to the gym to get the benefits of workplace exercise. You can exercise right at your desk or in your cubicle with low impact stretching and massaging.
Kick off your workplace exercise break by choosing a few simple stretching exercises.
Facial Exercises for Sore Eyes and Head
- Relieve sore eyes by increasing blood flow and strengthening the eye muscles. With your eyes open, roll them around in wide, clockwise circles 15 to 20 times. Start rolling slowly, then build up to a faster pace. Repeat the exercise 3 times a day to ward off tired eyes.
- Cure a headache and ease stress with a head massage derived from Chinese medicine. Place your hands on top of your head and use the tips of your fingers to press down on your scalp. Rub your scalp from the midline down to the side and from front to back.
Workplace Exercises for a Stiff Neck and Back
Neck pain exercise can ease the muscle strain that is common among office workers. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, workers develop neck pain because of a few bad habits: looking down at their desks for extended periods of time, cradling a phone between the neck and shoulder, and holding too much tension in muscles as they work.
If you sit at a desk and click your mouse or type all day long, you are risk of developing neck pain. This activity creates tension in the neck and shoulders by forcing us to raise our arms to reach keyboards and mousepads for extended periods of time.
- Loosen up your neck by stimulating the cervical vertebrae in your neck. Do neck twists, starting with your head facing straight forward and your back straight. Breathe in slowly through your nose. Exhale, turning your head as far left as you can comfortably stretch it. Hold the position for a few seconds. Breathe in again, and exhale as you turn your head to the other side. Repeat hold on the right side. Repeat on both sides, trying to stretch your neck a bit further each time you stretch.
- Relieve a sore back and increase blood flow to your torso with back twists. Stand with your back straight, knees slightly bent, and arms hanging relaxed at your sides. Keep your toes facing forward and firmly planted as you twist over your left shoulder to face the back. Keep your arms relaxed and let them move naturally as you twist in the other direction. Continue twisting and gradually build up speed. Do 15 to 20 twists per side. When you finish, slow down gradually.
Isometric Neck Pain Exercise
Before you start neck pain exercise to alleviate your work-related muscle tension, consult your doctor. If you have experienced neck pain for an extended amount of time, you may have another condition besides simple neck pain.
To alleviate your neck pain at work, follow these simple isometric neck pain exercises that you can do without leaving your desk. Isometric exercise refers to exercises that involve a static contraction of muscles versus big motions.
Each of the following neck pain exercises will help you strengthen your neck muscles. Over time, you can increase the amount of force your use and the number of reps:
- Place your palms on your forehead. Press your head into your hands, but resist moving the head. Hold for five seconds.
- Press your palm to your cheek. Look straight ahead and try to slide your head over to meet your shoulder, but resist actually moving. Hold for five seconds. Repeat on both sides of the head.
- Interlock your fingers and cup the back of your head with your hands. Attempt to push your head back, resisting movement. Hold for five seconds.
- Place your left palm on your left temple. Attempt to turn your chin towards your left shoulder, but resist the motion. Hold for five seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Exercises for a Stiff Lower Body
- Stretch and strengthen your legs, glutes, and pelvis with a thigh exercise derived from Chinese martial arts. Start by standing with your feet spread wider than your shoulders and toes turned outwards. Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Keep your back straight and rest your hands on your things. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds and breathe slowly. Try to do the exercise 4 times.
- Work your legs, ankles, and lower back with a forward lunge. Start by standing with your feet parallel and close together. Put your hands on your hips and take a big step forward with your right foot. Lower your body slowly until your right thigh is parallel with the ground, keeping your knee over your ankle. Your left leg should be behind you on its toes. Use your legs to push your body back up to standing. Repeat on the other leg for 10 to 12 reps.
Get Into Good Habits
While these exercises are one option to alleviate work-related pain, there are other precautions you can take to avoid developing muscle strain in the first place:
- Maintain proper posture when you sit at your desk. Support your lower back with a pillow if your chair does not provide proper support.
- Avoid sitting in the same position for an extended amount of time.
- Do some gentle stretches at your desk.
- Stand up and move a few times per hour. https://www.brighthub.com/health/fitness/articles/30437.aspx
- Make sure your computer monitor is at eye-level.
- If you spend a lot of time on the phone, get a head set. Avoid holding the phone between your cheek and shoulder.
Regular exercise has also been shown to alleviate neck and shoulder pain associated with repetitive motion. High intensity training with weights three times a week can increase both strength and flexibility in the neck.
With regular strength training including exercises like lateral raises and shoulder shrugs, you can expect to strengthen muscles that usually give way to poor posture while increasing the rotation of your neck.