Like so many of you, I suffer from back pain, which I keep in check by taking care of my body with daily yoga, weekly Pilates classes, and being conscious about my posture. And though my job is pretty awesome, I do spend my days in front of a computer. I love writing and editing, but I don't love sitting. I am fortunate that the SparkPeople offices have not only a treadmill desk but some standing desk options as well.
When I'm working on large projects, I've been known to spend hours and hours sitting--without much movement. As soon as I do stand up, my body feels it. So I avoid staleness of mind and stiffness of body by finding creative ways to move throughout the day.
Here's what works for me:
Consider trying these simple, quick ways to squeeze in fitness:
- Take walking meetings. A few weeks back, Coach Nicole and I had some brainstorming to do, so she suggested that we take our meeting on the road. The change of scenery and fresh air did us both some good, and we came up with some wonderful ideas. I can't wait for our next one!
- Drink more water. More water=more trips to the bathroom=reminders to get up from your desk. If your office has more than one restroom, consider walking to one that's farther away.
- Every time you finish a task, take a stretching break. When I cross something off my to-do list, I stand up and stretch. Shoulders, neck, back… whatever feels tight gets a quick stretch. Try some of these stretches today.
- Stand up while you chat. When someone stops by to talk to me, I often stand up. Not only am I looking them in the eye, but it gives me a chance to stretch my legs. I do the same thing when I'm on calls.
- Move those feet. OK, so this tip doesn't get you off your behind, but it does help you keep your feet and ankles from getting tight and sore. Mine are prone to tightness, so a few times a day, I extend my legs long and alternate pointing and flexing my feet. I do some ankle circles and toe scrunches, too. When I'm not wearing shoes, I practice "yoga feet": I plant my feet firmly on the ground, spreading my toes as wide as I can, making contact with the heel and the balls of the big toe and pinky while lifting the arches.
- Change positions. When I'm not wearing a skirt or dress, I sit in unconventional positions. I place a yoga block on my chair and sit in lotus or half lotus, cross-legged, or with my calves underneath me in hero pose. I've even been known to sit in "chair pigeon" pose, with one ankle atop the opposite knee or on the block in a squat top open tight hips. I can't sit in many of these poses for more than a few minutes at a time, so I am reminded to readjust and move into a different position. If sitting in yoga poses isn't for you, try sitting without your legs crossed (bad habit of mine).
- Remind yourself to get up. Use your phone to set an alarm that goes off every hour. Stand up, stretch, and do one lap around your office if possible. Rather than setting an actual timer, I rely on the music site I use (Pandora) to tell me when to get up. When the music times out and goes quiet, I know it's time to get up and move. When I work from home, I walk up and down the stairs to check on my cats; when I'm in the office, I walk to the water fountain, the restroom, or a coworker's desk.
- Take a breather. If I'm having particular taxing day mentally and I'm running low on creativity, I instead find a quiet space and set a timer on my phone for 5 minutes. Sometimes I sit at my desk and sometimes in an empty office. I sit cross-legged, close my eyes, and breathe. I count the length of my inhales, keeping them steady and even, then I pause and count my exhales, keeping that same slow, steady rhythm. I clear my mind as best I can and focus on my breathing. When the timer goes off--I have it set to a gentle harp--I take one final deep breath, blink open my eyes and return to my work feeling refreshed.
- Take the stairs not the elevator.
- Talk in person rather than using instant messenger.
- Park farther away or add in a walk around the block.
- Don't roll your chair. Get up and walk instead.
- Use your lunch break for workouts.
How do you find ways to get moving during the work day? Share your best tips in the comments below.