How much time do you spend sitting?
If you work in an office then chances are you’re sitting too much.
Humans seem to have evolved to move throughout the day. We spent time sitting back in the caveman days. We probably spent a good portion of the day, but there was likely more movement than there is today especially for office workers.
And research is finding that our lifestyles today are hurting…no, killing us. That research has found that sitting increases all causes of death. That’s heart disease, cancer, etc. We apparently now spend half our waking hours sitting. That’s 8 hours asleep, 8 hours moving a bit and 8 hours sitting. If you work in an office, like me, you probably sit even more than 8 hours.
So what can we do about this issue?
Let’s look at some relatively easy ways to get some exercise and movement into our daily office lives.
This one is obvious and that’s why it’s first. We’ll get it out of the way.
Think back to the cavemen days. When they were sprinting in short bursts to elude predators or to chase prey they were walking. They probably spent most of their time walking. Collecting food, finding new homes, etc.
We’re wired to walk and thrive when we do it.
So just working walking into your regular day can be beneficial. Walk for ten minutes during lunch. Take walking breaks in the morning and afternoon. Walk around the building. Walk outside. Go for a walking meeting.
In one study, regular walking cut the risk of dying by 32%.
Lunges are great for your legs. They stretch the front of your pelvis. They stretch your groin. They stretch your hamstrings. They’re great. And it’s not too bad to do in the office because usually we can’t do more than a few.
But if you work it into your normal office day you’ll build up and be able to do more. Start with about 5-10 lunges and go from there. Take 2-3 quick breaks during the day for lunges. it’ll only take 30 seconds or so when you’re first starting out.
Our hamstrings are put in a bad spot when we’re sitting. Lunges, as studies show, will stretch them back out properly.
3. Neck Bends
I learned this one from a video on YouTube. It’s a great exercise from Dr. Bergman. I’ve been trying to get my 40-60 reps in each day.
Think of your brain. It’s the center for all the function of your body. If your neck gets out of alignment like what might happen from an accident or from leaning over your desk all day then your brain will struggle to connect with the rest of your body.
This exercise helps to restore proper neck alignment.
I’m going to do a set of ten of these right now…
4. Calf Stretches
Dr. Bergman has a great exercise for working your feet and calf muscles. You can definitely do this one in the office. I used to do calf stretches another way, but I’ve switched to this method. I found a step laying around that was about the size of this block and now I do some of these reps. It really does work your calf pretty good and it also seems to help with your lower back and spine.
5. Shoulder Pendulums
Here’s another one from Dr. Bergman. I know when I’m sitting at my desk that my shoulders are usually in a poor position. They are pushed forward too much when normal is to have them back in their sockets. No wonder why so many people are having shoulder injuries.
This exercise is pretty easy. Watch the video for details. It’s worthwhile.
The squat is very basic. You stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Then you squat straight down keeping your back straight and your head looking forward. You’ll feel it working your leg muscles and even some of the muscles in your back.
It’s great. In high school we used to do these all the time with weights, but you don’t need those weights. These are challenging and good for you with just your own weight. Start out with as many as you can and build up with a couple sets each day in the office.
7. One Leg Squat
Being able to stand or not stand on one leg for a period of time may be a good predictor of your risk of health issues and even death. Standing on one leg is a pretty good exercise and easy enough for doing in the office.
But you can take this one step further. You might not be able to do it for awhile and even if you can it’s a good one to practice.
It’s builds on the squat, but instead of with two legs try using one leg only. Go all the way down until your knee bends correctly. Keep your other leg sticking out in front of you. Then rise back up.
It’s tough. Try it on both legs. A little tip is to focus on one thing like the light switch while you’re doing it. That will help your balance.
8. Ball Toss
Remember back when you were a kid and you would throw a ball, any kind of ball that bounced, against walls? I used to do it all the time in school. We’d toss tennis balls against the wall and try to get them past our friends. I guess it was a version of handball or racquet ball or whatever.
Now some NFL teams even use small bouncy balls and tennis balls to help their players catch better. It seems to help with hand-eye coordination and maybe your side to side vision.
Get a ball in your office and toss it around a bit. Against the wall. On the ground a few times. Toss it with a coworker for a bit while you chat. It’s simple, but it’s a nice little exercise as long as you’re not bothering your neighbor.
9. Inch Worm
I like this one. You can do it under your desk. Your feet are very important and this exercise is great for building the correct foundation of your feet. I learned it from Esther Gokhale of The Gokhale Method.
10. Deep Breathing
Finally, deep breathing, while maybe not an exercise, is great for your health. It can lower your blood pressure. It can ease your mind. It can do a number of things. You can do it for 15 minutes each day and you can multi-task, probably, while doing it. I’ve been doing this one for a few months and it’s been great even just for slowing me down during the day.
Watch this video.
These aren’t so tough, right? I’m not talking about going to the gym and getting crazy. We simply have to move our bodies more than we normally do in the office to see benefit. And it’s important because office life can lead to early death. Hopefully you’ll try some of the exercises above. The key is to stick with them. Try one for a month and see how it goes. They should help out.