May edition / By Camilla / May 4, 2023
For many of us, work means hours and hours of sitting, with rare pauses of movement. While it’s easy to dismiss this as a routine part of adult life, it is becoming a growing concern, and more and more people are having physical complaints.
When I’m giving workshops for companies on related topics (such as posture, stress resilience and ‘moving more’) I almost always begin by a quick poll. I ask the participants to raise a hand to show how many have pain in the lower back. I ask how many have discomfort/tension in the upper back, shoulders & neck on a regular basis. So many hands go up.
It is so ingrained in our society – the sitting I mean. We do it in front of computers or the TV, we sit when traveling in cars, trains, and on planes. The staggering amount of time many of us spend being sedentary – up to 15-hours a day if we work in an office —can lead to problems both inside and out. It’s a major health problem that can cause all kinds of damage to the body, and even lead to many chronic diseases.
Think about it yourself, so many of our activities (not just work-related) are spent sitting. If we add it all together, we spend a whole lot of hours, every day (!) sitting down.
An example for my own life. I remember back in the days, in one of my corporate jobs. Working in another town than where I lived. I sat down to have breakfast. Then I sat on the tram to get to the train station. I sat on the train, a one-hour commute, to the town where I worked. Then I spent 8+ hours sitting at work (in meetings, in front of the computer, while being on the phone). To get back home, the same thing (sitting on the train, then the tram), and finally at home, after my long day (of sitting) I sat down to have dinner, and ended the day, sitting in the sofa to watch some TV to relax. LOL. And then bedtime, before repeating it all again the next day. Sounds familiar?!
How come it affects your body?
Humans are built to stand upright. Your heart and cardiovascular system work more effectively that way. Your bowel (and digestive system) also functions more efficiently when you are upright. The muscles are important in regulating things like blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels (to mention a few).
When you are physically active, your overall energy levels and stamina improve, and your bones maintain their strength.Even your brain function more optimally when you are active (more on that important topic another month).
But, when you sit for long, your muscles are inactive, and don’t have the opportunity to function optimally. To be clear, it’s not just the ‘obvious’ muscles being still, it is also the ones we might not think about as much, like the muscles connected to our digestion, a lot of those internal muscles are also affected by movement.
To keep it short, we are built for movement.
How can you save your health from the dangers of sitting?
I’m not saying that you need to get to the gym more often. One hour of exercise a day will not fully compensate the ‘damage’ done to your body if you continue to sit still for up to 15-hours a day.
It’s simply not enough to be active or move at only one specific time of the day. We need to be mindful of moving throughout the day, several times, in addition to exercising.
If you’re not getting enough activity in your day, it’s not too late to turn it around and gain health benefits in the process. Everything counts. Lots of small little things sprinkled into your day matters, and begins to add up. This is something I focus on a lot (!) both with yoga therapy clients, and in the corporate workshops I give. Anything is better than nothing.
The MAIN TRICK is to scale back both your sitting and how many consecutive minutes you spend sitting still.
Still uncertain what yoga therapy actually is? Let me explain, and try to make it clearer, watch this video in ENGLISH or if you prefer the SWEDISH version
Ideas to bring more activity into your day
- Walk or cycle, and leave the car at home
- For longer trips, walk or cycle part of the way
- Stand up while on public transportation
- Take the stairs and walk up escalators
- Place a laptop on a box or similar to work standing
- Take a walk break every time you take a coffee or tea break
- Walk to a colleague’s desk instead of emailing/calling/texting
- Take a short lunch-walk outside
- Take up active hobbies
- Stand up and move during TV advert breaks
- Set a reminder to get up, to move a bit, every 30 minutes
- Have a daily dance party (at work if you’re brave enough)
- Stand or walk while on the phone
- Create movement-breaks during your day
- Do more walking meetings
Every minute counts
The goal is to just break up the sitting with some movement. Does five minutes every hour seem like a stretch? Even a little bit of something, like one minute of walking (on the spot) makes a difference.
If you want to get your heartrate up a little bit you might want to follow along in this video from the NHS in the UK (scroll down to the bottom for the basic warm-up video). You might want to save the link on your devices to easily have access to it whenever you have 5-minutes to move.
Want me at your company?
To encourage more movement & building better stress-resilience – then reach out. I still have room for a few more workshops/lectures before the summer, or let’s plan for the fall. Read more on my webpage, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s discuss what can be a good match for your company.