We all need to sit at some point during our day. But some of us do it much more than others. If you’re among those who sit at a desk for the majority of the day, this article is for you! Even if you don’t have a 9-5 desk job, check in with yourself and really notice how much time is spent sitting. How much time do you spend in your vehicle? Watching TV? On the internet? Probably more than we’d like to admit! So apart from getting a standing desk at work, here are 10 ways in which you can get some movement into your day. They will take work, they will require commitment, but trust me, your body will love you for it and you will be much healthier and less prone to pain and injuries.
- Shoulder Passes – keep a broom stick or even a belt in your office. Hold it with your hands about shoulder distance apart, palms facing back, and draw the arms up and around to the back of your body. Aim to keep the elbows straight, so if you’re really tight, widen your grip and go slow. Do 5-10 passes. Next, start with the stick or strap behind you, holding it with the palms facing forward, and draw it up and around to the front of the body. See video demonstration.
- Set an alarm to get up and move – This is so easy and yet we don’t do it. Program your phone or computer to remind you to get up and move. Every 1-2 hours at the very minimum, you should be getting up for a quick stretch or walk around the office. Use this time to do some of the exercises suggested here, or just get up, stretch your arms over head, circle your hips around, do the hokey pokey, and get back to work! 😉
- Deep Squats – This is one of my favourite things to do! I’m in love with squatting. It’s such a basic primal move that we should all be able to do. But unfortunately that’s not the case for many people. Sure sitting is almost like a squat, except you’re not using your muscles, gravities doing all the work, and you’re not going past 90 degrees. We need to get low! Sink your booty to the floor, open up your hips, flex your ankles. If you can’t get all the way down into a nice deep squat, just slowly work on it. Make it your goal. In the meantime hold onto your desk to help you down so you don’t fall backwards, or just go as low as you can without support. Once you’re there, try holding it for 30 sec, and up to several minutes at a time. Aim to do this a couple times a day.
- Band pull aparts – this is a great exercise for your posture. Get yourself a basic exercise band, hold onto it with your hands at about shoulder distance apart or slightly more narrow (this depends on the band tension). Draw your arms up to shoulder height. Keeping your elbows locked, pull the band apart by squeezing the shoulders blades together, taking the arms wide, until the band comes in towards your chest. Do 5-10 reps, 3 rounds. See video demonstration.
- Take an Eye Break – There are many muscles that control our eye movement, and they get tired of all that screen time! Take a moment and go to a window. Look out at the furthest distance possible and relax your eyes as you gaze comfortably at the furthest thing you can see. I like to try to find a really tall tree to look at. I learned this one from the amazing Katy Bowman. It’s super simple and will give your eyes a chance to relax and refocus.
- Stability ball chair – Use a stability ball instead of an office chair. You don’t have to exclusively do this, but it’s nice to have one that you can alternate with your regular chair. Stability balls encourage your core to do more work and will keep your pelvis and hips happy. Just make sure you get the right size for your height. You want to be able to sit on it with your hips and knees at approximately 90 degrees.
- Roll your feet – this is probably the least conspicuous so your co workers won’t think you’re completely nuts, lol. Purchase a basic massager ball, there are all sorts of ones available now. Keep it under your desk and take your shoes off every now and then to enjoy a pleasant foot massage. Our feet are extremely important. Firstly, they hold up our entire bodies! And secondly they are the starting point of one of our deep fascial lines. Fascia is a thin layer that covers all of our muscle tissue. When the fascia is tight, our muscles are tight. By rolling out your feet you can actually loosen the tension in your hamstrings, glutes, and back!
- Walk on your breaks – Sure we need to eat our lunch/snack too, but you can take half your break to eat and enjoy the other half with a brisk walk. It doesn’t have to be long, just get outside for 10 minutes in the middle of the day, and it will do wonders for your mind and body.
- Bathroom aerobics – OK, this one may seem a bit crazy, but if you really want to take things to the next level, head to the bathroom for some privacy and knock out some bodyweight exercises! Try some squats, push ups against the bathroom counter, lunges, high knees, or even some jumping jacks! If you have your own private office this can also be done in there. Just lock your door first 😉
- Yoga/Fitness classes – Obviously it would be great for you to start or end your day with a fitness and/or yoga class. But just remember , one hour of physical activity a day does NOT make up for an entire day of sitting! So even if you’re an active person in that you attend regular fitness classes, if you’re then sitting all day long, you’re really only 4% better than a completely sedentary person. It’s more important to consistently move throughout the day then it is to do a 1 hour class followed by a day of sitting. Keep up your fitness routine if you have one, and by all means begin one if you haven’t yet, but don’t be mistaken in thinking you’re all good for the rest of the day.
All of the above tips can be applied to anyone, desk job or not. We are ALL sedentary a little more than we should be. So let’s get up and get movin’!
Take care and BE WELL!