We sit frequently throughout the day—commuting to work, sitting at our desks or in meetings, looking at our phones, watching television. Changing your body position during the day helps prevent the typical slouching posture of rounded shoulders. And sitting in one position for long periods can lead to pain and back injury, preventing you from moving well functionally.

Here are four exercises to open up your chest and shoulders and help prevent the typical slumped sitting position. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds throughout your day, particularly if you’ve been sitting for a long time.


  • Stand tall with your feet together or hip-width apart, legs and core engaged.
  • Root down through your legs into the four corners of your feet and lift up through your sternum.
  • Roll your shoulders back and down, and rotate your palms forward as you broaden your collarbone.

Upward-Facing Dog

  • Start in a high plank and proceed to Downward-Facing Dog.
  • Slowly bend your elbows and lower your hips to hover at the bottom of a push-up.
  • Press down through your palms and pull your chest forward and up, letting your hips and thighs hover above the floor. Keep your gaze high.
  • Lower your chest to the bottom of a push-up, allow your knees to drop and come up to sit cross-legged.

Side-Extended Angle

  • Start in a wide-legged stance with your left toes pointing forward and your right foot turned out.
  • Place your right elbow on the base of your right thigh, bend your right knee, and lift your left arm up and over your left ear, palm facing down as you reach over to your right.
  • Press into your left heel and lengthen through your left arm, reaching from your left heel through your left middle finger.
  • Press down through both feet, straighten your right knee and lift your left arm overhead as you return to the starting position.
  • Turn your left leg out and your right foot to point forward. Bend your left knee and place your left elbow on the base of your left thigh, lifting your right arm up and over your right ear, palm facing down.
  • Reach from your right heel through your right middle finger.
  • Press down through both feet, straighten your left knee, and lift your right arm up and overhead to return to the starting position.

Reverse Tabletop

  • Sit on the floor with your hands just behind your hips, your palms flat on the ground and your fingers pointed toward your feet. Keep your knees bent and feet on the floor about hip-width apart.
  • Press your hands and feet down into the floor and lift your hips into a tabletop position, lifting as high as is comfortable. Keep your head and chin tucked back slightly to keep your head in line with your spine.

Photo credit: FatCamera, Getty Images
GIFs: Mark Kuroda, kurodastudios.com
Model: Jennifer Nasab, 24 Hour Fitness