Office Exercises and Stretches

We’ve received a request for some simple stretching exercises as a follow-up to the Office Work Breaks for a Healthy Mind and Body article. So here’s some more information:

If you find yourself sitting in front of a computer for most of your work day – or even home hours, and feel fatigue, back ache, neck ache, eye strain, headaches or discomfort, then it’s possible that:

  • your chair needs to be adjusted so that your feet are flat on the floor or comfortably positioned on a footrest.
  • your thighs may not be parallel to the floor, placing you in a cramped position, or being too stretched out, removing the support of your legs and causing your back to hunch.ย 
  • your keyboard is not directly in front of you, requiring you to turn or twist slightly.
  • you are tensing your shoulders rather than keeping your upper arms relaxed and close to your body.ย 
  • your forearms are either raised or dropped low to access the keyboard, when in fact they should be parallel to the ground when your fingertips are touching the middle row of the keyboard.
  • the screen of your computer is too high or low.
  • you aren’t taking enough breaks to rest from one position.

Here are some simple exercises that you could incorporate into your day (or night) to alleviate strain.

But first, I must add: slowly and gently is the key. Fast and jerky movements will only exacerbate the situation, and possibly lead to an injury – exactly what we wished to avoid in the first place!


  • Every 10 minutes or so look away from your computer screen into the distance.
  • Gently move your eyes to the left and then the right, keeping your head still. Make sure you relax your face, neck and jaw when you do this. Repeat this exercise five times.
  • Gently move your eyes up and down, keeping your head still. Again relax your face, neck and jaw as you do this. Repeat five times.

If you’re serious about improving the health and functionality (sight) of your eyes, a great place for eye exercises is Your Eye Exercises.


  • Raise your eyebrows as if surprised and then relax. Repeat five times.
  • Slowly and gently tense and then totally relax your jaw. Repeat two times. (be careful not to dribble when you totally relax – I’ve done this a few times myself – not the best look at the office!)

Just as each part of the body affects another part, jaw tightness can create a number of challenges, including eye strain, neck ache and headaches. Look at relaxing and loosening your jaw when you can.


  • As you breath in, slowly turn your head to the left. Pause for a moment. As you breath out turn you head back to centre. Repeat this turning your head to the right. Repeat entire exercise five times.
  • As you breathe in slowly tilt your neck so you look at the ceiling. Pause for a moment. As you breath out slowly tilt your head to look at your chest. Repeat entire exercise five times.


  • Gently and slowly tilt your head to the side as if you are going to rest your left ear on your left shoulder. Only go as far as is comfortable. Bring your head back to centre. Repeat with your right ear to your right shoulder. Repeat entire exercise five times.
  • Hang arms relaxed at sides and gently and slowly roll your shoulders forward. Repeat five times.
  • Hang arms relaxed at sides and gently and slowly roll your shoulders backwards. Repeat five times.


  • With arms relaxed at your sides, breath in as you gently and slowly stretch your shoulders back, bringing your shoulder blades closer together. Relax, breathing out. Repeat five times.


  • Stretch both arms straight out in front of you with relaxed hands. Rotate both hands at the wrists around in a circle (clockwise) five times. Repeat, rotating hands at the wrists in an anticlockwise circle five times.
  • Stretch both arms out to the sides with the palms of your hands straight up perpendicular. Make small circles with the palms in a clockwise direction. Repeat ten times. Repeat exercise making small circles with the palms in an anticlockwise direction. Repeat ten times.

Incorporate exercise into your daily routine as this will help to strengthen support muscles and alleviate tension.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

Comments (10)

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  1. Cecilia Murray says:

    These exercises are good to know. They could save back problems.

  2. Richard Michell says:

    These exercises are handy for office based persons but what I really need is something similiar for people who operate road plant. Legs and ankles stiffen up and when they alight from the plant on rough ground, they injure ankles or knees. Any chance of someone out there coming up with such leg or back exercises?

  3. admin says:

    Hi Richard – thanks for the comment. I’ll see what we can resource. Cheers, ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Helen Harpas says:

    Re:Operators of road plant.
    I have found that teaching people isometric exercises for their thighs, self mobilisation of the patella femoral joints and simple ankle exercises prior to alighting the vehicle has helped.
    Similarly there are exercises such as pelvic tilting and lumbar and pelvic rotation exercises done in sitting that assist with the back issues.
    These only take a few seconds each to do and I have personally found them useful after travelling for extended periods of time in a car.

  5. admin says:

    Hi Helen – thank you for the exercises! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. admin says:

    Scott, one our subscribers says that his previous employment (before managing warehouses and Safety Officer) was that of a delivery driver. He found that by making fists with his toes keeps the circulation in the lower legs and feet active. Scott also recommends rolling the foot in a circle to help keep the ankle free. Thanks Scott ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. admin says:

    We’ve had several people recommend checking out the Qantas site for exercises that would be ideal for the people working on road plants, to help avoid knee and ankle injuries. You can find the exercises at:

    Special thanks to Chris, Debbie and Angela for letting us know about the link. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Matt says:

    Hi all,

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a company that supplies posters for the workplace that describe useful stretches? I am after some that address the types of stretches useful for a production line / manufacturing environment.


  9. Andrea says:

    Although this article is by now slightly dated the advice including all exercise is very helpful in office based jobs and should help to decrease neck pain and general tensions.

  10. eye exercises…

    Thanks for the quality article. I bookmarked your website and will definitely be back for more!!! Keep up the good work please….

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