What works best...

What works best...

Skipping a workout need not send you on a guilt trip as Dr Satyen Mehta suggests some easy stretches that can be done at your desk to help you stay healthy and active

People from all walks of life have realised that exercise plays a significant role in maintaining good health. A regular exercise regime often leads to a healthy and longer life. This is one primary reason why young adults, health enthusiasts and people who wish to lead a healthy life engage in different forms of exercises.

There are some who like working out in the gym, while others may opt for yoga or Zumba. There are other different forms of activities such as swimming, gymnastics, running, etc, which can be included in our daily routine. But what if we skip our workout and then regret it? One need not feel guilty as desk workouts can help us stretch to improve our posture.

Here are a few desk exercises which can be done at the workplace to improve our posture:

To stretch hips & glutes

Sit with your lower back in neutral position, which means neither slumped backward nor forward. Make sure that you relax your shoulders and upper back. Then lift your left knee and place your hands either on the front or back of the knee.

Gently move your knee towards your chest so as to hug your knee. Sit in this posture for about seven seconds and then return to the original position. Repeat the same for the right side and thrice on each side. This exercise helps to release tension in the hip and glutes.

To stretch shoulders

Take your left shoulder across your chest and support it with your right hand such that it appears like a plus sign. Make sure that you feel a stretch on your shoulder as well as the back of the upper arm. In order to build a comfortable stretch you must pull your elbow towards your chest.

Remember to hold the last stretch for about seven seconds, and also repeat the exercise on the other side. Repeat this exercise thrice on each side. This exercise helps in freeing the shoulders.

To stretch hamstrings

Sit on the front edge of your chair. Extend your right leg out in front of you and sit in a neutral position. Remember to inhale and exhale but while exhaling, tilt forward from your hips. Note that while doing this, you feel the stretch in your lower and upper leg. While you lean forward, make sure that you have a flat back. In order to support your lower back, place your hands on the opposite knee. Hold the final stretch for seven seconds and do not bounce while releasing. Follow the same process for the left side and repeat this thrice. This exercise helps you to stretch your calf muscles and hamstring.

To lengthen upper body

Sit with your lower back supported in your chair. Take a deep breath and link your hands together. Gradually, exhale and raise your hands towards the ceiling. Raise your hands in such a way that you feel that your hands are growing longer until they reach above your head. In the process of stretching, restrict your lower back to arch forward. Repeat the same process gradually and hold for seven seconds. Repeat this exercise thrice so that your shoulder blades release all the pressure. This exercise also helps you to lengthen the upper back and neck.

To stretch the spine

If you have pain in your spine, then this is the best exercise for you. This exercise helps you to gently stretch your entire spine. In a seated position, place your hands on your opposite shoulders such that it forms a cross over your chest. Start turning your head in such a manner that you happen to look over your right shoulder.

To breathe easy

Sit on the front edge of your chair with your spine in a neutral position. Place your feet flat on the floor wide apart. Make sure that your knees are not flexed above 90 degrees and your hips are not lower than your knees. Inhale and exhale slowly, and simultaneously roll your spine in such a way that when your hands drop down they touch the floor. Relax in this posture for about seven seconds. Remember not to bounce while returning back to your original position. You can repeat this thrice.

To release tension in spine

This exercise is best suited to release spinal tension. Take a deep breath in and turn your head towards the right side. Breathe out when you feel the stretch. Hold your breath for 5-7 seconds. Inhale and return to your initial position. Then inhale and turn your head towards the left side and breathe out once you feel the stretch. Repeat this three times. Besides, you can also take a short break and go for a walk. Most of these exercises help release the stress in mind and body.

(The author is consultant at HEAL Institute)