The three o’clock slump might have you reaching for a cup of coffee or sugary snack in order to re-focus. According to New York City Fitness Professional Jon Gallo, “desk workers should take short stretch breaks at least once an hour. Taking frequent, shorter breaks that allow you regularly relax and stretch is more effective than taking a few longer breaks.” Jon also notes that if the majority of your time is spent typing on a computer, you should aim to take a five minute break every 30 minutes spent on the computer.
Have You Taken a Stretch Break Today? Jon encourages employers to post these five reminders in strategic spots around the workplace to motivate employees to “take a break”:
- Neck and Shoulder Stretches
- Roll your chair away from your desk. Starting with your head facing forward, using your hand, gently stretch your head and neck to the left and right
- Practice this simple de-stressing technique: take a deep breath and shrug your shoulders as high as you can, and gently lower them, while breathing out deeply
- Continuous typing can lead to stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Help reduce the chances of an injury by giving your hands and fingers a break.
- Roll back from your desk and allow your hands to fall at your sides. Roll your wrists in a clockwise and counter-clockwise direction. Shake them out to reliever any tension
- Stretch your forearms by flexing your palms towards your arms, gently increasing the stretch with your other hand. Then extend your palm away from your arm, using your other hand to stretch the top of your hand towards your forearm. You should feel a stretch throughout the underside of your arm
- Sitting for long periods at a time is unnatural and can create pressure, especially in the lower back region. Jon recommends standing and walking as often as possible
- When standing, do a simple back stretch by bending at the waist and letting your arms lower towards the ground. Try to release all tension in your back and slowly “roll up,” one vertebrae at a time
- If you don’t have a back injury, work on improving your range of motion by doing gentle torso twists, rotating your trunk several times to help “loosen up.”
- Sitting for long periods of time also cause blood to pool in your lower legs. Jon says getting moving, even walking around the block, can help improve circulation and “wake up” tired legs
- Simple leg stretches such as calf raises, quad stretches and hamstring stretches can all be done in the comfort of your cubicle
- If you feel yourself getting drowsy at your desk, a neat trick you can try is leg lifts: from a sitting position, raise your foot 3-4 inches off the ground and hold it. You will start to feel a burn – keep going until your muscle gives out, repeat on the other side
- Everyone needs a moment to “get away” from it all. Allow yourself to sit quietly in a break room or outdoors and let your mind wander
- Music can be soothing and help relieve stress during tense situations. Find your favorite song and let yourself smile – you’ll be surprised how much stress can be relieved simply by smiling or laughing!
About New York City Fitness Professional Jon Gallo
Jon Gallo has been a mainstay in the fitness community for over 15 years. Jon is Certified Personal Trainer, educated by The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. Jon is the founder of Now I’m Fit, Inc., a start-up personal training company that provides services for New Yorkers, and Cycle Revolutions, the first professional indoor cycling center in Queens, NY. Jon currently operates Queen’s first full-service MMA and fitness facility for men and women, Tightan Gym, located in Astoria. Jon also performs “Stretch and Flex” wellness programs for large corporate clients such as Skanska, across New York City.
Jon recently served as the exclusive television correspondent for The Fitness Atlantic Championships 2011, a Natural Body Building Pro-Qualifier, held in Wallingford, CT, where he interviewed P90X Founder Tony Horton. Jon’s athletic background includes his participation as a player in the AFL’s X-Treme Football League (2004-2005), and as a Semi-Professional Baseball Player for the New York Eagles (2006-2007). Jon was selected as a judge for the 2005 International Federation of Bodybuilders Competition. Jon has competed in the 1996 and 2006 F.A.M.E. Show, which promotes natural bodybuilding. For more information, please visit www.tightan.com.