Q: How do I keep active during a work day, when most of my time is spent sitting down?
Before I get started, I want to introduce a new segment on the site. It’s called Weekend Questions, where I take any questions that have piled up over the course of the week — whether through emails, comments, questions I see from other Internet forums or blogs, or from people I know that I invited to check out the blog — and answer them using what I have gone through personally. I am much older than most of my readers are. Similarly, I have been doing sports and outdoor hobbies for a large part of my life, beginning really when I started high school way back when. So I feel I have a pretty good grasp to talk about things like this and I hope to share that knowledge with you all, encouraging an active day-to-day lifestyle on the way as well.
To answer, I think the most important part is the little things you can do. Obviously at work, you would not be able to do a legit workout. Preventing bad habits, however, is much more manageable and is the first step.
Staying active #1: Prevent bad habits
So if you are at work sitting 8 or more hours a day multiple days a week, that is a very sedentary life (unless you workout or do any other form of exercise in your down time). That is 40+ hours a week sitting still and over time, you will naturally want to feel comfort as you sit. This leads to bad posture, slouched position, and a mindset that you are to sit at your desk without break.
The best thing you can do to prevent these from happening is to get up every hour or so and catch a break. The length of the break truly is up to you, so long as you physically get out and rest from sitting in your chair. I find there are numerous ways to remind yourself to get up these days. I personally found it best to set a vibrate-only alarm on my phone for every hour; I did this for a couple of weeks until it became second-nature for me to give myself a break from sitting. Another way, though it may be more inconvenient, is to hydrate yourself a lot. That way, you literally have to get up to use the restroom. I do not recommend going all out, but even just watching how much water you drink (most people do not drink enough) should entice you to drink more and conversely use the restroom a little more frequently than normal, which is about twice in an entire 8 hour shift.
Staying active #2: Do light stretching in the morning
Another easy one: when you wake up, do some simple stretches. I stretch each arm, my shoulders, my neck, my back, and each leg for around 10 seconds each, which equates to roughly a minute and a half. Throughout our busy days, we have very little time. But I am positive everyone has a minute and a half each morning to stretch their entire body. I feel much more awake after a stretch than after a cup of coffee. For coffee-lovers, you obviously still can do both and feel much better off!
Even better, you can complement your quick stretches with massage rolling. Pick up a massage stick and roll your major muscles one by one. The whole process would take probably around 5 minutes in total. My muscles feel instantly soothed and ready for the day afterward, though.
Staying active #3: Prioritize workout time
I am not going to advocate going to the gym at this moment, since I know first-hand how tough it can be to put that slot of time in our day. I do not go to the gym and lift weights or use any of the exercise machines. But I do still workout in a sense by doing a variety of outdoor activities 4-5 times a week. These can range from a small 15 minute jog to a game of croquet with the grandkids. A “workout” can be defined all sorts of ways for everyone. My definition of it, however, is simply to get your body moving and more active than it is had you not done that activity. For example, walking around the block purposefully (ie. to gain the benefit of walking, not simply to get the mail) is a workout because I otherwise would be sitting in my chair reading a book.
Make time to workout. Even 15 minutes of one activity can be much more beneficial to your overall health than 0 minutes of activity every day. Make time over the weekend to do something fun with friends or family. Go to the park and play frisbee or walk your dog! Send me an email if you need ideas and I will try to work one out with you.
That is it for this week’s Weekend Questions. Like I mentioned above, feel free to send us an email. I honestly want to connect with my readers and by emailing us and having that discussion, we are improving parts of our lives.