With the cold weather and less sunlight that characterize the winter months, many of us find it difficult to continue with our warm weather exercise routines. Most of us will find we spend a lot more time sitting, whether it's at work or doing other indoor activities. However, we all know continued activity is best no matter what the weather. One of the ways you can combat sluggishness is through stretching. With just a little ffort, you can do these stretches at your desk and enjoy their energizing benefits.
Forward Bend – eases tension in upper back and neck.
Breathe in and as you bend forward breathe out and let your head and arms hang over your knees. Relax into the position and hold for a few seconds while breathing normally. Breathe in as you slowly come back up to seated position.
Side Stretch – increases the flexibility of the spinal column, improves respiration, and reduces waistline.
Sit facing forward with feet slightly apart, breathe in, and raise your arms out to the sides, at shoulder height. Breathe out and bend to the left, reaching toward the floor with your left hand and your right hand pointing toward the ceiling. Breathe in come back to starting position. Repeat with your right side.
Knee Squeeze – relaxes lower back, improves digestion and respiration.
Breathe out completely then breathe in. With both hands around the front of your knee, pull your knee to your chest, while holding your breath. Lower your head to your knee hold for a few seconds and release slowly while breathing out. Repeat with your right side.
Leg Lifts – strengthen legs and lower back and improves circulation to your legs and feet.
Sit and hold each side of the chair for balance. Breathe out and breathe in as you lift your straightened left leg and flex your foot. Hold for a few seconds and then slowly breathe out while lowering your leg. Repeat the same for your right leg.
Standing to stretch – increases circulation and releases tension in the neck, back, shoulders, and hips.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Breathe at a normal rate. Shrug shoulders up and down, repeating five times. Roll shoulders forward and then back five times. Rotate neck slowly five times clockwise and then five times counter clockwise. Raise arms overhead and reach up, alternating stretching left and right sides. Keeping arms above head, alternate leaning left then right, five times each side. Bend over, reaching to touch toes. Hold the stretch for a count of five. Return to standing and take five deep breaths.
Try repeating this brief routine once an hour, especially if you don't have the opportunity to get up and walk around. Not only will you clear your head for a few moments but you will also improve respiration, circulation, and performance. Your body (and your work) will thank you!