My client Anita has fitted a small number of exercises into her working day to help with posture, getting some blood flowing and feeling the benefits of moving. Also, just as importantly in my book, as a bonus she is having a break from concentrating on work stuff. Anita says –
“Having a largely sedentary job and lower back problems as a result of lots of long-haul flights, so again sedentary, I have now factored in a number of short breaks to my working day to help with both my physical and mental well-being.
Every hour or so, I have a 10-minute break where I run up and down the stairs 4 times and do a short programme of stretches to counter the fact that I am sitting down all the time and working at a laptop, which causes its own problems with posture. Lisa has given me this little programme, tailored to my needs, as part of our invaluable weekly training sessions.
The stretches include kneeling cat cow, I Y W, [make a capital I shape with your arms, then a Y, then a W, aiming to pull your shoulders back and down while keeping ribs down and breathing normally, holding for 5-10 seconds in each pose], lean away upper body stretch (pictured) whole body side stretch [stretching up with one arm, leaning away from a wall while pressing the hips out] and the doorframe chest stretch [standing in a doorframe, arms up about chest height, take a step through to feel the stretch]. I also stand against the wall and try to touch it with the back of my head, keeping my chin level. This helps with posture.
These short breaks were unthinkable at the beginning as my job is rather full on and I have great powers of concentration and can work and sit at my laptop for 3 hours or more without moving. To take 10 minutes off every hour or so (15 minutes in the article I read, which gave me the idea) was a non-starter, but having done this for a few months, I find that I am more productive and not so sore at the end of the day.
It is not a quick fix, but it is certainly helping physically and mentally and, although sometimes on a particularly busy day these exercises don’t happen, I generally find that I am able to factor them in.”
Thanks Anita. Good job; keep it up. (Research also shows that 3 minutes of light movement every hour of sitting has positive effects on blood lipids (fats) and blood pressure, in the long term). Although it might seem daunting at first, it is definitely beneficial to form a habit of breaking up sitting time. I have read that even people regularly going to the gym / exercising vigorously for an hour a few times a week do not counteract the hugely negative impact of sitting for the rest of their day. Frightening but true.