Desk workout designed for 'flex time'

Finding time for a workout in the middle of a busy day can be a bit of a stretch - at least, that's what the designers of a new fitness program are hoping.

The Alberta Centre for Active Living has launched a series of online videos aimed at adding a little flex time into the daily routine of office workers. Lindsay Wright, a certified fitness instructor and a Be Fit For Life co-ordinator at the University of Alberta's Provincial Fitness Unit, helped develop the Stretching @ Your Desk videos.

The light yoga and stretching program is meant to fit comfortably behind the desk of any office-dweller, she said.

"We had to think of things that you could do at your desk, and be comfortable doing if someone walked by. A lot of these exercises, someone might not even notice if they saw you."

Most of the exercises can be done in front of your computer monitor, with no need for special clothes or equipment.

People who work at desks all day tend to stay in one position for a long time. The exercises in these videos are designed to counter the effects of sitting at your desk. And, while the stretching regime isn't designed to be an actual workout, it is designed to get workers moving.

"It's this new kind of work ethic, where people just do not get away from their desks," said Wright. "They work through lunch; they don't take breaks. So, we really wanted to create some movements that force people to make changes in their body position."

Available both in English and French, each stretching video takes about as long as a coffee break.

"A lot of people find it difficult to find ways to be active outside of their workday; some people find it hard to build physical activity in to their leisure time," said Judith Down, director of the Alberta Centre for Active Living. "And we know that in the workplace, a lot of adults are spending a large portion of their day sitting in front of a computer. These videos are just something you can do for your body and your posture. They really can help make you feel a bit better in the middle of your day."

The benefits go beyond posture and flexibility, said Wright. "Taking a break from your task to get up and move your body a little bit can also do a lot to improve your energy and focus for the rest of the day," she said.

The videos are part of the Alberta Centre for Active Living's Physical Activity @ Work website.

Source: University of Alberta


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