Five exercises to do at your desk

Five exercises to do at your desk

Getting moving and prevent aches and pains caused by desk-bound computer work.
It comes as little surprise to those who spend their days in front of a computer screen that aches, pains and repetitive strains can result. Correct posture and placement of equipment are the main way to combat this discomfort, but some basic exercises can help too.

"First up, stay fit and healthy. If you're strong, fit and flexible, you will be less likely to develop problems," points out physiotherapist Heather Mariner from Sutherland Shire Physiotherapy Centre in Sydney.

"Every hour, take a five-minute break: make a cuppa or do a task away from your computer. Get a decent break at lunchtime, and ideally go for a walk."

Taking a break and walking about gets the blood circulating, especially in the legs, where blood clots can form in people who remain immobile for long periods. Known as deep-vein thrombosis, this has become well known as 'economy class syndrome' on airplanes, but applies equally to offices.

Here some exercises to help the body parts most commonly affected by desk-bound computer work.


"We tend to blink less with prolonged computer use, which can lead to dry eye symptoms," says Professor Nathan Efron at the Queensland University of Technology. "Try to remember to keep blinking, which is of course difficult because blinking is a controlled subconsciously." Frequently look away from the screen and focus on faraway objects. You can also rest your eyes by covering them with your palms for 20 seconds or so.


You can release tension in your neck by rolling your head slowly backwards and forwards (alternatively looking at the ceiling and floor), as well as to left and right (as if trying to touch your shoulders with your ears). Never roll your head in a circular motion around your neck, however, which can cause damage to the joints.


Rolling your shoulders backwards and forwards is a good way to release tension. You can also brace your hands against the edge of your desk and, keeping your arms stiff and straight, attempt to push your shoulders forward. "Join hands together behind your back," suggests Kris Fraser from the University of Queensland's Occupational Health and Safety Unit. "With the shoulders remaining relaxed, gently lift arms to stretch. This can be completed either while standing or seated."


Link your fingers, stretch your arms above your head, then slowly lean from side to side to loosen up your back. You should also make sure you arch your back from time to time. The safest way to do this is to support the small of your back with your hands as you gently lean backwards, holding the pose for a few seconds.


Simple wrist exercises are easy while sitting at your desk, says Kris Fraser. "Extend your arm with your palm facing upwards. With the other hand, gently pull on the fingers while keeping your arm straight. Hold for ten seconds, and repeat time times." You can also link your fingers together and turn your palms away from your body, stretching outwards.