Monday Top Tips: Countering the Seated Workday
by Adam Pratomo
For many, the idea of working a 9-5 job actually sounds pretty good. More and more of us are commuting longer, working longer and overall sitting longer than ever before. We know that inherently being inactive and sitting all day isn’t good for us but what can we do? Below are some tips to get you moving:
• Say, “Yes I can!”: If you are reading this you already have the intention of making a positive change in your health. The key to success is to set yourself up with a few simple goals you can actually attain. Once you see some results, and find yourself feeling better mentally and physically you can set more lofty goals. Make a list of 3-5 simple things that matter to you, feeling free to use some of the following tips as suggestions.
• Start with just one breath: Put one hand on your belly, and the other on your chest. Take 2 or 3 breaths and ask yourself “Is my breathing pattern shallow and in my upper chest, or deeper and fuller so that I can also feel my belly expand”. Take several moments like this to breathe during your day. Constant deadlines and pressure often changes how we breathe and taking these moments can help re-energize you for the next task.
• Check your Posture: How are you sitting right now? Go ahead and slouch- (yes, really) Now sit up as straight as you can. Next relax a little bit from the military straight/arched back position you were in and stay there. Are your feet flat on the floor? Is your back supported by the back rest? Can you still reach your keyboard without feeling like you have to overextend yourself? Posture is a choice- You can choose not to slouch, but it takes intent.
• Get up: Sitting for 10 hours a day isn’t good for us, but there are deadlines and other commitments we can’t seem to escape. People can develop urinary tract infections from working intensely and not getting up to urinate often enough. Drink enough water so that you have to get up and go every couple of hours. Use this break to take a moment to stretch and start thinking about your body.
• Make an appointment: We all need deadlines. Set yourself up with something on your computer’s calendar right now that implores you to get up and move. Studies show that to make something a real habit, we need to do it daily and for up to 5 weeks before it becomes a part of a routine. Set yours now.
Adam Pratomo is a physical therapist with the Rehabilitation Department at Hospital for Special Surgery.