With most classes being on Zoom this semester, students are sitting at their desks more than ever before. Without walking from class to class, bodies are not moving as much as usual and can start to feel stiff.
An analysis of 13 studies on sitting time concluded that “those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.”
Instead of pulling up TikTok during breaks between classes, use this moment to clear both mind and body. When you don’t have time to take a walk, these exercises and stretches are perfect to perform right at your desk.
Stand up from your chair with your feet shoulder-width apart. Practice lowering your body back down until you touch the chair and stand right back up.
Hold your arms out straight to the side at shoulder height. Move your arms in small movements circling backward. For the arm pulses, lower your arms to your sides and face your palms towards the back. Keeping your arms straight, pulse your hands behind you to help strengthen your triceps and stretch your shoulders.
If you have a sturdy chair (or bed) stand with your back to the chair and knees bent, place both of your hands facing forward and palms flat on the surface. Bend your elbows straight back, lowering yourself down while keeping your back close to the chair.
Seated Leg Raises
This exercise can be done in the middle of class without anyone noticing! Sitting upright, straighten one of your legs so that it’s parallel to the floor and hold it there for 10 seconds then lower; repeat on the other leg. You will condition the front and back of your thighs as well as your glutes, all while sitting in class.
Pretend like the back of your desk chair is a barre and hold on with two hands. Place one of your legs in front of the other. Keeping your weight on that front leg, lift your other leg up off the ground, engaging your core and glutes. Bonus: put a resistance band around your legs to add tension!
Reach your hands behind your back as shown to clasp your fingers together; hold stretch for 10 seconds or more.
Prop one foot on top of the desk or chair and reach forward, feeling the stretch for at least 20 seconds, then switch to your other leg.
Clasp your hands behind your lower back. Arch out your chest and raise your chin.
Sitting in your chair, twist your upper body toward one side of the chair and look behind you. Exhale and hold this position for several seconds before repeating on the other side.
Your wrists can feel tight after spending hours typing and texting in the same position. Standing up, place both of your hands on your desk with your palms facing down and fingertips facing towards you. Hold stretch for 20 seconds.
Tips for Proper Sitting at a Desk
- Your eyes should be level with the top 1/3 of your computer screen. If it is too low try placing your computer on top of some books or binders to increase the height
- Set your feet flat on the floor
- Place a cushion on the back of your chair to provide back support.
- It’s important to take breaks! Take a walk, call a friend or stretch out your body