Most of us will inevitably spend many hours sitting at a desk and using a laptop. Be it because it's part of our job or because we like to chill and play games or watch a movie.
Even as a trainer I get to sit for a bit more than I'd like, but it's a necessary evil to bring you my best.
So, if sitting for so long is difficult to avoid, how can we make sure we are active enough to maintain our general health and avoid those dreadful back pains?
You've heard it before, from me and other people as well. Everyone knows it: walking, cardio, strength training and good nutrition are the key to solving our problems. But how can you do all this when you're sitting 90% of the time? Work is never ending, and when it ends, we just want to lay on the couch, play games or watch TV.
Many times I wonder: at what point did we go from a free roaming spirit, running around, playing in the sidewalk or at the park and dancing to all the songs in the world, to this person that gets out of bed to sit on a car, gets out of the car to sit on a chair and back to the car to get home and sit on the couch?
That would be a much deeper discussion than this one but I'd be super happy to chat with any of you who has insights into it!
Even though as humans we were designed to move (like hunting and working in fields), we have evolved to be still most of the time, be in the same place for hours, in the same chair or couch. I'd dare say we are hardwired to stay put.
And how can we be asked to move more when all our childhood and adolescent years all we heard was to sit still (school, church, the dinner table...)? Another point I'd love to chat more about!
Fortunately, we have also started to re-learn how we do things.
For once, we got standing desks, and mini walking pads to put under them.
We are re-learning how important it is to re-incorporate movement in our lives and we are choosing to walk, cycle and take the stairs more often than not.
Even in cities not designed for anything else than driving, like Dubai, a new infrastructure is being developed with more public squares, walking and cycling paths and water fountains.
And many companies (not all but quite a few) have been and continue working on wellness benefits for their employees, such as access to fitness apps paid by the company, quarterly fitness challenges, more physical team building activities like paintball and rowing, and even offering yoga at the office.
You may still be thinking: what can I do myself to add movement when I work long hours at the office or from home? Work needs to be done, deadlines to be met, it's not as simple as stopping and leaving everything in favor of movement... Or, is it?
Let's start with the biggest question: Why would you want to move more? What's the purpose of movement for you, be it formal training or just some exercise we do every now and then?
Some reasons I've heard from other clients include:
- I don't want to run out of breath when playing with my kids
- I hate the back pain I get after long hours at work
- I want to feel more energized during the day
Your reason, your WHY, that's yours and yours only. You can share it or keep it secret, but it's always good to have it as a guiding light for those moments when you're not sure you want to move.
Back to the WHAT. What you'll see below are just a few options you can use as ways to move more, depending on your likes, environment and time. These are things other of my clients have tried and have worked for them.
Go ahead and try these if you feel they will work for you.
But remember: you are not them. You can find your own ways, come up with your ideas.
We are far more likely to do something more often if it is our own idea.
So go for it! No idea goes unheard (and this is a message to your inner critic)
Ideas for when time is limited and workload is not:
Other simple ideas for everyday life:
And some for when you find that time to exercise: (I talk more about the importance of strength training and cardio in this other article)
No matter what you choose to do, for general health, just moving more and more often is the most important takeaway.
Bonus! Ideas to move on holidays: