Stretch Break

Have you ever left work feeling hunched over and cramped up?

Time to start stretching throughout the day!

You’ll feel better—and be healthier too—if you can get up from your desk and stretch at least once an hour. To remember to do it, schedule it on your calendar just like you would a work-related task. Taking a break once an hour will get the blood flowing, release stress and tension, and maintain health and productivity. Stretching also gets your eyes off the computer screen and gives them a rest.

Any kind of stretch you can do will be helpful, but here are a few ideas.

  • Stand up and pretend you’re reaching for the ceiling. When you think you’ve stretched as far as you can, try for one more inch and hold for a count of three. Interlock your hands and lean back as far as you can without falling over and hold again for a count of three. Lean left, then right, then forward—holding all for that same three-count.
  • Spread your legs a little bit and see if you can touch the floor. Go limp like a rag doll and feel the stretch in your back.
  • Stretch out one arm and turn the hand so fingers are pointing down. Use the other hand to gently pull the fingers up and towards you, stretching the forearm. Hold for 10–15 seconds and repeat on the other hand.
  • Move your head gently from left to right ten times, and then slowly move your head up and down ten times. Shrug your shoulders ten times, and make a fist and roll your wrists ten times clockwise and counter-clockwise. Finally, open and close your hands ten times, spreading fingers wide.

If you’re stuck sitting in a meeting, you can still stretch…

  • The third and fourth set of stretches above can be done while sitting, but you may need to do them extra slowly so you don’t call undue attention to yourself!
  • Sit up as straight as you can and stretch your body as tall as possible. Roll your shoulders back and enjoy the stretch.
  • Twist your upper body to the left five times and to the right five times.
  • Flex your feet slowly ten times, then quickly ten times.

You don’t have to follow these suggestions exactly—find the stretches that make you feel better. We all hold tension in different places. One last idea for your eyes, which should be done as often as possible: focus on something at least 10 feet away for 10 seconds, and then focus on something closer than your computer screen for 10 seconds. Repeat five times at least once an hour.