Deskercise: Stretch out self assessment season

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While the busy season workload will stretch you mentally, physically stretching can help alleviate stress and your sanity.  

If you feel like you are flagging as you stumble towards the self assessment finishing line, you can counteract inertia by stretching your muscles. Not only will this short exercise help boost your concentration, but research has found that sedentary life is bad for your health. Prolonged sitting has been linked with gaining weight, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and premature death.  The chief medical officers advise that adults should participate in moderate to intense activity that amounts to at least 150 minutes a week.

Our sister site AccountingWEB US has run a workplace exercise programme for the past few years that includes exercises to stretch almost every part of your body.

We have compiled some of Accountingweb US’s short 'deskercises'. Better still; you don’t even have to leave your desk. Here are some step-by-step exercises, starting at your feet and moving towards your head, to ease the strains of those long work hours:

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Starting at the feet

Your feet will spend most of the day confined in shoes, and they can become vulnerable. AccountingWEB.com’s first exercise involves slipping off your shoes and using a pencil as a rudimentary dumbbell. 

Step 1: Put your feet flat on the floor and place a pencil horizontally in front of your feet.

Step 2: With your right foot, pick up the pencil with your toes.

Step 3: Hold for a count of six and do the same on the left foot.

Step 4: Repeat ten times on each foot.

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Calf stretch

Stretching out your calves will provide better support for your upper body. This next exercise, also known as the wooden leg, should alternate between your right and left leg.

Step 1: Sit at the edge of your chair and straighten your back. Place your feet flat on the floor.

Step 2: Stretch your left leg out straight in front of you.

Step 3: Hold for five seconds.

Step 4: Bend your leg and bring your left foot under your chair.

Step 5: Try to touch the bottom side of your chair with your left ankle.

Step 6: Return to the starting position.                                 

Step 7: Repeat complete exercise 10 times.

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Abs-solutely fabulous

Are you slumped over your desk filing tax returns? It’s safe to say your abs are not getting stretched. With the temptation of snacks a short reach away to quell your tax return hunger, your abs are likely to be expanding, rather than strengthened.

The seated bicycle pedal crunches your abs, and unleashes a burst of energy.

Step 1: Sit on a stationary chair that has armrests. 

Step 2: Scoot down to the edge of the seat and support your upper body on the armrests.

Step 3: Pretend you're riding a bicycle. Bring each knee near your chest, keeping your abdominal muscles contracted.

Step 4: Concentrate on moving your legs in smooth circles.

Step 5: Pedal for two to three minutes.

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Invisible chair

This exercise will stretch your knees, abs, and back. You can even burst into this exercise while talking on the phone with a client. Those with delicate knees should adapt this exercise by using a chair or holding onto a desk as added support.

Step 1: Get up from your desk and find a wall to press against.

Step 2: If you're not holding on to anything else, consider holding a weight in each hand.

Step 3: Slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor, just as if you're sitting on an imaginary chair. It's okay to hold on to a desk (or co-worker) to take off some of the resistance.

Step 4: Make sure your knees are directly over your ankles and your head is against the wall.

Step 5: Hold for at least five seconds. Over time, work up to one minute.

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Arm circles

Arm circles are exactly as you would imagine: rotating your arms will stretch your shoulders, arms and upper torso. If you have co-workers sitting beside you, it might be an idea to take a step back to avoid poking them in the eye.

Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Step 2: Extend both arms out to the side at a 90-degree angle to your body.

Step 3: Move your arms in small, fast circles forward.

Step 4: Do as many rotations as you can and then reverse the motion, doing as many circles as you can in the reverse direction.

Step 5: Take a break and repeat two more times.

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Upper body stretch

Many of you will already instinctively do this stretch. After a long day, flinging your arms up in the air and reaching overhead. This stretch will stretch out your upper body and help with your posture after spending the day hunched over the computer.

Step 1: Sit up tall in your chair or stand up.

Step 2: Stretch your arms overhead and interlock your fingers.

Step 3: Turn your palms toward the ceiling as you lift your chin up, tilt your head back, and look up at the ceiling.

Step 4: Inhale for the count of 5, exhale to the count of 5, and release.

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Tighten and relax muscles

All the stresses accumulated over this busy period will likely settle on your neck and shoulders. You can relieve these stresses through this simple relaxation stretch. You can complete this stretch standing up or sitting down. 

Step 1: Start with your head up straight, body relaxed.

Step 2: Inhale.

Step 3: Try to tighten and tense all of your neck and shoulder muscles, bringing your shoulders up close to your ears.

Step 4: Hold for 5-10 seconds.

Step 5: Exhale, and allow all of your muscles to relax and your shoulders to drop to a normal position.

Step 6: Repeat several times, concentrating on the total relaxation at the end of each repetition.

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Intersperse these exercises in short bursts throughout your day and you should find your energy grow to power you across the self assessment finishing line. 

Let us know how you got on with these exercises, and comment below with your exercise regime from behind the desk.

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