Sitting all day, either at home or on the job, can drain your energy and enthusiasm. Slumping over your paperwork tightens your muscles and stiffens your joints, while hunching over your computer compresses your lungs, which hampers oxygen from circulating through your body. Result: You feel sapped and sluggish. This prescription for “desk fatigue” helps loosen tight muscles, rev your circulation, and jump-start your brain. And you don’t even have to get up from your chair! But you might want to push it back from your desk before you get started.
This energizing stretch really gets oxygen flowing by opening your chest and rib cage, which increases your lung capacity.
Sit tall in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Extend your right arm toward the ceiling, on a diagonal, while you extend your left arm toward the floor on a diagonal. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, taking deep, cleansing breaths – inhale through your nose, and exhale out your mouth. Switch arms and repeat.
Now stretch both arms straight out and up as you look toward the ceiling, leaning your shoulders down and back slightly, to open up your chest. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds.
Slouching at your desk? This stretch will rev you up as it eases tension in the muscles of your upper body, reduces tightness between the shoulder blades, and helps prevent carpal tunnel syndrome
Sit up straight in your chair and interlace your fingers in front of your chest. Straighten out your arms with your palms facing out. Feel the stretch in your wrists, arms, and the upper part of your back (between the shoulder blades). Hold for 15 seconds.
Slowly raise your arms above your head. Think of elongating them as you feel a stretch through your arms and upper sides of your rib cage. Hold for 15 seconds, then repeat.
Inversion Forward Bend
This move allows blood to flow to your head, boosting your alertness and mental clarity. It’s great for circulation, too!
Sit up nice and tall. Slowly curl forward, beginning with your chin to your chest. Roll all the way down, one vertebra at a time, as you reach your fingertips toward your toes and relax your neck. This takes pressure off your low back, and it’s great for circulation. Hold for 15 seconds, then slowly roll back up, again one vertebra at a time. Take your time; your head should come up last.
Chair Spinal Twist
This move opens your shoulders, neck, and hips, as well as stretching your spine.
Sit tall in your chair, facing forward, and plant both feet firmly on the floor. Twist your torso left, placing the fingertips of your right hand on the left front corner of the seat and your left forearm on the back of the chair. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat, twisting right.
To challenge yourself and take it up a notch, try this variation: Clasp your hands behind your neck, with your elbows pressed out to the sides. Slowly twist your torso to the left, and then to the right. Repeat, alternating sides, for 20 seconds. This will trim and slim your waist line.
Excerpted from Denise Austin's Get Energy! Copyright © 2011 by Denise Austin. Reprinted by permission of Center Street, New York, NY. All rights reserved.
A native of San Pedro, Calif., Denise started gymnastics at the age of 12 and earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Arizona, graduating in 1979 with an exercise physiology degree. She began her career teaching aerobic exercise classes in the Los Angeles area and wen on to cohost The Jack LaLanne Show in 1981. Denise considers Jack LaLanne one of her role models, and she is delighted to still speak regularly with the 94-year-old fitness legend. During more than 25 years promoting health and fitness, Denise has created 82 workout videos or DVDs. Her enormous number of sales led to her induction into the Video Hall of Fame. Denise has been married for 25 years to Jeff Austin, a sports attorney and brother of tennis champ Tracy Austin. They share a home with their two teenage daughters, Kelly and Katie.