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Make your downtime active with wait training


A big chunk of our days is spent waiting—in line for coffee, for a plane to board, for your turn at the doctor, the list goes on and on.

All this waiting can feel like a waste, but it doesn’t have to be.

No matter where you’re stuck waiting, use these moments to stay active and boost your overall health. Simple exercises and stretches during this downtime can improve circulation1, reduce stress, and enhance mindfulness about your posture.Here are some science-backed exercises and stretches you can easily incorporate into your waiting periods, whether sitting or standing in any environment. Let’s dive into the art of wait training.

Seated movements and stretches

When to use:

  1. Ankle circles: Sitting for long periods can cause blood to pool in your legs, leading to swelling and discomfort. Ankle circles are a great way to keep the blood flowing.
    How to do it: Lift one foot off the ground and rotate your ankle in a circular motion, first clockwise and then counterclockwise.
  2. Shoulder rolls: Extended periods of sitting often lead to poor posture and shoulder tension.2 Shoulder rolls can help alleviate this tension.
    How to do it: Sit up straight and begin by slowly rolling your shoulders forward in a circular motion. After a few rotations, switch to rolling them backward.
  3. Seated leg lifts: This exercise engages your abdominal muscles and improves circulation in your lower body.
    How to do it: Sit up straight and lift one leg until it is parallel to the floor. Hold for a few seconds and lower it back down. Repeat with the other leg.
  4. Wrist stretches: Typing away on a laptop or scrolling endlessly on your phone can strain your wrists. Regular wrist stretches can prevent discomfort.
    How to do it: Extend one arm in front of you with the palm facing up. Use your other hand to gently pull back on the fingers, stretching the wrist and forearm. Hold for 15-20 seconds and switch sides. You can also incorporate wrist rolls in both directions.

Standing movements and stretches

When to use:

  1. Calf raises: Calf raises are excellent for improving circulation and strengthening the lower legs.
    How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Slowly rise onto your toes, lift your heels off the ground, hold for two seconds, and lower back down.
  2. Single-leg balance: Balancing exercises enhance stability and core strength.
    How to do it: Stand on one leg, keeping the other leg slightly bent or lifted. Hold this position for as long as you can maintain balance, then switch legs.
  3. Hip flexor stretch: Sitting for extended periods can tighten your hip flexors.3 Stretching them can help maintain mobility and reduce discomfort.
    How to do it: Stand up straight and take a step back with one foot. Bend your front knee, keeping your back leg straight, and push your hips forward. Hold for 15-20 seconds and switch sides.
  4. Chest opener: A chest opener stretch counteracts the hunching posture often adopted while sitting.
    How to do it: Clasp your hands behind your back and straighten your arms. Gently lift your hands away from your back to open up your chest. Hold for 15-20 seconds.

Practical tips to stay active while waiting

  1. Set reminders: Set alerts on your phone or watch to remind you to move every 30 minutes. This is a great way to stay mindful of your movement and also encourages you to integrate some of these exercises into your daily routine.
  2. Make wait time count: Whenever you’re stuck waiting, seize the opportunity to sneak in some of these movements. They’re subtle and can be done practically anywhere without drawing too much attention.
  3. Stay hydrated: Drinking water can prompt you to get up and move more frequently. It also supports overall health and can help prevent stiffness and discomfort.
  4. Mind your posture: Stay mindful of your sitting or standing posture. Keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and avoid slouching to prevent strain and discomfort.
  5. Get guidance from your Coach: Open the Freeletics app and select from our variety of recovery and stretching routines. These straightforward routines feature step-by-step instructions crafted for optimal recovery and enhanced flexibility—ideal for relieving stiffness and discomfort. These can be handy to have on your phone for easy access to instructions and reminders.

Let’s recap

Incorporating these simple exercises and stretches into your waiting periods transforms idle time into opportunities for physical activity and stress relief. Not only will this improve circulation and reduce the risk of discomfort, but it will also help you maintain a healthier posture and a more mindful approach to your daily routine. Bonus points – when you feel better, you move better, and ultimately perform better.

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[1] Thijssen, D. H., Dawson, E. A., Tinken, T. M., Cable, N. T., & Green, D. J. (2009). "Retrograde flow and shear rate acutely impair endothelial function in humans." Hypertension, 53(6), 986-992. doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.109.131508

[2] Straker, L., Smith, A., Bear, N., O'Sullivan, P., & de Klerk, N. (2011). "Neck/shoulder pain, habitual spinal posture and computer use in adolescents: The importance of gender." Ergonomics, 54(6), 539-546. doi:10.1080/00140139.2011.592599

[3] Behm, D. G., & Chaouachi, A. (2011). "A review of the acute effects of static and dynamic stretching on performance." European Journal of Applied Physiology, 111(11), 2633-2651. doi:10.1007/s00421-011-1879-2