Six Quick Stretches to do at your Desk

Work From Home (WFH) Series No. 8

Given the increased amount of time we are spending sitting down, it's important to take care of our bodies to make sure we are taking care of our body and mind (see Post #1). As mentioned in our last post, we do outline some of the benefits of being outdoors, however being outside may not always be an option to us. Just because you aren't able to go outside doesn't mean you can't take a few minutes to take care your body by doing some stretches!

You may be asking "How can something so simple as stretching help you work?". Something as simple as taking a few minutes throughout your day to stretch can increase your productivity, creativity, focus, attentiveness and engagement [1, 2, 3]. One study showed that 20% of people reported eating their lunch at their desk, and 13% of people 'seldom or never' take any time for lunch [1]. Combine both groups in this study and that is 1/3 of employees who don't move around during their lunch break! Not only are there psychological benefits of taking a break, there are also physical benefits. Studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time can increase obesity levels, increase risk for type 2 Diabetes, and premature mortality [4, 5].

Since most of us at Tjene have jobs where we sit at a desk for prolonged periods of time, this article in particular focuses on how we can get our blood pumping even if we aren't able to take a long break to get up and walk around.

At Tjene, we encourage everyone to take some time each day to get up, move around and take a break (see post 1), but if some days are busier than others- there are some stretches you can do right now from the comfort of your own desk. Doing these stretches regularly will give your body some tender, love and care (TLC) while you are hard at work.  Happy stretching!

1. Arm and Shoulder:

  • Take one hand and place it on the back of the opposite shoulder, with your elbow bending just in front of you
  • Take your other arm and push  on the back of your bent arm to feel a deeper stretch
  • Repeat on both sides 2-3 times for about 15 seconds each side

2. Back #1:

  • While sitting, reach behind your chair and grab hold of your hands (you may have to reach your wrist, depending on your range of motion!)
  • When you have a good grip, push your chest forward to feel a stretch
  • Repeat 2-3 times for about 15 seconds

3. Back #2:

  • Interlock both hands above your head with your palms facing the sky
  • Sit straight up and keep pushing your hands up as far as you can, whilst keeping your shoulders relaxed
  • Repeat 2-3 times for about 15 seconds

4. Neck / Shoulders:

  • Take both hands, and grab the bottom of your seat
  • Slowly, whilst keeping your shoulders down, tilt your head by bringing your ear down towards your shoulder on either side
  • Repeat on both sides 2-3 times for about 15 seconds each side

5. Wrist:

  • Stretch your arm out right in front of you, keep your elbow straight, with your palm facing away from you and your fingers facing the sky
  • Gently, with the other hand grab your fingers and pull them toward you
  • Then rotate your arm so your fingers are pointing down, so you can see the inside of your palm and use your other hand to gently pull your fingers close to you
  • Repeat on both sides 2-3 times for about 15 seconds each side

6. Glutes

  • Bring one of your ankles up so it is resting on the thigh of your other leg
  • While keeping your back straight, with your hand, gently press down on the knee of the leg that is up, if this is easy for you, slowly bring your chest forward whilst keeping your back straight.
  • Repeat on both sides 2-3 times for about 15 seconds each side


[1] New Study Shows Correlation Between Employee Engagement and the Long Lost Lunch Break

[2] The Importance of Employee Breaks

[3] Embracing Work Breaks: Recovering from Work Stress

[4] Desk-Based Occupational Sitting Patterns: Weight-Related Health Outcomes

[5] Too Much Sitting - A Health Hazard

[6] 9 Desk Stretches for People Who Sit All Day

[7] 17 Desk Stretches That’ll (Almost) Replace Going to the Gym

[8] 8 Stretches you can do at your Desk

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