It’s standard advice that people who sit for long periods of time at work should take regular short breaks to get up and stretch. There are even programs that will nag you to take a break when you’ve been using your computer for a long stretch.

That’s good basic advice. But this week I challenge you to go further: take up a regular exercise that stretches your capabilities. Stretching regularly increases your flexibility, so that you can reach further when you need to.

What’s true of the body is true of the mind, too. Writing software takes an extraordinary amount of mental flexibility. It’s helpful to do small, self-contained exercises that are just beyond your comfort zone. Lately I’ve been working through the exercises on There are many similar sites that will give you practice problems of varying difficulty (e.g. or

And remember that after stretching, it’s equally important to cool down and relax. So stand up, stretch, stare blankly out a window, look at the scenery.

In what ways do you want to become more flexible?