You don’t have to be a gamer or computer programmer to spend too much time sitting.
Whether you’re a strength coach writing programs for athletes, a trainer keeping up with client emails, or an executive holding meetings in the boardroom, we all end up sitting for prolonged periods. And then there’s all that time that isn’t career-related…when you find yourself sucked into binge-watching a show, like all seven seasons of Game of Thrones (my husband and I can relate), or lost on youtube for hours.
You might be thinking: “Okay, okay I sit during the week but I’m super active on the weekends.”
Sorry, weekend warriors!
A 2015 Study Published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that prolonged sedentary time was associated with serious negative health outcomes — regardless of physical activity.
So, if you’re spending multiple hours sitting daily, but then getting after it on the weekends, you’re still at a greater risk for hospitalizations, all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer than people who might be less athletic on weekends, but, break up their sitting time into smaller chunks with spurts of activity in between.
This doesn’t mean you need to play a game of tennis every hour, but it does mean you should employ the following five strategies:
Set a timer to get up every 30-60 minutes and do 1-2 minutes of standing movement.
Ideally, focus on movements that take your body through a full, functional range of motion that counters our bodies’ dominant-side tendencies. This week’s #MinuteMoFlow 33 “How to Stretch at Your Desk” shows you how to cover all three planes of motion in less than a minute.
Check breathing and posture periodically to make they’re optimal.
For instructions on maximizing rib movement and diaphragm function in a five-breath #BreathingBreak, check out my IGTV video.
Because your diaphragm is also a primary postural muscle, attaching to your ribcage and running through your hip flexors at its attachment to your lumbar spine, it has a significant influence on your posture. For a quick way to integrate breathing and posture, check out this Instagram breathing and posture exercise video I made last year.
Short rant: I think it’s crazy that most workplaces still allow (essentially “paid”) smoke breaks, especially since most employers are also paying at least a portion of workers’ health care plans. Instead—or at least in addition to—there should be mandatory breathing breaks outside or in designated areas with plants, natural sunlight, etc.
But I digress….
Move while in your chair to promote circulation and prevent muscle tension.
Varicose veins and swollen ankles are no strangers to office workers. Sitting—or even standing—for prolonged periods can stifle circulation and lead to edema and spider veins. That’s why it’s important to actively reposition your legs under and around your seat while sitting to enhance blood flow. Making simple circles with your ankles and pointing and flexing can help…and get your shoes off whenever possible! The rest of your body needs attention as well, so be sure to circles your wrists, stretch your hands, raise your arms overhead and twist in each direction periodically.
Consider switching back and forth between sitting and standing.
If you have a high enough kitchen island and work from home, you can switch your workspace to your island. Or you can opt for a convertible standing desk. Personally, I love my bamboo lap desk that I not only use in bed on lazy mornings but also during the day at my desk to convert to standing.
Take at least one 20-minute walk daily.
I believe walking is the most under-rated fat-burning, corrective mind-body exercise available to us. I say it’s underrated because too many people discount the effectiveness of a walk, thinking they always have to make it to the gym to get in the exercise their body needs. Our bodies are designed for walking—we need to walk—and I would argue it is the safest, healthiest thing you could do to break up sedentary time. Check out last week’s blog on my campaign to get everyone to #WalkEveryDamnDay.
For more on the science behind the dangers of sitting and what you can do about it, check out this article I did on “Office Yoga Zen” for CNN or this infographic I did with my friends at Happify: https://www.happify.com/hd/stress-reducing-yoga-exercises-for-the-office-infographic/
Do you have any strategies you use to keep yourself active during desk/screen time?
Let me know in the comments below.