With many employees now working remotely, the importance of understanding ergonomics and movement during the workday has become vital.
Many of us sit behind desks for hours on end, which can lead to a host of problems, including neck and back pain, carpal tunnel, and worse. Thankfully, we can do several things to combat these issues and add more movement to our workdays.
Besides taking time out of your day to hit the gym, there are plenty of other ways to get those endorphins going.
Here are six easy ways to add movement to your workday
Let’s start with something anyone can do right at their station – a good old-fashioned stretch. We recommend working no more than one hour at a time before taking a brief pause to move your body.
During your break, get up from that comfy chair and do some basic stretches. Reach your arms overhead, side-to-side, and front-to-back. You can also roll your shoulders. Many desk workers also forget their legs since they’re not active, but don’t forget to give them a good stretch too.
Stretching your lower back is also important since it tends to get tight from sitting. You can do this by placing your hands on your hips, arching backward, or laying your stomach on the floor and pushing up into a backbend. Back at your desk, you can do neck rotations every 30 minutes to keep your neck from getting stiff.
Why It Works
Studies show that stretching not only does good for the mind, but is also essential for maintaining flexibility and preventing injuries. When we sit for prolonged periods, our muscles tighten up, and we can start to feel stiff.
Increasing blood flow and oxygen to our muscles by stretching helps reduce tension and fatigue. It also helps improve our posture since many of us tend to hunch over when we sit for too long.
About once a day, it’s important to invert your spine and reset your posture. This can be done
by simply hanging from a bar for a few minutes. Hanging allows gravity to decompress the spine, which gives you a chance to realign your posture and get rid of any kinks that have built up throughout the day. It also helps improve grip strength and open up the shoulders, which tend to get tight from sitting at a desk.
To hang, find a bar or something similar that you can grip easily with both hands. Some pull-up bars can be installed in any door frame, making them easy to use at home. Start by hanging with your arms straight and your feet off the ground. Thirty seconds should be enough. You can also try different variations, such as Bent Knee Hangs, L-Hangs, and Reverse Hanging.
Why it works
The ‘Dead Hang,’ as it’s called, is a great way to release tension in the spine and decompress the discs. It’s also an excellent way to improve posture since it helps lengthen the muscles in the back and open up the shoulders.
Next, let’s take a look at floor sitting. This technique is a great way to open up the hips, which can get tight from sitting in chairs all day. Floor sitting helps align the spine and takes pressure off of your lower back.
Find a comfortable spot on the floor or on a cushion and sit with your legs crossed. You can lean against a wall or a pillow for support if you need to. You can also try different variations, such as the Half Lotus position or the Burmese pose.
Why It Works
Floor sitting has been practiced in Eastern cultures for thousands of years for leisure and mindfulness. When sitting on the floor, we’re forced to engage our core muscles to maintain balance. This helps improve our posture and makes us more aware of our bodies. Additionally, floor sitting simultaneously stretches your knees, ankles, and hips.
There is no true substitute on this list for the mental and physical benefits of a good stroll. Walking is one of the best ways to clear your mind, loosen up your body, and get some fresh air. It’s also a great way to get new perspectives and ideas.
If you’re feeling stuck on a problem, sometimes all you need is a change of scenery. Walking can also help you get out of your head and be more present. Walking is something that can be done anywhere, at any time. You don’t need any equipment or special clothes. Just go!
The hardest part about walking is often just getting started. You might be dreading going down the stairs or uninterested in the light rain outside. But once you get going, you’ll find that it’s not so bad after all.
As for the length and intensity of your walk, there are no hard and fast rules. Just do what feels good for you. If you’re short on time, a ten-minute walk can be just as beneficial as a longer one. If you’re feeling energetic, go for a long walk or even a jog! The important thing is to listen to your body. You shouldn’t be sore or out of breath when returning to your workstation.
Why it works
Walking is a low-impact form of cardio that has many benefits for the body, including improved heart health, better blood sugar control, and increased weight loss. Studies have also shown that walking can improve mood and cognitive function. Note that cycling, rollerblading, and even skateboarding have similar benefits.
Don’t worry; we’re not asking you to sacrifice your lunch break for a 1-hour high-intensity workout. But some exercises you can do at home will help improve your fitness and energy levels. These exercises don’t need any equipment, so you can do them anywhere, anytime.
We recommend doing a few reps of these as often as you can throughout the day:
- Push-ups: Get the blood pumping to your upper body and strengthen your arms, chest, and shoulders
- Crunches: Strengthen your core muscles and improve your balance
- Jumping jacks: Get your heart rate up with this simple but effective cardio move
- Squats: Improve your leg strength and flexibility
- Lunges: Another great exercise for leg strength and balance
You don’t need to do these exercises until failure; just a few reps will do the trick. The goal here is to do them as often as possible, even if it’s just a few at a time.
Why it works
Think of the joints in your body as hinges. The more you move them, the more lubricated they become. It helps reduce stiffness and pain while also improving the range of motion. Exercise also releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting and pain-relieving effects. And the more you move, the easier it becomes. So start small and build up from there!
In the worst-case scenario, you have a tight deadline and are stuck at your desk for hours on end without a breather. There’s one last resort you can try. Forget what your parents told you; fidgeting can actually be good for you!
While working on your habitual tasks, try tapping your feet or legs or twirling a pencil in your fingers. If you work with music, you’ll find that it’s easier to focus if you’re tapping along to the beat. Bopping your head or swaying side to side can also help you stay energized.
Fidgeting may seem like a silly thing to do, but it can help improve your focus and concentration. It’s also a great way to release excess energy, preventing you from getting antsy or restless.
The key is to never stay completely still. You begin to lock up mentally and physically if you do.
Why it works
Fidgeting can help improve focus and concentration and even increase calorie burn. Remember when fidget spinners were all the rage? It wasn’t just because they were fun to play with. They genuinely helped people focus.
Fidgeting is a great way to stay alert and avoid the adverse effects of sitting for long periods of
time. So next time you feel twitchy at your desk, don’t be afraid to move around a bit! It just might help you be more productive.
They say sitting is the new smoking due to its harmful effects on our health. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up your desk job! Just make sure to incorporate some of these movements into your daily routine to stay healthy, fit, and focused. And don’t limit yourself either! There are plenty of additional ways to add movement to your work day.
Remember, the goal is not to exhaust yourself. These are meant to be gentle reminders to get your body moving. The more you move, the better you’ll feel. So get up and get moving! Your body will thank you for it.