Nowadays, people are faced with a longer work day, which means less time to exercise and take care of ourselves.
Many times we come home, and instead of going out for a walk or visiting the gym, we plop ourselves on the couch and watch TV, or cement ourselves to the computer checking out what our friends are doing on Facebook.
“Our bodies were not designed to be sitting all of the time — we weren’t meant for that,” says Suzanne Janusz, a personal trainer at Destination Fitness in Johnsburg.
“If you take a look at our ancestors and how they spent their day [working on] farms, factories, it’s odd that we’re sitting in cubicles all day,” adds Jill Walters, owner of Destination Fitness. “One of the best things you can do is get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour.”
Because we lead more sedentary lives — both at work and at home — our necks and shoulders take quite a toll.
Sitting in front of the computer can lend itself to poor posture, as our shoulders tend to slouch and roll in, according to ergonomics professionals on office-ergo.com who work to design equipment that fit our bodies in workplace conditions.
The proper placement of your computer monitor, documents and devices — such as a mouse — determines your shoulder and neck posture considerably, professionals say. If your monitor is too high, not only can this cause considerable neck and shoulder strain, but it also can cause dry eyes.
The best thing you can do to avoid strain on the body is to move, Janusz says.
“Take a three-minute break every 30 minutes or so, be it just walking to the washroom or stretching,” she says.
“Even if you just get up and stay in your area to customize your chair, rearrange your work space or reposition your monitor, get out of the chair. To avoid eyestrain, your eyes should look directly at the top of the computer screen. And, your keyboard should be within arm’s length. Also, if you can do it, alternate hands when using the mouse.”
Listed below are some exercises developed by Destination Fitness:
Mouse Wrist — these exercises help avoid carpel tunnel syndrome from over use of the computer mouse.
• Extend arm in front, palm up and grab the fingers with the other hand. Gently pull the fingers toward you to stretch the forearm, holding for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
• Place hands together in front of chest, elbows bent and parallel to the floor. Gently bend wrists to the right and left for 10 repetitions.
Chair Back — this is used to stretch the lower back to avoid low back pain and piraformis issues from too much sitting.
• Sit tall and place the left arm behind the hip. Gently twist to the left using the right hand to deepen the stretch. Hold for 20 to 30 second and repeat on the other side.
Lower Body Exercises:
Hip Helpers — Sit tall with your abs held in and lift your left foot off the floor a few inches, knee bent. Hold for two seconds, lower and repeat for 16 repetitions. Repeat on other side.
Happy Legs — Sit tall with your abs held in and extend the left leg until it’s level with your hip, squeezing the quadriceps. Hold for two seconds, lower and repeat on the other leg.
Thighs of Steel — Place towel, water bottle with cap shut tight or an empty hard plastic coffee cup between your knees as you sit tall with your abs held in. Squeeze the bottle or the cup, release a little and squeeze again. Repeat for 16 repetitions of slow pulses.
Upper Body Deskercises:
Bicep Curl — Hold water bottle in right hand and with abs held in tight and keeping your spine straight, curl your water bottle towards your shoulder. Repeat 16 repetitions on each arm.
Almost Six Pack Abs — Hold a water bottle with both hands and stretch it above your head, arms held straight. Gently bend towards the left as far as you can, contracting your abs. Come back to center and repeat on the right. Complete 10 full repetitions of moving from left to right.
And, again, don’t forget to get out of your chair every once in a while.
“One of the best things you can do is get up and take a walk at work — even if it’s just walking inside the perimeter of the building if the weather is bad,” Walters says.
For more information about Destination Fitness, visit www.destinedtobefit.com or call 847-497-3474.