4 stretches you can do at your desk

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For many working professionals, sitting at a desk for long stretches of time is part of the job. In the wake of new findings on the health risks of being stationary for too long each day, many health-conscious workers are seeking solutions.

Standing desks are becoming increasingly popular in offices, but for those who are sticking to the traditional sit-down desk, long hours hunched over the computer or stooped over spreadsheets can take a toll on the body.

Fortunately, there are several exercises and stretches you can do at your desk to prevent neck and back pain without changing your clothes, breaking a sweat or distracting your officemates.

Here are four stretches compatible to an office setting, according to the Harvard Business Review.

1. Shoulder rolls. While sitting up straight, raise one shoulder toward your ear, then slowly roll it back and down. Alternate shoulders, repeating each side three or more times. Then repeat the same motions with both shoulders. Breathe deeply with each raise and exhale with each roll down.  

2. Open chest stretch. Either sit on the edge of your chair or stand up straight and interlace your fingers behind your back with your palms facing each other. While leaning forward slightly, slowly raise your arms until you feel your chest expanding. Hold this pose while breathing deeply for 10 to 15 breaths.

3. Neck stretch. Sit upright so your head, neck and spine are all completely aligned. Drop your ear toward your right shoulder without moving your shoulders or turning your head. Breathe deeply and feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Slowly raise your head to the center and switch sides.

4. Back twist. Sit up straight at the edge of your chair. As you inhale, twist to the right so that your left hand reaches around to the outside of your right knee or thigh while your right arm opens up and reaches toward your back. If your chair has armrests, your right hand can reach for the back of the right armrest. Release your breath as you twist and stretch. Return to the center, inhale and repeat the stretch while twisting on the left side.

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