3 exercises for beating the afternoon slump

Is an afternoon slump slowing you down? Often, right after lunch, a midday burnout starts to set in. Your head feels as heavy as a bowling ball, your eyes are burning, and crawling under your desk for a nap starts to sound enticing. Does this scenario sound familiar?

If your workday has you worn out, power up your mind and body with these fatigue-fighting, energizing exercises:

Door frame stretch
A chain reaction occurs when your body is slouched over a desk for an extended period of time. Poor posture causes the shoulders and chest to collapse inward, which prevents the lungs from expanding fully. Common symptoms of strained breathing are drowsiness, dizziness and lethargy.

Upper-body stretches help optimize your oxygen intake and strengthen the intercostal muscles lining the ribs. In addition to breathing quality, this stretch helps relieve tension headaches caused by an achy neck and stiff shoulders, as well as bolstering underworked muscles around the scapula.

  • Stand in a doorway with your hands lightly gripping the interior frame of the door.
  • Take a deep breath and step forward, allowing your chest to open. Keep your chin and gaze up. You should feel slight tension on the arms and chest. For a deeper stretch, extend your arms completely, pressing your wrists or forearms into the frame.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds.

  

Neck and side stimulator
When was the last time you stretched sideways? The majority of our movement patterns are centered on such front and back activities as walking, cycling or swimming. While these exercises are successful at strengthening our anterior and posterior muscles, they do very little for the lateral portion of our body.

When these muscles are neglected, they stiffen, atrophy and are prone to injury. Try this invigorating neck and side stretch:

  • Position your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart with knees slightly bent.
  • Bring your hands up so your fingertips are grazing your ears. Pull your elbows back, open your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Take deep breaths as you hold for 10 seconds. Relax and lower your arms so your hands are resting on your hips.
  • Slowly extend your right arm diagonally overhead as you bend at the waist to the left. You should feel a slight pull on the outer right side of the torso. Hold for 8-10 seconds then repeat on the opposite side.

Total body booster
Movement keeps your joints lubricated and improves circulation. By increasing your heart rate and circulation, you can maximize your brain activity and feel-good endorphins, and burn a few calories, too.

This total-body exercise can be modified for beginners or those with balance restrictions by using a chair for added support.

  • Start by standing tall with feet hip-width apart.
  • Keep your body weight in your heels and simultaneously hinge back at the hips while you swing your arms overhead until you’re in a squat position.
  • Hold for two breaths, then lower your arms back down to your sides as you push through your heels returning to the starting stance. Repeat 20 times.

Give your body the boost it needs by shifting, standing, and stretching throughout your workday.

Ashley B. Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.