top of page

Stretch At Your Desk – A Guide To Stretching While at Work

Updated: Dec 30, 2022

Physical inactivity is a major problem in the US.

According to the CDC, 50% of American adults do not get enough physical activity. Lack of physical activity can result in many health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Since we spend a majority of our time either lying on a couch or working at our desks jobs, it's easy to understand why.

Stretch At Your Desk – A Guide To Stretching While at Work

As a health coach, I believe everyone deserves to be healthy and active no matter their schedule. Being active is not only limited to going to the gym or jogging outside. There are plenty of exercises you can do to stretch your body in the middle of the work day, right from your chair.

With that, I decided to create a series of videos called 'Stretch At Your Desk' to help you reset and stretch even while you're busy working.

I provide suggestions and video instructions on how to do these exercises. All you need is a chair and you’re good to go.

Table of Contents

Stretch At Your Desk Exercises

Follow along and do some Stretch At Your Desk exercises with me:

If you prefer to do it yourself, here are the step-by-step instructions on how to do these four stretches at your desk.

Forward Fold

How to do a seated Forward Fold:

  • Inhale.

  • Lengthen your spine up.

  • As you exhale, let your chest rest on your thighs as your forward fold

  • Release your head and your neck towards your shins.

  • Take a deep breath (inhale and exhale) in the folded position.

  • Take another breath, inhale.

  • Hold for 5 plus breaths

  • As you exhale, slowly roll up one vertebra at a time.

  • Release your head and your neck last.

Seated Figure Four

How to do Seated Figure Four:

  • Take your right foot

  • Cross it up and over your left thigh. Ankle should be on the opposite side of the thigh

  • Flex your right foot.

  • Sit up nice and tall to stretch your glutes.

  • Press your right elbow on your right thigh.

  • Stay in this position for a few breaths.

  • Then repeat on the other side.

Another option for you is to do a forward fold while in a figure four position. After you flex your right foot, you can fold over your legs.

Neck Stretch

How to do Neck Stretch:

  • Inhale.

  • Start to bring your left ear towards your left shoulder.

  • Press your right wrist onto your chair to get a deeper stretch in your neck.

  • As you exhale, gently come back up to the center.

  • Repeat on the other side.

  • Don’t forget to stretch the back of your neck too. Stretch your neck forward by tucking your chin towards your chest.

  • Repeat for a few breaths.

Chest Stretch or Heart Opener

How to do Chest Stretch or Heart Opener:

  • Have a little space between your back and the back of your chair.

  • Sit up nice and tall. Inhale.

  • Start to bring your hands behind your back and clasp them together. If you can’t reach that, you can hold onto a towel with both hands behind your back.

  • Start to bring your shoulders down and away from your ears.

  • Slowly move your hands towards the back of your chair.

  • On your next exhale, release your hands and lengthen your spine so you are sitting nice and tall.

What to do next?

Hopefully, Stretch At Your Desk helped you feel more relaxed at work and reduced some of the tension and stress.

Remember to stretch often, whether or not you have time for the entire routine. Maybe take five minutes every hour to do some of these stretches and see how much of a difference it makes in your workday.

If you found this helpful or would like to see more content like this, please let me know in the comments below.

If you have the time to do some stretching at night, here are 3 Yoga Poses to Help Sleep.

Stretch At Your Desk FAQs

What is Deskercise?

Deskercise or 'desk exercise' is a term used to describe any form of workout you perform from your desk. It's also known as a "desk stretch".

The idea behind deskercise is that you can get fit, even when you have a busy schedule. The goal is to improve your health and wellness, during particularly stressful times, like working at a computer.

Stretch At Your Desk is a guide to provide you with a list of simple routines to help stretch your legs, arms, and back.

How often should you stretch at a desk job?

According to CCOHS, everyone should take a 5-10 minute break for every hour spent at a workstation. During this time you can try to stand and walk or do some stretches.

If you can, try to change your position from time to time to avoid strain on certain parts of your body.

How many hours of sitting is healthy?

Just Stand Organization classifies sitting as LOW risk if you sit for less than four hours per day. MEDIUM risk is designated for those who sit between four and eight hours per day. HIGH risk for those who sit for more than eight hours a day.

You can check out their Sitting Calculator to further determine your Risk of Sitting.

People who sit more than 11 hours per day are at very high risk of obesity and other health problems.

Is standing while working good for you?

Standing at work is not only better for your posture, but it also burns more calories than sitting.

One study showed that standing burns 88 calories per hour, compared to 80 calories while sitting. Walking burns around 210 calories an hour. Standing while working can help lessen your back pain and help you be more productive.

However, standing while working does not replace exercise. It can help you burn calories and alleviate the strain of sitting for long hours.

Your body still needs some form of exercise/movement!


Alexa Hanshaw

About the Author

Alexa Hanshaw

Co-Author: Irish Doton

Alexa Hanshaw is a health and stress management coach who helps women be the CEO of their stress. She empowers her clients to push past the confusion of the health and wellness industry to create lifestyle habits that bring them energy and work with their bodies instead of against it.

Join her free Facebook group, Be the CEO of Your Stress and follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube for quick, easy & healthy tips on stress, health, fitness, nutrition, sleep, and how to stay mindful!

53 views0 comments


bottom of page