October 19, 2018
Health & Fitness
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How To Stay Active And Be Mindful Of Health At Work

Maya Pottiger
Maya Pottiger's picture
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May 2, 2018

Sitting is the new smoking, they say.

Most working Americans, especially in our increasingly digital society, are stuck at a desk and behind a computer during the eight-hour workday. While responding to emails or working on projects, lengthy periods of time can pass, leading to extended periods of inactivity.

However, there are easy ways to get some simple exercises in throughout your workday.

“Finding ways to sneak a little bit more [exercise] in can be huge,” said Joe Bocek, the co-owner of Park Fitness. “Some activity is better than none.”

Here are 10 things to easily incorporate into your workday to ensure you’re staying active:

1.  Get up and move once an hour. Set a timer on your computer, phone or watch to make sure you get up and move once an hour. That could mean walking to the water fountain, going up and down a flight of stairs, or taking a lap around your office. The point is to get up and get your blood flowing.

2.  Sit on the front half of your chair. Sitting on the front half of your chair makes you more perched, allowing you to sit up taller and straighter. “While sitting at a desk, it is important to draw the shoulder blades together and down to reduce rounding in the shoulders,” said Dana Opalinsky, a trainer at the Severna Park Community Center. “Draw the navel in toward the spine to activate the abdominal muscles. This will take some pressure off the lower back.”

3.  Chair yoga. There are simple yoga poses you can do while seated at your desk to make sure your muscles aren’t getting stiff or sore. Seated backbends and seated twists will open your chest and stretch your lower back. “This is a good way to refresh and get extra oxygen to your brain,” said Heather Wehnert, co-owner of Heat Cardio Club.

4.  Use a bathroom on a different floor. When you’re sitting for hours, your blood is pooling, your heart isn’t escalating and nothing is moving, said Devin Conway, the director of fitness at RockWell Fitness. By using the bathroom on another floor of your building, you’re getting in some stairs and extra steps during the day.

5.  Stay hydrated. We all need that caffeine kick in the morning, but there are many benefits to transitioning to water. The more water you drink, the more times you’ll have to get up to refill your water bottle or go to the bathroom, which means more time up and moving during the day. Conway suggested putting three or four rubber bands around your water bottle and removing one each time you fill it to track how much water you’re consuming and how much you have left to drink each day. For each cup of coffee you drink, drink three cups of water to help flush out your system, stay hydrated and avoid a buzz, Wehnert said.

6.  Prepare healthy meals. Eating a healthy, well-prepared lunch is key to both your mental and physical health. Avoid pre-packaged foods and eating out. “If you put good things into your body, you will feel better, have a more positive outlook and be more sharp during the day,” Wehnert said.

7.  Crucifix stretch or standing T. For those unfamiliar, the standing T, or “crucifix stretch,” has you stand tall with your arms held out parallel to the ground. Turn your palms forward so they are facing the same direction as your head. Then, pull your arms back, opening up your chest. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Sitting at a desk often means sitting in a rounded, hunched forward position for an extended period of time. “Poor posture can cause long-term headaches, and the muscle imbalances that result from poor posture can change the entire body mechanics,” said Christi Darcy, a NASM certified personal trainer at the Severna Park Community Center.

8.  Glute squeezes. While sitting in your chair, clench your glutes hard for five-10 seconds at a time. Repeat the action a few times in a row. Research shows that good glute health promotes decrease in back pain, Bocek said.

9.  Breathing exercises. The Sama Vritti breathing exercise can help reduce stress, calm the mind and help someone be more present, Opalinsky said. To practice this, breathe in and out through your nose for equal time. For example, breathe in for four seconds and then breathe out for four seconds.

10.     Use the stairs. An easy way to get your heart rate up and get in more steps during the day is by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. “At breaks, if your office has a stairwell, go up the stairwell, walk down the hallway, go back down the stairwell,” Bocek said.

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