Stretch It Out
By Noel Le, RDN
Sitting is the new smoking. You may be familiar with this popular tagline
that has been peddled by the media as a way to sensationalize the dangers
of a sedentary lifestyle. While health risks associated with smoking remain
substantially higher than for sitting, it would be remiss to not mention
that sitting for long periods of time has been linked with a number of
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests sitting for extended
periods of time contributes to long-term health issues, including obesity,
diabetes, increased blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic
syndrome. So if you find yourself being a desk dweller, stuck in the same
position for eight hours or more a day, then you likely have increased
risk of the above mentioned health issues. Even if you are not plagued
by these health issues currently, have you noticed stiffness in your muscles
from sitting for extended periods of time? Has your energy level been
dropping? Or do you feel yourself being less productive? These are all
warning signs from your body – telling you that it’s time
to get up and move!
Stretching is a great way to decrease your sitting time. Not only will
you reduce your risk of soft tissue injuries and joint pain associated
with sitting all day, but you will also reap the benefits of feeling refreshed
and more productive.
Here are some simple stretch exercises you can do without even having to
leave your desk:
Neck: Let your head drop slowly to the left, then to the right. Slowly drop
your chin to your chest, and then raise your chin as high as you can.
Turn your head to the left, return it to the normal position, then turn
it to the right.
Shoulder Roll: Slowly roll your shoulders forward five times in circular motion, using
your full range of motion. Then roll your shoulders backward five times
with the same circular motion.
Middle-Upper Back Stretch: Raise your right arm and grasp it below your left hand. Gently pull your
right elbow toward your left shoulder as you feel for the stretch. Hold
for five seconds. Repeat with the opposite arm.
Side Stretch: Interlace your arms over your head, keeping your elbows straight. Press
your arms backward as far as you can. Then slowly lean to the left, and
then to the right until you can feel the stretch.
Pectoral Stretch: Grasp your hands behind your neck and press your elbows back as far as
you can. Return to the starting position, then drop your arms. Relax. Repeat.
Windmill: Place your feets apart on the floor. Bend over and touch your right hand
to your left foot, with your left arm extended up. Repeat with the opposite arm.
Back Relaxer: Bend down between your knees as far as you can. Return to upright position
Knee Kiss: Pull one leg to your chest, grasp with both hands, and hold for a count
of five. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Hamstrings: Bring your legs straight out in front of your body and hold them in that
position for five seconds. Make sure you are sitting up straight. Relax. Repeat.
Fingers: With your palms down, spread your fingers apart as far as you can. Hold
for a count of five. Relax. Repeat.
Stretch Exercise Reference:
If you have questions or would like further information on leading a healthier
lifestyle, contact one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at the
Outpatient Medical Nutrition Therapy Office or our Diabetes Self-Management
Program located in the Torrance Memorial Specialty Center, 2841 Lomita
Blvd., Suite 335, Torrance. Call 310-891-6707.