As little as 15 minutes of exercise per day can ward off the negative impact of remaining sedentary

By Olivia Glauberzon | December 2010

Sitting at your desk for eight to 10 hours a day may be a necessary part of running a financial advisory practice, but all that inactivity can increase your risk of obesity, hypertension and heart attack.

As little as 15 minutes of exercise per day can ward off the negative impact of remaining sedentary, fitness experts say. In fact, you can even get in a workout without leaving your desk. Here are some suggestions to help you keep fit if you can’t leave the office:

> Stretch Your Limbs. Sitting at a desk all day can cause your body to become tense, especially when you find yourself hunched over in intense concentration for hours.

Taking as little as five minutes a day to stretch your limbs can improve your mood, says Nelson Beltijar, a personal trainer and private consultant with Toronto-based VillaBelt Consulting Services. “Stretching can increase your range of motion and body temperature,” he says, “which triggers [the release of] endorphins and makes you happier.”

You can do the following stretches at your desk to improve your blood circulation.

Start with neck circles. Tilt your chin down toward your chest, then move it across your chest, toward the left shoulder, back to a neutral position, then to the right shoulder and back.

Next, loosen your shoulders by scrunching them up toward your ears, then move them downward.

Stretch your back by interlocking your hands in front of your chest and pushing outward with your palms out. Hold at the maximum stretch for about 10 seconds.

Stretch your back and legs by placing your feet straight out in front of your chair and leaning forward to grab your toes.

These stretches break up the monotony of constantly sitting in the same position, Beltijar says, adding: “Stretching is crucial to combating back pain you might get from sitting the same way for prolonged periods.”