Sitting too much? Try these, snack-size exercise breaks

Are you guilty of spending countless hours sitting? Us too. Here's how to better manage the toll it takes on your body, in just 5 minutes.

Working from the comfort of your home certainly has its perks! But sitting still, sinking into the couch, or being hunched over a desk for long periods of time is anything but comfortable on the body.

"Your body really isn’t designed to sit in those postures for long periods of time, it’s really designed to move," said Eric Hammer, physiotherapist and owner of Hammer Physiotherapy in London, Ontario.

And while many of us are returning to the office this year, it doesn’t necessarily mean our activity will improve, especially if our workload revolves around a desk or computer. Staying stagnant can have a negative effect on how our body feels throughout the day and even into tomorrow.

"When we're on the computer, we develop certain postures that can be detrimental in terms of certain conditions like back pain, neck pain, and shoulder issues, and in many cases, it's your muscle going into spasm because of lack of circulation," explained Hammer.

Staying still can cause stiffness, but how bad can it be for your health overall? Well, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) one in four adults in 81% of adolescents are just not moving enough globally. People who are insufficiently active have a 20 to 30% increased risk of health issues and even death.

READ MORE: How to get a good sleep and wake up feeling refreshed

That's why it's important to carve out time for snack-size exercise breaks. Setting aside just five minutes every half-hour to stretch can promote flexibility, sustain muscle mass, and improve your body's circulation, among other health benefits.

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Stretch your body into the opposite position it has been stagnant in to combat stiffness; it will help to reduce muscle tenderness and spasms because it promotes circulation, according to Hammer.

“So within different body parts, we have something called a synovial fluid. It literally acts like oil through the joint. So you're basically oiling up your body so it doesn't feel too stiff,” explained Hammer.

Joanne Lowe, owner and director of Big Stretch Yoga located in Toronto Ont., encourages setting aside 5 minutes for short yoga sessions throughout the workday. Yoga is great for stretching out muscles, practising deep breathing, and improving your mood.

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“There's all kinds of great things you can do just while you're sitting at your desk,” Lowe said.

For some easy exercises: Reach your arms above your head, holding for 3-5 seconds and release. Repeat this 10 times.

Also, try stretching your arms out in front of you with your hands clasped, then switch positions and stretch your arms behind your back. Moving your arms, slowly, side to side is a great way to relieve tension, suggests Lowe.

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Joanne Lowe in studio (TWN)

Joanne Lowe in studio (The Weather Network)

"Remember to exhale. Take some nice, deep breaths. You’ll feel stronger, more flexible, emotionally you will feel stronger, more healthy. So it's sort of an all-encompassing wellness practice."

Snack-size exercise breaks can be on your calendar, whether at home or in the office. To keep yourself motivated and moving, try setting an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to get up and stretch—your body will thank you for it.

For more exercise tutorials, click here or here.

Thumbnail courtesy of Getty Images.