Over 2000 Hours per Year
That’s what you spend at work. Most of it at your desk.
I hope you love your work. I want you to be able to do it happily for as long as it feeds you.
There is nothing wrong with a desk job.
Except that it can wreck your body and destroy your health. —>>> But it does not have to!!!
If you will begin to make changes in how you sit, not sit, and move during those 2000+ hours per year, you can turn this around. The time you spend at work can actually improve your health and posture, or at least do it no more harm. This is so totally worth doing, whether you are already working out regularly, or if you haven’t started that yet. (Regardless of physical activity level, increased time sitting corresponds to an increased risk of mortality.)
The Bad News: Your Desk Job and Commute are Killing or Crippling You
This not hyperbole! There has been an explosion of information lately on the internet about the damage done by sitting. The research is out, and the jury is in! Perhaps you have heard;
“sitting is the new smoking”
The research is out, and it is grim, how many ways and how badly sitting breaks us down and makes us more prone to the diseases that are killing and robbing people over 50 of their vitality, mobility, and freedom from pain.
You can keep your job, AND stay healthy. Regular exercise is key. But what you do while at work is just as important.
And contrary to what your inner resistance to change is likely telling you, these things will actually increase your productivity, not decrease it, after the very short adjustment period when you are integrating changes and new habits, or setting up your new workstation, or reminder app.
The internet is packed full-to-overwhelming with these tips and techniques. My recommendation is that you DO NOT try them all at once!!!
DO get very interested in making changes, one or two at a time, that feel good and right for you.
I am going to give you my top 5. Don’t even try to do all of these all at once. Pick one or two that feel doable, NOW. When you reach 80% consistency with it, for two straight weeks, add another.
My Top 5 Moves to Stop the Damage of Your Desk Job (a starter kit)
1) Un-Round your Lumbar Spine
This is really important. This one is linked to the other suggestions here. This one is huge though, in how it is anatomically linked to many postural perversions and pains.
It means to sit up straight, but there is a lot of nuance, and benefit, to doing it “right”, and strengthening your core will help a lot.
2) One Leg up, The Other Knee Down
As a trainer, I know that almost everybody with a desk job has short/tight hip flexors and hamstrings.
This one move applied regularly can go a long way towards un-doing these posture-poisoning, pain-causing, health-hobbling conditions. (In fact, over times, this move, combined with other working positions, performed 5-10 minutes per side, 2-4 times per day, can be as effective as a professionally-prescribed corrective stretch and exercise program…and you can do them “on the clock” at work!) -stay tuned for a whole blog post on the how, the why, and the power of this and similar working positions.
3) Fix your Workstation(s) Height(s)
This is critical. And it should say ‘…workstations’. You should have at least 2 or 3 different places or ways that you can sit, stand, kneel or 1/2-kneel, while you are working. (for example, when you talk on the phone, could you stand up, and put your foot up on a chair, desk, or cabinet to stretch? You will think better and sound brighter on the phone) And in each and every work position you should be able to easily hold your body in a way that feels good and does not strain any muscles or degenerate any joints or posture points.
If you really want to nerd-engineer it;Use this very cool diagram and tool to help you get this right.
Do this, this week. It can cost a lot of money. Or, it can be ‘hacked’ for very little, if you are willing to put some thought and time and Google into making it right. Do it. This is time and money well spent! (this is your body, this is your life!)
Get a bottle or glass that you like, and drink two to three liters (most of a gallon) of water or herb tea during every work day. This will make your brain work better, keep your tissues healthier (degenerative disc is largely dehydrated disc!), and much more. The extra bladder work will assure you get a few walks in as well.
5) Intall a Reminder on Your Computer TODAY
None of these will work if you don’t remember to do them REGULARLY. Take the time to install and set-up one of these free apps.
And when it pings you to do something, DO Something. If it says “walk time” and you can’t at the moment, at least stand up and 2 five squats, or change positions, or put a leg up or adjust your spine back to neutral.
These devices are free, effective and absolutely essential for breaking the break-you-down habits, and building the build-you-up ones.
The cumulative effect of these little things is a rage against the decline and damage that sitting has ravaged on you.
Start These at-work changes NOW, Start Functional Strength Training SOON!
You know you need to exercise more than you do. You may even have an idea that functional strength training(especially after 50) is a powerful ticket to health and “long-quality”-living long with quality: with mobility, independence, and lack of debilitating pain and illness- into your 80’s and 90’s. (If you have hit 50, plan to get this going in 2016!)
But until you get that ball rolling, you can do a lot during your workday, where you work now, to stop the daily damage, and even start to reverse it. Get VERY interested in this stuff!!! (your “long-quality” depends on it!)
Review of key inspirations/motivations;
-The risk and damage of sitting all day is Big and documented in white paper.
-There are numerous(many more than named here) things you can do at work, on the clock, to reduce or reverse this damage.
-Many of these things have been shown to increase productivity
-This kind of body-awareness and self care can be a gateway to strength training, or other movement practices. OR it can hugely support your current practices and routines.
-Speak out at work, ask for a new stand-up desk, or hack your own. Or risk “feeling weird” by taking squat and stretch breaks and changing how you sit, etc. ~It is better to feel a bit weird than to be dead or have diabetes or degenerative disc or…