Do you really think one hour in the gym can offset a week of sitting
(in the car, at the desk..)?
by Lisa Irene
You can get small bouts of movement throughout the day, your muscles and joints will thank you! As well as your health…
Studies have shown that one hour at the gym, or of any exercise in general, cannot fully meet our healthy movement needs as we believe it should. Why? Because that hour is surrounded by many more hours spent sitting. So, that sort of puts us in a bind: our bodies need a lot of movement (preferably varied), but our lives are not set up for it. Or perhaps we just have not considered setting up our lives a bit differently in order to get more movement though out the day.
Try thinking outside the box and see if you can find some movement, rather nontraditional type exercise (read: movement) in your daily life. This could be more difficult to do than it seems, as we generally have an “exercise” mindset. We often do not count non-exercise movement as valid “exercise”. We have come to believe that exercise (read: the ‘right’ kind of movement) requires a particular scheme, specific clothing, a gym, an instructor… We also believe that we can “exercise off” sedentary behavior accumulated in our workday.
There are movement opportunities all around us.
Here are some ideas:
Cool shower. The colder the water, the more work your body has to do to heat itself. Every goosebump you get is the action of a tiny muscle, and it counts as movement.
Clothing. Do your clothes keep you from freely moving? Find clothing that allows you to move more throughout the day. Does your blouse or jacket allow your arms to reach overhead? Do your jeans or trousers allow you to squat down to the floor? Bend at the waist with that belt? Spread your toes in those shoes?
Stand in lieu of chair use. Not only will you be adding a little extra balance and mobility work, but you’re also decreasing your sitting time for the day.
Coffee. Simply walking to a coffee bar farther than your usual spot adds in a few more steps to those 10,000.
Your commute. If you take the bus, try walking farther to a different stop. Taking the kids to school by car? Try parking several blocks away from school so you all can get a little fresh air and some movement before they go inside (and sit!!). Driving to work? Again, park further away than usual. Even just a few minutes of walking can have big benefits on our circulatory system.
Take a look at your bags. We often carry things here and there throughout the day. Do you always pack them in a single bag? Perhaps hanging it off one (the same!) shoulder? Instead of loading everything into a backpack, or using the same shoulder, give your arms some work to do by holding the backpack or bag differently. Do you often carry your bag across the same shoulder? Switch it up so different muscles get used rather than always working the same ones.
Sitting at work. Try sitting at the edge of your chair – without slouching back (read: your chair does the work of holding you up instead of your abs). Cross your ankle over the opposite knee to create a stretch in your hip. If your desk and workplace allow for it, try standing up. If your office is your home, well, try sitting on the floor and setting your computer on a chair (provided it is a laptop of course).
Reach and stretch your arms. Reach and stretch your arms overhead at least a couple of times an hour to keep the circulation flowing through your pecs and shoulders. Get a stretch in your pecs using the doorway: reach up and grasp the jamb every time you pass through.
Time outside at lunch. Let your body experience the cold, the heat, the rain and maybe sometimes even the snow. We use so many external tools (heating and A/C) to regulate the temperature around us that we are no longer able to be comfortable in varied environments. Consider bringing a change of clothes to work for super-rainy days or hot days when you might sweat more than what is comfortable for re-entering the workplace.
Remember your eyes! The muscles in your eyes are moved by the distance you’re focusing on. So, when you look at something fixed, like the computer screen, that is one eye-muscle movement, whereas looking out further, like to the wall across the room, is another eye-muscle movement. Hopefully, you have a window near your desk, so you can look out even farther. Including distance in your focus will help use the full range of motion in your eye muscles, maintaining better eye health.
At home in the kitchen. Arrange your kitchen so that your most-used items require you to reach up and squat down to get them.
At home, watching a film. Try it from the floor! Sit on the floor with legs wide, opening your hips and knees after a day of sitting in a chair.
Hopefully these ideas will get the ball rolling and you will come up with more movement rich ideas to include throughout the day. Consider a post-it note on your computer to remind you to stretch your arms, or an alarm on your cell phone that reminds you to stand up and move your legs (and eyes!) around. Be creative! Have fun! Questions? Considerations? Let’s chat!