15 May 2024

Invisible exercises for the workplace:

Rapidly relaxed - relaxation training "made in Karlsruhe": self-care and stress reduction help you slow down

Headaches, teeth grinding at night, tension in the shoulder, neck and back muscles: the severity of stress-related complaints is as individual as people are. Especially in increasingly hectic times, with accelerated work processes and many daily challenges, it is important to be resilient and resistant. Mindfulness and self-care are no longer exotic tips that you get from esoteric sources; the introduction of occupational health management in many companies has brought exercise and sport into everyday working life.

The Karlsruhe Relaxation Training Programme ket was founded in 2010 at the Karlsruhe University of Education and has been anchored at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology's Institute of Sport and Sports Science since 2020.

The ket team develops, implements and evaluates practical body education, stress management and relaxation programmes that are suitable for everyday use under the quality label SeKA, which stands for Self-Instructive Body Awareness Programmes.

The programmes and exercises are tailored to the various target groups - children and young people, adults, senior citizens - in different settings such as nurseries, schools, companies and retirement homes.

Small relaxation tricks in the office

Photo by Prof Dr Norbert Fessler with black background
Prof Dr Norbert Fessler, developer of the Karlsruhe Relaxation Training. (Picture credits: private)

In everyday working life, it is not always possible to retreat to a quiet place during breaks and create a balance for body and mind with targeted exercise. The exercise breaks introduced in many companies are also offered far too rarely to be effective in the long term. What's more, many people are reluctant to do exercises for themselves in front of their colleagues.

Prof Dr Norbert Fessler, who has long been a committed ambassador for exercise and health promotion in science and practice, has created the Karlsruher EntspannungsTraining, an exercise system with a compilation of almost invisible exercises: The individual exercises last from a few seconds to a maximum of two minutes and can be performed individually at any time and in almost any place with ease.

Interspersed in your daily work routine from time to time, such exercises have a variety of effects: they help with physical strain, which is particularly common in seated workplaces. And they lead to mental freshness and energy, which increases concentration, boosts performance and increases motivation in the work process. This is because the conscious bodywork that accompanies the exercises directly counteracts stress: The breath flows more calmly and deeply, muscle tension is released, the nerves are calmed and the mind is cleared. In the best sense of the word, this is a benefit for both employer and employee.

As physical stress can affect the whole body, the exercises are categorised into ten body parts: Feet, hips, chest, back, shoulders, neck, arms, hands, jaw and especially eyes. They make it possible to work with the body in a targeted manner where personal everyday stresses and strains settle, weaken the body and cause chronic degenerative illnesses in the long term.

All exercises have been trialled with hundreds of test subjects and tested for suitability for everyday use, including in a company setting. The effectiveness on psycho-physiological health parameters has been proven in extensive evaluation studies.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, let's go

A woman with a black T-shirt and brown hair in a plait tilts her head down to stretch her neck. The background is completely white.
The neck muscles have to work hard to hold the head against gravity. Targeted exercises strengthen and relieve the strain in the long term. (Image credit: Private)

The neck is particularly strained by the posture at the PC or when frequently looking at the smartphone - the neck muscles have to work harder to hold the "heavy" head against gravity.

The exercise is simple, efficient and unobtrusive. Resistance strengthens the neck muscles and relieves them at the same time.

This is how it works: Sit upright. Slowly lower your head as you exhale and bring your chin towards your chest. Now let your head hang loosely for two to three breaths. Straighten up again with the next inhalation. Feel the stretch in your neck and imagine that the air you breathe flows into the stretched neck muscles. Once you have done this a few times - preferably with an open window and fresh air - you will be more at one with yourself and your body again.

Info box:

Companies can book individual coaching sessions on these topics at the ket Academy, but much of the material is also available to download free of charge. There are even freely accessible exercise sheets that you can download directly to your mobile phone using a QR code and have the exercise instructions spoken to you.

By the way: You can find many more relaxing exercise programmes for everyday life here: https://entspannung-ket.de/seka-schriften/

You can find out more about Ket here:


Book tip:

Rapidly relaxed. The best minute exercises to combat everyday stress

Nine holistic short programmes against tension, for mental freshness

Prof. Dr Norbert Fessler, Trias Verlag, 14.99 euros