Sitting at your desk for prolonged periods is not healthy. You are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers,…and a larger waist. So we’re advised to take frequent breaks, to stand up and stretch, or walk around for a few minutes.

Of course, there’s always the option of getting a treadmill desk or a standing desk. But if working while jogging sounds a bit much or you don’t want to chuck your chair altogether, here are a few exercises that you can do while seated at your desk. Although these are not terribly strenuous activities, it’s usually a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine.

1. Shoulder stretch – Many of us work in front of a screen all day long. Then we continue on Facebook and Twitter when we go home. Our shoulders suffer. My favorite and most rewarding exercises involves stretching the shoulders and neck.

Sitting straight up, place your fingers on your shoulders, elbows out to the side. Gently rotate your elbows as far back as you can. Then bring your elbows to the front until they touch. Repeat a few times.

2. Rotate your neck – Staring at a computer screen for hours on end is not good for the neck either. While seated at your desk, tilt your neck gently back and forward, and then rotate from side to side, never  forcing your neck with your hand. Do this regularly throughout the day. It works!

3. Wrist stretch – For this exercise, you’ll have to stand up, but it’s well worth the effort. Standing, with arms straight, place your knuckles on the desk with your fingers toward you. Slowly lower your body, bending at the knee. Don’t go too far, you’ll feel the stretch quickly. Hold for a few seconds and repeat throughout the day.

4. Swap your chair for an exercise ball – This requires a bit of commitment, even if for an hour or two per day.

The benefits of using an exercise ball as a chair are numerous. They include improving your circulation and balance, burning calories, and working your core.

I gave this a test run during my law firm days and would often use the ball as a guest chair during the times I wasn’t using it. The practice received mixed reactions. But many people swear by this for taking care of neck and shoulder stress related pain, but ease into it as other muscles, especially in your back will need time to adjust.

5. Leg, calf and ankle stretches – Extend your left leg all the way under the desk. Hold for a few seconds, then gently point the tip of your shoe towards your knee. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat with right leg.

With your leg stretched out in front of you at a 45 degree angle, rotate your ankle clockwise, then, slowly, counter-clockwise. Repeat with the other leg.

Any combination of these exercises will make your day at the desk more productive and less stressful. And remember to get up frequently, and maybe grab a cup of water, for a healthier you.

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