As we all know, there is a vast amount of research linking exercise and decreased heart disease.  In our graduate school and even some therapist’s undergraduate training, we learn ACSM’s guidelines on physical activity in order to educate our patients.

But, there is a growing body of research that says this may not be enough to prevent heart disease.  How can physical therapists be a lead role in prevention of the above through general physical activity?

I was flipping through a magazine and came across a good article I want to share.  Findings are showing that more hours that you sit in a day is related to increased heart disease risk regardless of how much you “exercise”. This is basically linking exercise (i.e. 30 min moderate intensity 4 days a week) and sitting (i.e. desk job) in relation to heart disease. In all, we just need to be more active.  (I don’t have the link to the studies themselves, but the article here is well worth your time.  It has plenty of other statistics too)

Just generally, I think this is good information to share for all those desk jockeys that arrive with shoulder/neck/back problems.  Most citizens (and even myself when I first read it) have no idea.  Bottom line, our bodies just weren’t designed to sit for 8 hrs/day.

I figured I would take a moment to share a few exercises that I prescribe to my patients for shoulder/neck/back pain to perform at home, but also at work if they have a desk job.  Not all of them get the patient out of the chair, but I find they are still very helpful.

These exercises should be supplemented with standing/walking around the office if on phone, reviewing paperwork, etc.; rather than just sitting at the desk.

Pearl: I usually push to do the above exercises once/hour, which should take less than 5 minutes.  I think that is a very reasonable goal.  Not only can these exercises relieve discomfort in the back/neck/shoulders, but can it also decrease heart disease risk?

Think too much time? My opinion, if employers get mad, then tell them it usually takes 3-5 minutes to smoke a cigarette and offices still offer ‘cigarette breaks’, why not ‘get your bottom up out of the chair break’?

There are PLENTY more exercises that can be prescribed.  I listed my favorite few. I would like to hear what you recommend and if you have any other suggestions.


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