Don’t let your desk job kill you: Stretch to stay healthy

If you’re reading this while sitting behind your desk at work, there’s a good chance some not-so-great things are happening to your body right at this moment.

You + 85% of America’s workforce.

Desk work is a necessary evil for millions of Americans, but sitting doesn’t have to kill you — though experts say doing it for 8 hours a day most certainly can. Increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels, not to mention the strains you put on your neck, shoulder and back muscles, are all byproducts of working for a living behind a desk.

There are some simple ways you can get out in front of the danger and ensure you feel your best. Here are a few of the best tips we found for minimizing the stress on your body from working a desk job:

Set a timer

Get up every 45 minutes and walk around, they said. It’ll be easy to remember, they said. How many of you have this intention but your work, or meetings, or phone calls get in the way? Suddenly a busy three hours have gone by and you haven’t moved.

Setting a timer at your desk will help remind you to get up and move and make it a priority in your day. Take a 15-minute break and walk around the office, stretch, even stand in your workspace to work instead of siting. It will help your circulation, boost your energy and maybe even take your mind off of eating those cupcakes in the break room.


Google “desk stretches and there are a plethora of videos that offer great advice. Here are a few favorites:

  • Give yourself a big hug: Hug your body, placing the right hand on your left shoulder and the left hand on your right shoulder. Breathe in and out, releasing the area between your shoulder blades.
  • Reach high: Sit up tall in your chair, or stand up. Stretch your arms overhead and interlock your fingers. Turn the palms to the ceiling as you lift your chin up, tilt your head back, and gaze up at the ceiling. Inhale, exhale, release.
  • Shrug it off: This one helps release tension in your shoulders. Inhale deeply and shrug your shoulders, lifting them high up to your ears. Hold. Release and drop. Repeat three times. Note: Make sure when you’re in your normal resting position that your shoulders are lowered, shoulder blades back against your chair. Keeping your shoulders in a shrugged position all the time (which is easy to do when stressed) can create havoc on your neck and trap muscles.
  • Stand up and sit down several times in a row. This will get your blood pumping and even give your legs a workout.

Don’t eat at your desk

We know, if you work through lunch you might be able to get done for the day a little early. But what happens when you hit the wall at 2 p.m. because you’ve been staring at your computer for six hours and haven’t moved at all? You will be more productive and have more energy if you get away from your desk during the lunch hour. Make healthy food choices for your midday meal and maybe even take a short, brisk walk.

Have a favorite way you stretch and move at work? Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!