Like most people you probably sit a lot throughout the day, more often than not at a desk in front of a computer. I bet you are sitting right now as you read this post. How does your body feel – do you have muscle tension, discomfort or pain in the low back area? Do you feel stiff in the hips and thighs when you eventually stand up and move around? Do you suffer from headaches or feel tense and tight in the neck and shoulders? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to get off your butt and move!
Incorporating more movement into your day is a very achievable goal but it can sometimes be challenging in today’s world of the 3 C’s: computers, commuting and couch-time. Usually, when someone suggests we move more, we think of exercising by going for a run, lifting weights, or attending a boot camp or yoga class.
The reality is that moving more throughout your day or adding short mini-work outs in different ways is much easier than trying to carve out an hour or more from your busy schedule for a trip to the gym.
Try these 10 easy ways to move more during your day and create a better body while you work.
#1: Give Your Feet Some Love
Take your shoes off so you can wiggle and stretch your toes and walk shoe-less in the office. Most shoe designs restrict the natural movement of your feet and heeled shoes of any height are a major detriment to the health of your knees, pelvis, hips, and spine too. Any time you can spend without shoes on is time well spent! And you can step up your foot care with a self-massage by rolling a tennis ball under your foot. It will not only feel amazing but also improve your circulation and stretch the intrinsic muscles of your feet…did I mention it feels amazing!
#2: Stand Up
Every time your phone rings stand up to take the call and talk (a hands-free head set can make this much easier!). While you are standing up do some arm, leg and hip stretches and a few squats too. The person on the other end will be none the wiser and you will feel so much better.
#3: Take the Stairway to Health
Skip the elevator and take the stairs. Don’t cheat by only going down the stairs; be sure to walk up as well. To get more out of your stair climb, add in a little pelvic list with each step by pressing down strongly through your back leg as your front leg goes to step forward. This will engage your lateral hip muscles, which are weak in many people – your hips and butt will love you for it!
#4: Go the Distance
Select a parking space as far away from a building entrance as you can. Or better yet, park a few blocks away from your destination and walk the rest of the way. Most of us don’t walk much and this is a simple way to add more steps and take you beyond 10,000 a day.
#5: Walk and Talk
Make your next meeting a walking or standing meeting. Our corporate culture of sitting around a boardroom table can be a tough nut to crack but all it takes is one person (you!) to start making a change before others eventually feel the benefits and buy into it. Not only that, moving more can improve your creativity and brain function.
#6: Give Those Peepers a Break
Cross-train your eyes by looking away from your computer screen for a couple of minutes a few times an hour and focus on the farthest spot away from you, ideally out a window if at all possible. The ciliary muscles in your eyes, which bring things into focus up close, will appreciate the break.
#7: Blitz It Out
A 3-4 minute movement blitz is a great pick-me-up when your energy starts to fade or you need to clear your mind to focus better. Combining body weight exercises with short bursts of high intensity movement will get your muscles working, heart pumping, and oxygen flowing. Just be sure to use good form and only include movements that are appropriate for you. Here is one example to get you started.
3-Minute Anywhere, Anytime Movement Blitz
30 s running on the spot
30 s squats
30 s push ups (option: place hands on a desk or counter)
30 s jumping jacks
30 s mountain climber (option: place hands on a desk or counter)
30 s squats
#8: Stretch It Out
Once every half hour stand up, lift your arms wide overhead, open your hands and fingers as wide as possible and gently bend your hand backward at the wrist. You’ll feel an amazing stretch from your finger tips all the way down to your chest. Bonus: it takes less than one minute!
#9: Use a Dynamic Workstation
Set up a standing workstation, not to use for your full 8-hour work day but on and off for 15-20 minutes at a time throughout the day so you regularly change your body position from sitting to standing. You don’t need anything fancy, stacking books or boxes on top of a desk or counter can work just fine.
#10: Offer Your Seat
If you take public transit, give your seat to someone else and stand for all or part of your trip. Not only will your kindness make somebody’s day, the bumps and stop and go movement on a bus or train provide a challenge to your body and brain to stay balanced and upright – just don’t go hands-free for this one, safety first!
You might say that some of these suggestions won’t work for you and that’s ok. The key is to try a few different things and figure out what does work – if it’s easy and you like it, you will do it more often and have better long-term success.
I’d love to hear about what you do to move more during your work day so please leave a comment and share the wealth of good movement!