Long time sitting is one of the worst things we can do for our health.
Literally, one of the worst things.
Yet most of our workplaces, social events, learning experiences, and conferences are designed around sitting.
Sadly, even if you have a great sports routine outside of work, but spend 8h sitting every day, your health still suffers greatly.
Sitting makes us:
Detached from our body (it practically puts many of our muscles “to sleep”)
Provides oxygen for the brain and internal organs (and less oxygen is one of the main causes of dementia and cognitive decline with age)
It leads to back pain and neck pain
Is related to a range of health issues, from weight gain to risk of cardiovascular diseases
…. I will stop here, although the list could go way longer…
Apart from taking away a lot of enjoyment from using our body more actively, it is also detrimental for our health.
So what can we do about it?
The key to mitigating negative effects of sitting on our health and wellbeing are two steps:
Integrating regular movement throughout the day into our routine & interrupt sitting periods as often as we can (ideal would be every 20 minutes or so… but anything is better than nothing 😉 )
Sitting in a better way – strengthening our muscles (especially our back), and working on our posture (both when standing and sitting)
How about we break that cycle of sitting already today and work on some new, healthier habits – habits of living life with more movement?
Start by taking a moment to just ponder a bit about how much you sit daily – at work, traffic, leisure, social activities… Think, how could you do a bit less of it?
I hope the list of tips in today’s newsletter will inspire you to start MOVING and to give you ideas to shorten the periods of sitting (no matter if you are already good at it or have a lot to improve).
How to incorporate more movement and less sitting in your everyday work?
🤸♀️ Add in movement breaks into your day wherever possible
Even 2 minute breaks will be great!
Do small stretching at your desk often, when possible do a couple of quick pushups or squats, go up and down the stairs, plan yoga or sports during lunch break instead of beginning or end of the day, take a small walk during lunch – the key is to interrupt getting “stuck” in sitting position for too long.
🏃♂️ Try to change the position in which you work often
While one of the great approaches is to design an ergonomic workplace (paying attention to hands position, back position etc), the key is also to change the position often during the day.
Try moving from chair to standing to walking to sitting on a ball or disc-o-sit.
While some types of sitting are better than the others, what is the best is not getting stuck in neither for too long periods of times.
🧍 Experiment with standing desk (or treadmill desk)
While standing is not significantly better than sitting is, the advantage that it gives is that in standing position we are not as prone to “freeze” our body in a fixed position but we do a bit more of movement (shifting our weight from one leg to another etc).
Similar to previous point, the optimal mix would be to combine different positions of sitting and standing.
🧘♂️ Work on awareness of your body
One of the worst things about sitting is that it disconnects us from our body and we stop being aware of anything from the neck down.
We can mitigate that with more movement or building more of body awareness (exercises such as self check in or body scan meditation) – that way we will also be noticing better when we stay for too long in a certain position.
🧠 Reflect what are the longest periods of sitting that you have in a day and think of ways to interrupt those specific periods.
How about you, how do you integrate more movement into your everyday work?
What tips would you add to the list?
And which of these will you use already today?
How to incorporate more movement and less sitting in your everyday life?
🤸♀️ Diversity of movement
Do diverse sports, integrate new moves into everyday life, go to different workshops such as handstands, aerial yoga, dancing classes, animal flow exercises, or martial arts … also seek to move more in everyday life, and especially to move in different patterns.
💃 Plan social activities with more movement.
🏄♂️ Plan leisure activities with less sitting and more movement.
Even if you are reading or watching a movie, can you integrate a bit of stretching and movement into it?
🪑 Notice when are you sitting the most?
Think, how can you integrate other positions and more movement into those specific moments.
💬 Encourage others to move more, and ask them to encourage you.
Talk about how movement is great, and inspire and motivate each other to move more (especially on grey, rainy days or busy days, or moments of low motivation).
🚴♀️ Commute in a way that provides more movement.
🧘♀️ Work on body awareness
Pay more attention to how your body feels, and try to notice when you are sitting or are still for too long.
🧗♂️ Savour and appreciate movement.
Notice how crazy good it feels when your body moves, when it is alive.
🧍♀️Develop better posture
Try to keep the body active and upright – usually, for that we need a mix of awareness, good physical habits, and working on our muscles that support our posture.
Like Ido Portal (a great guy to learn more about the movement) says (I am paraphrasing here a bit ;):
“Why I move? Because I can. Too often people become aware of the value of movement and how amazing it is to move their body only once they lose some of it’s abilities. But can’t we appreciate it right now, while we can move and use our body?
I move my body because I have a body, and it is a sign of appreciation for the body that I was given.”
I guess the first step towards moving more is to fall in love – again and again – with how amazing it feels when we engage our body in movement.
Feeling of energy, vitality and feeling alive.
So, perhaps one thing worthy of adding to this long list of tips is: remind yourself what you LOVE about movement, and how great it feels when you move your body. Savour that feeling, and strive to enrich your life with more of it.
Moment to reflect:
How are you appreciating all that your body can do today?
How are you savoring the joy of movement?
What is one small thing you are planning to do today to sit a little bit less?
As always, small actions count for more than deep learning – however, if you would like to explore more about the detrimental effect of sitting, and how to work against it, check a great book Deskbound for deeper exploration.
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Are you a trainer or facilitator and you want to learn more about the topic and how you can apply it to your sessions?
Check out our post on Trainers Toolbox on how to add more movement to your workshops!