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Health and Wellbeing - July 2014

03 Jul 2014

Make time to move – Theory!

A five-minute stretch combined with some mobility exercises at work can do wonders for your posture, health and wellbeing.

For the office worker it would be a fair assumption that we spend more than half of our working day slumped over a computer, laptop or some kind of electronic device.

Poor posture at the desk is common, often with poor ergonomics at a work station. This can lead to headaches, a sore neck, back and shoulders. In the medium to long-term if left unaddressed, muscles shorten further and the poor posture becomes more permanent, as does the impact to general health.

Here are some great exercises to do at your work desk or in the corridor if you are an exhibitionist (or want to motivate others!).

Whether you are a regular at the gym or you have never worked out, we can all benefit from some more regular stretching. Why don’t you lead some mini-stretch breaks in your work place this month and help out your buddies?

Make time to move – Practical!

In general, hold stretches for 20-30 seconds and repeat two or three times. Try the following in any order:

Calf pumps – Blood pools in the lower legs when you don’t move. Calf pumps will help circulate blood and oxygen back to the lungs and brain. You can do this while seated or standing, but standing would be better. Complete 20 pumps by pushing your foot down and lifting your heels up, then lowering down. Rest and repeat.

Forearm and bicep stretch – Straighten your arm and pull the hand back towards the body (think Spiderman). This helps release the muscles in the arm that shorten when typing on your key board. Stretch both arms.

Chest and shoulder stretch – stand up, join your hands behind your back and open up the chest.

Neck release – When seated, hold the base of your chair then tilt your head to the side, taking the ear to shoulder. Then move slowly to the other side. Once completed, roll the head in a semi-circle forwards

Standing quadriceps stretch / hip flexor release – Balance yourself by holding on to a fixed object, lift the leg and grab the foot. Pull your heel into your backside. Push the hip forwards. Repeat on both legs.

Exercise to improve physical and mental health

We all know that a regular exercise routine can have great benefits for our health and well-being. The National Guidelines for Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour recommends:

Adults (aged 18-64) should exercise with moderate intensity for at least 300 minutes per week; and

Children and young people (aged 5-17) need at least 60 minutes of vigorous activity EVERY day.

Please take a minute to check where you, your family and friends are in this regard – do they need your help to live a healthier life? Working out or exercising with family and friends is a great way to build healthier and happier families and communities – why don’t you take the lead?

Have you heard about the brain chemical serotonin? Exercise helps stimulate the synthesis of serotonin and maintain healthy levels within the brain and body. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, whereas higher levels are associated with “feeling great!”

Aerobic activities like walking, running, riding and swimming are noted as better forms of exercise for the serotonin production, but of course any form of activity is better than none at all.

So if you notice any of your friends are going through a tough time, one of the best things you could do is to get them exercising!

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