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Long hours of sitting jobs can have a toll on your body physically and mentally. The body pains especially in neck and back after long hours of sitting can lead to low concentration levels at work. The pooling of blood in your legs due to long hours of sitting may lead to discomfort and eventually varicose veins. Here I am presenting some quick stretches and strengthening exercises which will not only break the build-up of stress in your body but also improve your concentration by improving GABA levels in your brain. (GABA refers to Gamma-AminoButyric Acid, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that has calming effect on brain).
STEP 1: Deep breathing with 4 counts inhalation and eight counts exhalation. Deep, slow and rhythmic breathing calms down the nervous system, thus relaxing your mind and body and improving concentration level.
STEP 2: Neck smiley movements. Start with your neck tall and chin parallel to the floor. Take your chin to chest, then rotate your neck moving chin towards left shoulder. Next get your chin back to chest position rotating it to the right shoulder and back to start position. This exercise helps to release tension in neck, relieves muscle spasms by stretching neck muscles, improves neck flexibility and alleviates headaches.
STEP 3: Shoulder forward and backward rotations. This movement helps to open hunched shoulders and chest, releases shoulder and neck tension and frees up breathing. Stand tall with chin parallel to the floor and shoulders facing forward. Take your shoulders forward. Start rotating the shoulders taking them up and behind. Get your shoulder-blades together as you move the shoulders behind. Get shoulders back to the start position. Repeat in the reverse direction.
STEP 4: Forward arm stretch. Take your arm across the chest at shoulder level and give a push towards the chest with other hand. Hold it for 30 counts and repeat on the other side.
This stretch opens up shoulder joint and upper back, releasing the tension there, stretches arm muscles and improve breathing.
STEP 5: Upward arm stretch. Raise your arm up and bend at the elbow, taking your hand to spine. Now with the other hand give a gentle pull at the elbow with other hand. Hold this for 30 counts and then repeat on the other side. This stretch helps to release shoulder, arm and upper back tension and lengthens the intercostal muscles.
STEP 6: Wrist extension. Grasp the edge of the table with your hands, keeping the elbow straight, with your fingers facing down and palm away from you. Feel the stretch on the front side of your arm and forearms. Hold the stretch for 5 counts and relax. This exercise stretches your arm and forearm flexors and helps to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.
STEP 7: Desk cat and camel stretches. Sit on the chair with hands on the desk and navel tucked in by 2 inches. Arch your back, stretching away from the desk, opening up your chest in front, extending your neck and taking the chin upwards as you inhale (cat position). Next pull your abdomen in, making a hump in the back, bending towards the desk, taking the chin towards the chest as you exhale (camel position). This exercise improves spine flexibility, opens the chest freeing up breathing and stretches back muscles relaxing the back.
STEP 8: Leg raises. Sitting on the chair raise your lower leg to the thigh level with your foot pulled towards you. Wiggle your toes in this position. Repeat on the other side. This exercise strengthens the quadriceps and stretches the calf muscles. It prevents pooling of blood in the lower limbs (helping to prevent varicose veins) and improves knee health.
These were a few quick tips to maintain your physical and mental health in confines of your work cubicles. For more exercises with illustrations, you should refer to my book, Fitness Sutra - Exercises With Deep Breathing For Sedentary Lifestyle.
About the author:
Dr. Monika Chopra is a senior physiotherapist from Baner Medical Association. With 15 years of experience in treating chronic pains using innovative techniques, she practices at Dr Chopra’s Health & Wellness Clinic on Baner Road. She is also a bestselling author of Fitness Sutra series of books.
You can also reach out to her team on
Website:http://drchopras.com/ Call: 96045 18452 Address:#33, Prachi Residency, Baner Road, Pune