3 Exercises to Combat Desk-Job Body

Use these stretches for desk workers to counteract the damage on your body from sitting eight-plus hours a day.

Unless you've snagged a job in the ER, grocery store, or some other fast-paced work environment that has you on your feet, chances are, you're sitting on your tush nearly every minute of the workday. Save for the coffee and restroom breaks, your butt is in constant contact with an office chair, and moments after quitting time, you probably plop yourself on the couch and spend an hour or two scrolling through IG with Netflix playing in the background.

All this sitting may seem like NBD, but research shows excessive sitting time almost doubles the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and sedentary behavior (think: watching TV, using a computer, sitting at school, work, or on your commute) has been linked with an increased risk of death, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and hypertension. Plus, spending all this time in one position can make you feel tight AF.

"Holding any position for a long period of time can wear on your body, especially if you're sitting," says Alycea Ungaro, founder of Real Pilates. "Sitting puts your muscles in a short, contracted position, and your range of motion gets reduced."

exercises-combat-desk-job-body , Mid adult woman sitting in her home office, smiling and stretching
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You'll need to tackle at least an hour of physical activity daily to combat the increased risk of death linked with sitting eight hours a day, according to research published in The Lancet. But performing Ungaro's stretches for desk workers — which specifically target the back, shoulders, chest, legs, and feet — can help quickly counteract the strain and shortening of muscles from sitting all day every day. "This routine takes all of two minutes, and if you tether these moves to something you habitually do, there's a higher chance it'll stick and make a difference in your body," she says.

Add Ungaro's stretches for desk workers to the end of your normal workout cooldown to give your muscles the TLC they deserve. (Another way to prevent pain and tightness while working at a desk: Set up an ergonomic workspace.)

Reverse Plank

A. Begin sitting with legs stretched out in front of body. Place hands on the mat behind you, palms back and fingers facing body.

B. Press hips up high, holding legs together. Keep head forward looking right down the center of legs. Lift chest up higher and higher.

C. Hold for 5 breaths or 10 seconds. Lower the hips with control. Repeat two more times.

(BTW, this move also helps you build a super strong core.)

Heel Sit

Heel Sit

A. Kneel on mat in an upright sitting position with legs together and feet underneath you.

B. Tuck toes under, bending them fully and stretching the soles of the feet. Place hands on thighs for added support. Sit and hold the position for 30 seconds. Work up to 2 minutes, continuing to lift in the chest and put increasingly more weight into the balls of the feet the longer you hold.

Lunge Stretch

A. Kneel down and step one foot forward into a deep hip lunge. Place hands on your knees for stability and keep upper body upright.

B. Shift weight back, coming out of the stretch and then lunge back into it. Hold for 5 breaths or 10 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times, then switch sides.

(Try these variations of this stretch for desk workers to create a feel-good burn in your hamstrings.)

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