Stay Fit While You Sit (at Your Desk)

Humans aren’t designed for sitting down for long periods of time, and yet that’s what many of us do for eight-plus hours each day in the workplace. The physical therapists at Cioffredi & Associates recommend that you stand up and move around at least once every 30 minutes to prevent stiffness, and we’ve created a simple routine that will help you keep your blood flowing and prevent pain and stiffness from adding stress to your day.



Upper body circles to stretch during a long trip by car or plane.
Start with your hands on your knees and your feet shoulder width apart. Keeping your head in a fixed position, circle your ribcage slowly as if you’re using your upper body to clean out a giant jar of peanut butter. Circle to the left 5 times, and then to the right 5 times.

Demonstrated stretch of wrist and forearm for desk workers.
Alternate stretching wrist both palm out and palm tucked, both with arms extended and with them bent by your side.
Seated Neck Stretch
Shrug and release your shoulders. With your chest up and shoulders level, hang your head to one side so your ear is toward your shoulder. Relax there for 2-3 breaths. Gently straighten up, slowly shrug and release both shoulders, and then switch sides. Alternate and repeat 4-6 times.
Glute stretch for airplane or car seat.
Roll your shoulders back, sit up straight, and draw one knee toward your chest. With your opposite hand positioned on the outside of your knee, pull your knee toward your opposite shoulder. You should feel a stretch in your gluteus muscle.
Crunch twist exercise for car or airplane seat.
Start by pulling your abdominal muscles in toward your spine. Keep your feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart. With your hands behind your head, slowly bring one elbow together with the opposite knee, lifting your foot off the floor. Exhale as you twist down. Inhale and sit tall. Switch to the other elbow/knee. Complete 8-10 twists on each side.
Seated calf raise exercise for travelers.
Start with your feet flat on the floor, then raise your heels up until your toes are pointed. Repeat 8-10 times, with both feet together or alternating left/right.
Ankle Pump Travel Stretch
After circling your foot in both directions, and with your leg extended, point and flex your foot as though you’re pumping a pedal. Repeat 8-10 times with each leg.
Stretch for Piriformis Muscle
Cross one leg over the other so that the outside of your foot is resting on your other knee. Push down on the knee of the leg that is crossed over until you feel a good stretch in your hips and glutes. Hold for 8-10 seconds, leaning forward very gradually from the waist, and then switch sides.
Arm Shakeout for Travelers
Relax your arms, breathe deeply and, starting on one side, gently shake out all the joints of the hand for 4-6 seconds. Work your way to gently shaking out your (relaxed) elbow, using your shoulder to mobilize that joint for 4-6 seconds. If that’s working well, try using the movement of your whole rib cage to shake out your (relaxed) shoulder joint.


For more information about movement and health in the workplace, check out our Workplace Wellbeing page, and if you need more help to address pain or limitations, please call us at 603-643-7788 to schedule an evaluation with our physical therapy staff. Accepting insurance and scheduling from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.