We’ve all heard it before: ’sitting is the new smoking’

But why?

The longer we sit or lay down during the day the more we are at risk of heart disease and cancer*, not to mention lack of mobility and functional movement.

It is important to break up endless hours of sitting at your desk with some stretches and movement to keep the blood flowing around your body, open up your body to full range of movements and also to help you stay on top of those long reports or getting back to your emails.

Below are 5 stretches to help you stay more focused and alert in the office. Try setting an alarm every 1 - 2 hours and get the whole office joining in!

1. Shoulder Opener

What does it do

Helps open up the back of your shoulders and triceps and lats.

How to do it

With your wrists resting on the desk and arms extended, step away from your desk and fold over at the hips. Drop your head and chest towards the floor and sink down through your upper back and shoulders.

Spend 2 minutes here focusing on big long deep breaths.



2. S-Waves

What does it do

Works through rotation of the shoulder joints, as well as getting the mid and upper back going. Will help improve posture.

How to do it

Sitting down at your desk or standing, take your arms out wide in line with your shoulders. Take one arm arm and over your head and the other one down and around your back. Try to touch the top hand to the bottom hand.

Complete 10 - 20 reps on each side.



3. Chest Stretch

What does it do

Opens up your chest, shoulders and biceps. Because sitting down at the computer all day causes rounding of the shoulders and tightness across the chest, this stretch will counteract that.

How to do it

Stand with your right arm at a right angle, forearm resting on a door frame. Step your right leg across you in front and slowly twist your body away from the door to feel stretch across your pec and shoulder. This can also be done with a straight arm with your palm open facing up.

Hold for 1 - 2 minutes on each side, keeping shoulders relaxed and big deep breaths.



4. Half Seated Pigeon

What does it do

Allows the hip joint to work through external rotation, as well we as stretching the joint and the glutes.

How to do it

Sitting on your chair with a tall spine, cross your leg and rest your right foot on your left knee. From here, lean forward over your legs and feel a stretch through your right hip and around your bottom.



5. Quad Stretch

What does it do

Not only does it test your balance, but the quad stretch is a great way to open up the front of your hip. It will stretch through your quad muscles down the front of your leg but also stretch the hip flexor which is always tightened when you sit down for long periods of time. This is wear standing desks come in handy.

How to do it

Standing in front of your chair, with hands on the desk for balance, take your right leg behind you and rest your foot on the chair. Squeeze your right butt cheek and be sure to not arch your back too much. If that’s a little easy, you can grab your right foot with your right hand and pull your foot to butt cheek.


Did you know the average person only walks just over half the recommended 10 000 steps per day?

Tips to get those steps up during the day

Take the stairs instead of the lift. Walk over and talk to your colleagues instead of emailing them. Take your lunch break away from your desk and enjoy a short walk outside if you can. Organise walking meetings or phone calls. Get off at the bus stop or train station before work and walk the rest of the day.

How to move around the office a bit more

Stand up while you read emails or reports (standing desks help this). Move your rubbish bin away from your desk so you have to get up to throw anything away. Use the speaker phone for conference calls and walk around the room during the calls.

Written by Courtney Brown Peak Trainer/ Nutritionist - @coachcourtneybrown