Sitting for Long Periods Makes Us Ill: Exercises for Desk Breaks

Back pain is now a widespread complaint among many adults. According to experts, this is mainly caused by a lack of exercise and incorrect sitting posture. But everyone can do something about it with just a few minutes. This article shows how desk breaks can be used to improve flexibility and fitness.

Upper body training

Experts recommend taking a 5-minute break at least once an hour and leaving your desk. If you work at a height-adjustable standing desk, you can also adjust the height after each break and switch between sitting and standing work. This also activates the circulation, helps to prevent one-sided muscle strain, and promotes relaxation.

Even with a comfortable desk, the typical screen posture is often unavoidable: tense shoulders, fixed forward gaze, and the chin is unconsciously pushed towards the computer screen. This causes our neck and shoulder muscles to tense up. The result is often a headache.

Turning your head brings quick relaxation. Moving your head ten times to the left and ten times to the right quickly creates a cozy feeling. However, it is important not to turn your head too quickly as this can lead to dizziness.

Circling your shoulders


This exercise is child’s play and can even be done sitting on a chair: rotate your shoulders. Meanwhile, your hands lie relaxed next to your legs and your entire upper body remains relaxed. Alternate between rotating your shoulders forwards and backward four times, first to the left and then to the right.

Rotate the upper body

An easy exercise helps the upper body to relax too: in a seated position, place both feet slightly apart and firmly on the floor. The knees and shoulders should form a line. Now place your left hand loosely on your right knee and your right hand on your left knee. This is followed by the actual relaxing part: the upper body is rotated alternately to the left and right. Four times to each side is enough. This relaxes the muscles through sitting.

Give your legs a break

When sitting at a desk, the legs often remain in one position for countless minutes without moving even 1 mm. This not only causes blood to build up but also water. The results are often “heavy” legs and cramped thighs.

There is a simple exercise for this while sitting. The feet are repeatedly placed alternately on the tips of the toes and the heels. This works the muscles in the lower leg. The contraction also supports the removal of water and mobilizes the blood flow.


Wall sits are ideal for full-body training

The legs should get a little more exercise during the break. Short walks are not only good for getting some fresh air but also mobilize the cardiovascular system. Wall sitting is also ideal for leg training. This involves turning a wall into an imaginary office chair. The back is placed against the wall and a seated position is assumed. As there is no seat, the legs and buttocks have to support the weight themselves. This exercise is perfect for strengthening the muscles and also works the back.

The strengthened lower back in particular is extremely important for sitting upright. If the muscles do not have enough strength, there is a lack of tension and favor at the desk (often even unnoticed and unintentionally, with the body in a slightly bent forward position. This not only tenses the back but also the entire upper body.