We all know there are enormous benefits from leading an active lifestyle but sometimes it’s hard to find time when your job requires you to sit; or so you may think. So how can you get more movement in your day?
One way is to add micro movements to idle times, at home or ‘locked’ in at your desk. We spend around 9 hours a day sitting at desks, watching TV, eating, commuting and so on. Are you sitting reading this blog? There’s tonnes of research showing that movement gets your blood circulating, improves muscle and cardiovascular strength which has a positive effect on health, productivity and creativity: the things we need to lead a happier and healthier life.
UK government stats from March 2022 show that physical inactivity is the cause of 1 in 6 deaths annually, costing around £7.9 billion a year. We’ve become 20% less active since the 1960’s and that number’s predicted to rise to 35% by 2030. That’s shocking. Is it human nature for us to wait until the cumulative effects of an inactive lifestyle hit us and then think, I wish I’d been more active? That doesn’t sound like the way forward to us, and, as our mission has always been to make sedentary work a thing of the past, let’s do something about it. They don’t have to be grand gestures, it all adds up and you can start small.
A large factor of inactivity is desk-work. How many of you have been in the zone and your lower back starts to ache or your creativity starts to ebb. A few more minutes you think, I don’t want to lose my train of thought. Two hours later, you’re in incredible pain and find it difficult to move. So, how can you get more movement into your day whilst at your desk?
- Having the right set up is key, so seek ergonomic advice. We all have different needs and ergonomy for a wheelchair user will be different from someone 6ft tall. There’s some great ‘desk-ercises’ here from Lucie O’Shaughnessy at Bupa.
- Sit-Stand desks and accessories. Yes, we know we might be biassed, but they can have a hugely positive impact on your health when used properly. Set interval goals to ensure you’re frequently moving your desk height.
- Find an ergonomic chair that keeps you moving. There is no one posture to keep your back and spine healthy; find a chair that prompts movement of all kinds.
- Heard of the pomodoro technique? Simply put, you work for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break to physically move. This gets the blood circulating and refreshes the brain.
Do you hop out of bed, into the shower, sit eating breakfast, sit on your commute, arrive at your office or kitchen table, and sit down? Many do but there are micro moments we can carve out to add some movement to our mind and body. What are you doing whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, aimlessly scrolling your socials?
- There’s many health professionals who manage micro movements into their day, like Dr Rangan Chatergee. There’s a great video of his movements while the kettle boils, in his pyjamas. Check out his podcast, Feel better Live More.
- Standing still on one leg while brushing your teeth builds muscle strength and balance.
- CARS (controlled articular rotations) before you get dressed. It can be a quick 5 minutes.
- Waiting for your partner to finish getting ready? Get more movement in your day with squats, lunges, neck stretches, shoulder rotations.
How long do you spend commuting? Have you wondered why you can sit all day at work only to board the train and scurry for a seat because you’re so tired. Sure, some of that is the brain power you used at work, but it’s also a result of inactivity. Inactivity is fatiguing.
- Is there a lift? Take the stairs. Walk and talk, it doesn’t have to be a sit down meeting every time. Park further away and walk to the office.
- If you’re on public transport and able to, try standing for some or all of your journey.
- Going long haul on a plane, train or bus? Before you travel where long bouts of sitting aren’t avoidable, add a few stretches or CARS before, during and after your journey.
- Great article here from Dr Emily Kiberd on seated stretches you can do to get blood circulating.
At Lavoro our core message has always been to make sedentary working a thing of the past. We are passionate about wellbeing and helping people lead more active lives whilst working. If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy discovering 5 new ways to improve workplace wellbeing as well as 3 ideas to make your workplace more sustainable.