Habit #1: Sitting for too long

Last week I introduced 3 office habits that could be holding you back from reaching your goals. Today, we’ll dive into Habit #1: Sitting for too long. As I mentioned in the intro blog article, current recommendations suggest that you get up and move for 3 minutes for every 30 minutes you spend seated. What should you do during those 3 minutes that you’re up? Anything you want! As long as you’re moving. You could take a walk to the restroom, get up to refill your water, or take a stroll around the office. If you find that you feel like your body is “stuck” after spending some time at your desk, here are 3 stretches and 3 simple strength exercises that you can do right at your desk without any special equipment:


  1. Standing calf stretch

Stand facing the wall with one foot in front and the other leg extended behind you. Keep both toes facing straight ahead toward the wall as you perform the stretch. Bend your front knee and keep your back leg straight as you squeeze the quad and glute and press the back heel down into the ground. You should feel the stretch in the calf of your back leg. Make sure you’re standing up tall with good posture while you stretch. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.

  1. Standing hip flexor stretch

Stand in a staggered stance (like a shallow lunge with the back leg straight) with your front knee bent and your back leg straight with the back foot turned out slightly. Place your hands on your hips, tuck your hips under, and squeeze the glutes hard. You should feel the hip flexors open up on your back leg (keep that leg nice and straight to be sure you feel the stretch!). If you need more of a stretch, reach the arm up on the same side high up toward the sky to deepen the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.

  1. Standing chest stretch

Find a doorway for this one. Place your hand and forearm against the door frame so that your elbow is straight out from your shoulder. Slowly step forward through the doorway to feel the stretch across your chest. Stand up nice and tall and look straight ahead to keep your body in proper alignment. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.

Strength Exercises:

  1. Chair squats

***Caution: If you have a rolling chair, you might want to put your chair against a wall so it won’t roll away while doing this exercise. Also, you can always keep your hands lightly rested on the arms of the chair so that you feel safe.***

Stand in front of your chair with your feet hip width apart and your toes pointed straight ahead. Slowly lower yourself down into your chair while keeping your chest lifted (no leaning forward too far!). When your booty touches your seat, stand right back up, squeezing your glutes as you stand all the way upright. Imagine that your seat is hot, so you don’t want to sit on it all the way while doing this exercise. Perform 5-15 squats (depending on time and leg strength- 5 is far better than zero!).

  1. Desk push ups

Make sure you’ve got a nice and sturdy desk for this one! If not, a wall works great! Place both hands on your desk about shoulder width apart, with your hands underneath your shoulders. This should look like you are doing a plank on your desk. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your chest down toward the edge of the desk until your chest is even with your elbows. At this point, your elbows should be pointed out at a 45-degree angle away from your body (not straight out to the side, or directly next to your torso; somewhere in-between!). Brace your abs and exhale as you push away from your desk back to the starting position. Perform 5-15 reps.

  1. External rotation

Pin your elbows next to your rib cage with your elbows bent at 90-degrees and your palms facing up in front of you. This position is similar to holding a casserole dish. Keep your elbows against your sides as you pull your hands apart while squeezing your shoulder blades together in the back. Imagine that you are trying to pinch a pencil between your shoulder blades while keeping your elbows glued to your body. You should feel those mid-upper back muscles working and a comfortable stretch in the shoulders. This is a great posture exercise for your work day! Hold that squeeze for 2-5 seconds and perform 5-15 of these.

It’s your turn: apply these tips now!

Now that you know what to do during your 3 minute sitting breaks, here are some simple ways to apply these techniques:

  1. Set a timer or change your FitBit settings to alert you when it’s time to take a movement break.
  2. Print out this article so that you have easy access to all of the exercises and stretches listed.
  3. Make a plan to pick 1-3 of the stretches or exercises per break. One example would be to do stretching on the odd number breaks (numbers 1, 3, 5, and so on), and do strength exercises on the even number breaks (numbers 2, 4, 6, and so on).
  4. Share the movement: Get a co-worker or friend in another office involved! It’s more fun when you have other people to share the experience with.

Stay Tuned: Next week, we’ll talk about Habit #2: Easy-access snacks. I’ll share some ideas for healthy snacks you can stash in your office or your bag to help you avoid the other tempting treats lurking in the office.

Now, give these stretches and exercises a try this week and let us know how it goes! We’d love to hear about which ones you like best!