Stretching while Stressing: Quick and Easy Workouts for Working Students

By Mira-Rose Kingsbury Lee

ninja working at desk PNG Clip arts

As perpetually overworked high school students (looking at you, history teachers), we all know that feeling. The clock on your computer reads ‘3 AM’. The quiet blanketing the city is only broken by the furious clacking of computer keys. Unblinking, burrowed inside a blanket, you write a nearly-incomprehensible sentence about colonialism in South Africa. And re-write it. And re-write it again. Your wrists are bent at an uncomfortable angle, your fingers are cramping, and your back aches, but this essay is due tomorrow (technically, today) and it’s worth 20% of your overall grade in the class. What choice do you have?

Now, taking a break may not be an option, but before you toss aside all notions of healthy living, consider the exercise you can achieve right in your desk chair. Here are some example exercises from Shape, a fitness and health source, that can help you be a little healthier. And take it from me – they really do work.

  1. Stretching: Link your hands behind your back and extend your arms at an angle parallel to the ground. Twist to the sides to stretch out your back. Wrap your hands around your left knee and bring it to your chest. Release and then stretch your right leg in the same fashion.
  2. Buns and Guns: Sit up straight, push your knees together, place your hands under your bum, and extend your arms. You shouldn’t be all the way off your seat, but this exercise should be giving your thighs and abs a small workout.
  3. The Speedskater: Sit with your legs spread, your left foot planted on the ground and your right leg extended with one heel on the ground. Lean down and touch your right elbow to your left knee. Repeat this, switching sides.
  4. The Crunch (a reverse Speedskater): Place your hands behind your head. Lift your left leg as you touch your right elbow to your left knee. Do ten reps and then switch to the other side!
  5. The Couch Potato: Lift your feet slightly off the ground. Then extend your legs all the way out to be parallel with the ground. Hold that pose for ten seconds, then slowly lower your legs back to the original position. Do this ten to twenty times.

Some other tips: If you have a rubber band, wrap it around your fingers and stretch out your hands; this will exercise your wrists and forearms. Make sure to keep your wrists flat and lined up with your forearms on your keyboard or notebook. Having your wrists at an awkward position for extended periods of time may cause discomfort (and potentially, carpal tunnel syndrome).

Remember to drink water, sleep (your bloodstream should not be 20% coffee), and enjoy studying!

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