Start safely and smartly

A proper warm-up is the first step in starting any exercise program at workplace. This is a necessary preparatory measure to allow for a safe, efficient and well-executed physical activity program. Warm-up prepares the body for exercise by increasing heart rate and blood flow to working muscles, and raises skeletal muscles temperature for optimal flexibility and efficiency. Warming up before exercise is also critical for preventing injury during a workout. Several recommendations are listed below to do a warm up routine appropriately:

  1. Warm up for at least 3 to 5 minutes
  2. Do whatever activity you plan on doing at a slower pace
  3. Do dynamic exercises (e.g. butt kicks, arm circles, lunges)
  4. Use your entire body

When warm up routines are over, you are ready to follow the main program.

General recommendations

Stretching your muscles and joints is known to bring many positive health benefits, including increased flexibility and range of motion, upgraded performance in daily activities at home and work, and improved posture, stress relief and back pain (Figure 17). Specifically, stretching can help reducing muscle soreness, aches, and pains. Simple daily tasks such as bending over and tying shoes or rotating trunk during functional daily activities at work are accomplished better with flexibility. Many leading health authorities are recommending stretching as part of regular exercise routine, with flexibility exercise is recommended to be performed at least 2-3 days per week (EU Physical Activity Guidelines, 2008; Physical Activity Guidelines to Americans, 2015; WHO, 2020).

Figure 17 | Stretching improves workplace tasks

The optimal flexibility program requires conducting stretching relevant muscles and joints, including neck and spine, upper and lower body. Preferably, a good program for improving flexibility at workplace includes all the major muscle groups, tends to be a very brief routine (~    5 min) while concentrating on the sensible muscle groups of the neck and spine. The stretching programs should be prescribed for any employee who is interested in improving range-of motion or preventing health outcomes of poor flexibility (e.g. low back pain, muscular stiffness, neck ache). However, to get a result, an employee needs to be involved in a regular stretching program for at least several weeks, preferably as a daily routine or as close to that as possible. Stretching can accompany other exercise programs or executed as an individual routine. In addition, any employee can adapt the stretching exercises to fit his or her individual needs, focusing stretching routine to a particular muscle with soreness or stiffness. General recommendations for stretching exercises are enlisted below.

  1. Hold the stretching position for 10 to 30 seconds
  2. Hold the end-position to the point of tightness or mild discomfort
  3. Rest for 5 to 10 seconds between each exercise
  4. Repeat each exercise two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch
  5. Stretch at least two or three times per week at workplace

 

The following exercises are enlisted as specific stretching routines that are focused to improve the range of motion for specific body segments, including neck, spine and trunk, along with exercises for arms and legs. All stretching exercises depicted require no additional equipment or extra room, are appropriate to various work environments and easy to learn and perform at both work and at home.