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This content was originally published August 2017 and has been updated April 16, 2020.

Whether you’re working from home or just hanging out at home as we all shelter-in-place, you may be sitting more than usual. We’ve updated our list of 8 Pilates-based stretches and created an easy to follow video you can add to your daily routine. We hope that this serves as another tool you can add to your list of strategies to keep moving and stay healthy at this challenging time. If you’re ready for more than stretching, you can visit our YouTube Channel for a variety of workout options or register for one of our more than 50 weekly livestream classes. Keeping our community strong and healthy is a top priority and we continue to look for ways we can help you be well.

3 image collage of Elaine Economou stretching

Alleviate the Adverse Effects of Sitting

Do you spend the better part of the day sitting at a desk, in a car, or on the couch? Research shows that sitting, and a sedentary lifestyle in general, poses a host of health risks. Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative has studies the effects of sitting and made headlines back in 2015 for his warning that “sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”  

MOVE Wellness Studios has put together a series of stretches that we recommend for daily practice, or a least for those days when you simply must sit for long periods. These stretches will help you become more mobile and flexible, counteracting the stiffness of sitting at a desk. Also, it’s important to get up at least once an hour and walk around for ten minutes.

CHEST OPENER – Clasp your hands behind your head.  Release shoulders away from ears and lift sternum and widen elbows feeling the chest stretch open.  Release forward to upright and repeat several times.  Pull abs in and focus on lifting to avoid compressing low back.

FORWARD FOLD – Keep a soft bend in the knees and slowly roll spine forward towards your toes. Release neck, shoulders, and back, and let gravity take over. Roll back up, one vertebrae at a time.

TRUNK ROTATION – Plant feet on ground shoulder-width apart, and rotate your trunk from side to side. Relax the neck, upper body, and knees. Keep toes pointing forward and abs engaged. Rotate for 10-15 seconds.

CAT/COW – Start on all fours or leaning over a chair or desk. On an exhale round back into “angry cat” position. Articulate spine back to neutral imagining each vertebrae moving one at a time.  On next inhale, drop belly and lift chest up into “cow”. Repeat 5 times.

pilates cat stretch

HIP OPENER – Stand with one foot two feet or more in front of the other and lunge forward bending front knee.  Forward foot stays flat on floor and back foot shifts to ball of foot.  Bring hips forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your hips. Engage your abs and slightly tuck your tail to engage glutes and deepen stretch.  Hold for three long breaths.  Repeat on opposite side.

LEG HUG (FLOOR) – Lie on your back and bring your knees into your chest. Breathe deeply and relax your lower back into the floor. Hold as long as needed.

TRUNK ROTATION (FLOOR) – Lie on your back and bring your knees into your chest. Gently let them fall to one side, keeping your back neutral and contacting the ground. Turn your head to the opposite direction from your knees. Hold for 10-15 seconds.

Pilates Shell Stretch

SHELL STRETCH and CHILD’S POSE – Kneel and rest back onto your sits bones. Draw your abs in and actively tuck your tail in order to lengthen and stretch the low back. Then, gently relax into the stretch and focus on breathing and releasing tension.


If your body is suffering the effects of too much sitting, we can help you keep moving with an unlimited livestream class membership. Contact us today to learn how Pilates, GYROTONIC and other MOVE Wellness Studios classes can help you improve mobility, flexibility and strength.