Fit, energized, and de-stressed during your lunch break! Without leaving the Office (Part 1)

exercise office

Warming up:

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
Loosen up the spine by swinging your arms around your body, twisting at your waist, and taking your head with you, looking backwards as far as possible.
Do this ten times slowly, increasing the speed, then five times slowing down.
Finish by bending over, letting your arms, shoulders and head drop like a Raggedy Ann doll.
Breathe into your belly. Slowly roll up, stacking vertebra on vertebra. Your head comes up last.

Upper Body:

1. Neck Stretch
Sit up straight in a chair and take a gentle breath. Inhale deeply, and on your exhalation, allow your head to move gently to the left. Breathe, and release even more into the stretch on your exhalation. Allow your ear to come close to your shoulder.
Hold for three rounds of breaths.

Variation 1 : Raise your arm, bringing it over to the opposite side of your head with the elbow pointing upwards, covering your right ear with your hand. Allow the weight of your arm to slowly bend your neck to the left. This creates a deeper stretch.
Repeat on the other side.

Variation 2: Interlace your hands and bring them under your chin.
Take a breath in. On the exhalation, push with your hands against your chin, gently bending your head backwards. Your lower back should rise naturally. Stay for two rounds of breaths, and slowly come back into the starting position. Now take your hands behind the bottom of your head (junction of head and neck) with your arms are parallel to the floor, elbows bent.
Take a deep breath in, and on your exhalation, push with your hands against the back of your head/upper neck, bending your head forward and down. Your thyroids are squeezed and your chin is in your upper chest. Release your neck muscles by relaxing and breathing easily. Rotate your head gently to the right and to the left. To release, lessen the pressure with your hands and bring your head up slowly again. End with your arms alongside your body. Look straight ahead, taking a deep breath in. Turn your head, exhaling over your right shoulder. Repeat on the other side.

2. Deltoid Stretch
Stretch your right arm out in front of you, shoulder high, parallel to the floor. Take your left arm and place your hand holding (covering) the right elbow. Gently guide your right arm to the left, until your right hand is behind your left shoulder, pushing your elbow with your left hand. Hold and breathe for three complete breaths. Relax your shoulders.
Repeat on the other side.

3. Shoulder Roll
Roll your shoulders forward ten times, making big circles, breathing in on the upper curve and out on the lower curve. Do the same rolling your shoulders backwards ten times. Take a deep breath in, lift your shoulders up as high as you can toward your ears, hold your breath and your shoulders up for three seconds, and then drop them with a big exhalation and (maybe) sigh. Do this three times.

4. Chest and Shoulders
Sit tall and a bit forward in your chair, so you have a little space behind your back. Bring your arms to your back, resting your hands flat on the seat behind your back. Pull your shoulders back and gently lean backwards, taking your head with you. Let it drop backwards. Only drop your head backwards if you have no serious neck problems. Otherwise, just lean back with your shoulders pulled back as well.

Variation: Walk to a regular door frame. Place your hands on the frame just above shoulder-height. Take a small step forward, moving your body into the door frame but leaving your hands firmly on the door frame. Hold, stretch and breathe, stretching a bit further on each exhalation.

5. Spinal Twist
Sit sideways on your chair. Hold the back of your char with both hands. Slowly twist your body from your waist, turning toward the back of your chair. Keep both hips (sit-bones) firmly on your seat, and your feet flat on the floor, legs relaxed. Hold and increase the twist slightly with every exhalation. Keep your shoulders relaxed, but look backwards as far as you can. Relax your face. Smile. Do this for six full breaths.
Repeat on the other side.

6. Seated Cat and Dog Stretch
Sit back against the back of your chair, spine straight, shoulders relaxed.
Place your hands on your thighs. Arch (concave) the back while breathing in, and rounding the middle back (convex) on the exhalation. No holding here. Let the movement be smooth and rhythmic. Now breathe in slowly while arching your back, and exhaling fully by pulling your navel back toward the spine. Harden your stomach muscles as much as possible while rounding your back until you feel your middle back firmly pressed into the back of your chair. Repeat twelve times. Feel how flexible your spine has become.

7. Wrist Stretch
Bring your arms in front of you and start rotating your wrists ten times one way and ten times the other way. Move your hands up and down for ten rounds. Then place your left hand against the inside of your right fingers and bend your hand back as much as possible. Keep breathing and hold for a count of ten. Then bring the same hand to the outside of your right fingers and bend down as much as possible. Hold and breathe, counting to ten. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Doing this daily will prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and pain in your wrists.

8. Finger Stretch
Bring your hands together in front of you at chest height. Slowly open your hands, raising your elbows but pressing your fingers firmly together. Hold for a count of ten. Breathe, and relax your shoulders. Then, still keeping a somewhat firm pressure, open and close your hands by bringing your fingertips inward and together, opening and pulling your palm apart. Then bring your fingers together again, pressing. This also is called a “finger-pushup.” This is important to keep your hands and fingers flexible and free of arthritis.

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