Anyone who works in an office environment knows firsthand the occupational hazards that are associated with sitting at a desk for long periods of time. For women, as an example, sitting for more than six hours per day can increase the risk of death by an astonishing 40%, and everyone’s good cholesterol can be expected to drop by 20% as a result of too much time spent sitting down. Standing desks can help to reduce health concerns associated with prolonged sitting, but they’re not an option for everyone.
One way those who spend a lot of time sitting can improve their overall health and their workday is to stretch regularly—here’s why.
1. Stretching Increases Flexibility
If you spend too much time sitting in a static position, you can expect blood flow to the muscles in your legs to decrease to some extent. The result? Stiff muscles that offer very little in the way of flexibility, which can make getting through the workday an uncomfortable experience. Because stretching increases flexibility and can actually increase blood flow to the extremities, it’s a direct line of defense against countless hours spent sitting in front of a computer.
2. A Stretch Break Can Wake You Up
The benefit of enhanced blood flow to the muscles as a result of stretching includes a part of the body that may not be so obvious—your brain. When blood flow to the brain increases, a sensation of wakefulness often occurs, resulting in a jolt of much-needed energy that can benefit anyone at 3 p.m. It’s also a lot more sustainable than taking in excessive amounts of caffeine (which can result in a “crash”).
3. You’ll be Less Likely to Injure Yourself On or Off the Job
No one ever plans on getting injured, and it’s not realistic to prevent all accidents from happening. But what if there were something you could do to actually reduce the likelihood or severity of certain types of injuries? Dynamic stretching (especially right before a workout) can reduce your chances of getting injured, both in terms of warming up your muscles and creating a sharp mental focus.
Stretching at work doesn’t have to be difficult or interrupt your workflow in any way. Take five minutes to move around every hour, which will help to increase blood flow and provide you with a sense of clarity that can truly improve productivity. Over time, stretching regularly will become a habit you’ll no longer be able to ignore.
For a list of stretches tailor-fit for office workers, click here.