Researchers are now saying that sitting is the new smoking. Yes, our sedentary lifestyles are actually as bad for us as smoking. It can be overwhelming to think about how much we sit and how to prevent or undo the damage of sitting. Many of us work in an office and spend most of our day sitting in front of a computer. However, research is now telling us that even if we go to the gym for 30 minutes or an hour before work, it’s not enough to overcome the effects of sitting all day.
So what can we do?
We’ve talked about getting small bits of extra movement into your day. Park in the farthest parking spot so you have to take those extra steps to get into the office and back to your car. You can schedule walking meetings or standing up and walk around while you are on the phone. You can go for a walk during lunch, and take a walk with your family after dinner.
You can also incorporate other movement into your day, like getting up to dance for a one-song dance party, or playing a game of tag with your kids. Jumping rope or on a trampoline, yoga or tai chi are also good forms of movement.
Dr. Sean Cailteux, a doctor of chiropractic at Your Wellness Connection who specializes in posture and low-back pain, offers another suggestion for movement. Because of his focus on posture, he is also interested in getting us out of our seats, and he explains a simple routine for us to do.
- Get up out of your chair every 20 minutes.
- Stand up straight.
- Put your arms up over your head and make a Y.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together for a few seconds.
- Come down into a W, do the same thing.
- Out into a T, same thing. Squeeze your shoulder blades.
- It’s not about getting your arms back, it’s about squeezing the shoulder blades.
- And then come down into two L’s.
- To complete the routine, do 5 squats, then sit back down.
To do a little acronym to remember that, it’s ‘You Want To Live.’ You want to live, you need good posture. Good posture is so important for health. If people will set a timer to go off every 20 minutes, then get up and do that little stretching routine, it’s a great thing we can do that is a very small change.
Another exercise that Dr. Cailteux recommends for movement and improving posture is called Wall Angels.
- Stand against the wall.
- The back of your head should touch the wall, your shoulder blades should touch the wall, and your bottom should touch the wall.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your arms straight out to the side, like the “T” in YWTL,
- Bend your elbows to make a 90 degree angle, as if you are making a football goal post.
- Press your elbows and hands back into the wall and hold the pose for one minute.
- Take a break for a few seconds, then repeat the pose for another minute.
- After a quick break, repeat the pose for a third time.
Why It Helps
We can use these exercises to get up and move throughout the day, which is very important to our well-being. They require a wider range of motion than some of our other suggested movements like walking, and can build stronger muscles.
In addition to movement, posture is important to our spinal health and the health of our nervous system. Our nervous system is the information superhighway of our body, and needs proper treatment in order to function well. Paying attention to our posture is one of the key things we can do to help our nervous system function properly. These exercises are simple ways that can help us improve our posture which in turn not only helps our nervous system, but also helps with back and neck pain, organ function, and self-confidence.
We often incur obstacles to incorporating movement. With the YWTL routine, you might think doing that every 20 minutes is going to take up a lot of work time. However, a complete cycle of this routine (including the squats), and only takes 43 seconds. So in less than a minute, you can strengthen your posture, get in some movement, and give yourself a tiny mental break. (You’ll probably come back to your work refreshed and will be able to be more productive!)
The other obstacle might be what your coworkers think. There are two options: first, if you have an open office and you feel extremely uncomfortable doing this routine by your desk, you can go into the bathroom or some other corner of the office where you can do this on your own. The better option though is to share the word and get your coworkers to do this with you! You can help yourself and the rest of the office get healthier and build a tribe of supporters.
Try these small changes to move more, improve your posture, and increase your wellness.