Long meeting? Practice these easy stretches to get out the kinks
Whether it’s a team of executives holed up in a conference room, a sales staff cramming in the latest product details, or a planner at their desk with a looming deadline, the effects of prolonged sitting can take its toll on your body. It also diminishes your ability to focus. Studies have shown that just a little exercise during the workday can alleviate physical and mental stress. Unfortunately, even a walk around the venue is simply not possible in some situations.
To keep yourself and your attendees grooving, add some simple exercise breaks throughout the day. Five-minutes is all that’s really needed, and no one needs to stray from their seats. If that’s not possible, provide a list of suggested stretches individuals can do on their own during the meeting. There are a host of exercises you can do, and you may already have your own routine. With that, here are just a few suggestions to get the blood flowing and loosen up those muscles.
Your shoulders can tighten up when sitting in a chair for long periods, and this exercise is designed to stretch out those muscles in the back of your shoulders. Place your hand under the elbow, and lift it up and across your chest. Hold this position for 15 seconds as you feel the tension in the back of your shoulder, then relax to your starting position and stretch the other arm.
Upper Arm Stretch
This is a great arm and shoulder stretch, and is reminiscent of the hands-clasped-behind-back cow face yoga pose, just a lot easier. Start by lifting an arm and letting your forearm fall behind your head. Grab your elbow with your other arm and gently pull toward your head, stretching the muscles of the upper arm. Hold it for 15 seconds, release, and stretch the other arm in the same way.
Sun Salutation (in a chair)
This classic yoga move has a modified version for the chair, with the same invigorating benefits. It’s a bit more involved so you may need to lead the group; but it covers several stretches in one exercise. Remember to breathe in as the pose expands, and breathe out when contracting.
Sit upright with hands together in front of your chest. Reach both arms up to the sky, then bend down with your hands resting alongside your feet and your chest on top of your knees. Sitting up again, arch your back with chin up and bring your left knee up toward your chest. Bend your head down, touching your nose to your knee, before dropping your leg to a sitting position and again bending down with your hands aside your feet. With your hands dangling by your legs, move into a cobra pose by arching your back and neck upwards. Sit up and pull your right knee up toward your chest, and touch your nose to the knee. Drop your feet to the floor and bend down again with your hands to your feet. Finally, raise your arms to the sky, then bring your hands together to your chest. Repeat this exercise 8-10 times.
A popular movement in Qigong (yoga’s Chinese cousin), the head roll is simple but effective for getting the kinks out of your neck and shoulders. Sitting upright, bow your head forward, then slowly roll it to the right in a clockwise direction, to the back, left and around, letting the weight of your head do all the work. Do this for 8 to 10 revolutions, then start at the beginning with head bowed forward, and repeat the movement in the opposite (counterclockwise) direction.
This is a great, and simple, exercise for stretching out your core, and revitalizing your muscles, spine and organs. Crossing your legs – right over left – slowly twist right toward the back of the chair. Hold the position for 15 seconds, then slowly turn back to face forward. Cross your left leg over right, and turn left toward the chair back and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat this exercise 8 to 10 times.
Morning Stretch and Lean
This is akin to the arms-to-the-ceiling stretch people naturally do after rolling out of bed. Stretch your arms up, but with hands clasped together and palms pointing upward (which really stretches out wrists and arms). Maintaining this position, slowly lean in a curve to the right as you feel the stretch along the left side of your torso. Come back to the center, then repeat the move to the left. Repeat 8 to 10 times.
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