A lot of jobs these days require long stints of sitting in front of a computer or some sort of screen. Most of us then enjoy some downtime in front of a movie, tv show or scrolling through social media. While in short bursts none of this is that bad, when it makes up for 90% of our day, sitting on our bums surrounded by technology… it can raise some pretty undesirable health issues.
A lot of people don’t feel like they have the ability to work less and have less computer time but still get everything done. Hopefully soon, we as a society, will create more balance in these aspects of life; however, for now let’s look at how to function better and create better habits in the most manageable way: walking.
Breaking up your work day with a half an hour - 45 min lunchtime walk in the sun (soaking up some Vit D) will not only help get your blood flowing and oxygen circulating, reducing stiffness in your body, it can also boost productivity more than you can imagine.
This can be done in smaller 5 - 10 min stints and performed 3 - 6 (or more) times a day. This is a much more manageable way to take short breaks and not lose your work flow but get things moving and mobile. Aiming for 3 x 10 min breaks a day- 2 walks and 1 stretching/ mobility flow can help reduce chronic neck/ back pain, avoid blood sugar levels rising (as your bigger muscles will use glucose as an energy source when you move), and drastically improve your mental health.
A Harvard university study states ‘In more than 5,600 women followed for five years, reducing sedentary time by one hour per day was linked to a 26% lower risk of heart disease. The hour of non-sedentary time didn't have to occur all at once. Short, light-intensity interruptions to sitting were just as effective.’
The movement you do doesn’t need to be anything drastic, although getting out in the fresh air and sunshine will help you reap lots of other benefits while you move (two birds, one stone)…the good news is that something as simple as vacuuming around the house to “break up all that couch surfing time can make a difference in mood”, as Jacob Meyer’s (director of the Wellbeing and Exercise lab at Iowa State University) early research has found. “Scores of previous studies confirm that being physically active boosts mood, lowers anxiety and improves sleep quality.”
Once you have mastered the lower intensity bursts of movement, try adding some bodyweight exercises in there for a few of your movement intervals and then try working up to moving for a few minutes every hour. More is actually better in this case and if you can map out the time for 10 squats, 10 push ups and a 1 minute plank every hour in your work day- it will add up, trust me!
There really are endless reasons why moving more is better for us as humans. We were made to move, and in a world where we have created so many comforts for ourselves (don’t get me wrong I love a good, or sappy/corny movie as much as the next person) finding a balance of movement beyond our 45 minutes - 1 hour of dedicated ‘gym time’ is crucial for our overall health, longevity and quality of life.
Lets be honest, a few 5 - 10 minute sections throughout the day of getting up and walking around, doing cleaning or chores (if at home), stretching/ yoga or even higher intensity exercises is achievable for most of us… I would get up to check the pantry or go the toilet that many times in 1 hour when working from home. It is a matter of remembering how many benefits there is to these small increments of moving your body and getting more circulation and then prioritising your physical and mental health as much as productivity… which in turn will actually make you more productive … win win!