By Aubrey Lincoln, Fitness Specialist, E-YRT 200hr, Owner of Health Hub Arizona
In order to keep our bodies working for us, we need to take care of them. Most of us struggle with how to infuse movement, mindfully, throughout our workday and begin to feel the undesirable effect being sedentary has on our physical and emotional health. There is growing evidence that shows long periods of uninterrupted sitting can cause serious physical and emotional stress. By infusing short breaks of movement and time outdoors into a workday, a person can sustain higher energy levels, more whole-person health and increased happiness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “85% of America’s workforce sits at their job.” Because the majority of work places do not offer an outdoor working space, those 85% sitting at their jobs are also sitting inside and spending less time outdoors. A recent study, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, showed that shorter and more frequent activities are more potent throughout a workday, than longer periods of activity. This study also showed that when employees rose several times during the day they reported greater happiness, more energy and considerably less craving for food. Therefore, infusing small breaks of movement indoors or outdoors will allow you the opportunity to recharge.
Here are a few of my suggestions on how to infuse mindful movement into your workday. First, set an alarm on your phone or computer as a reminder to move every hour. You choose the amount of time you commit to these movement practices. I recommend going outside for at least 2 of your movement sessions. If the opportunity for a walking meeting arises, take it. Get out side. It is encouraged to choose movement for the lower body, hips and spine. If you spend hours typing, I would suggest focusing on your wrist and forearms. Here is a list of possible movements for the areas of the body listed above.
- Come to sitting on your heels with your knees to touch. Tuck all 10 toes under and sit back on to your heels. Stay here is as long as you can, remembering to breathe and observe the sensation.
- Lie on your back with your legs up the wall. It is not necessary to use a physical wall, but if one is available to you then make sure to scoot all the way against it and stack your ankles above your hips. Be here as long as you’d like. I suggest 15 minutes before or after work.
- Stand tall and place your right ankle on top of your left quad, just above your knee. Flex your right foot and sit your hips parallel or as low as you can to the ground. Place your hands in a comfortable position. Hold for any length of time.
- The spines move in 6 directions, forward bend, backward bend, ride side stretch, left side stretch, right twist and left twist. The spine should move in all 6 directions, every day, to maintain optimal health.
- 1-2 Stand tall with your feet together or hip distance apart. Reach your arms overhead and interlace all ten fingers, release your pointer fingers and thumbs to create what looks like a handgun. Stretch to the right and then over to the left. Hold each side for 5 rounds of breath.
- 3-4 Release your grip and bend your elbows to 90 degrees, face your palms forward and spread your fingers wide. Lift your chest as if there was a string pulling your heart up towards the ceiling. Then, fold forward with a long, flat spine and grab opposite elbows. Bend your knees to feel your chest on your legs and hang for as long as you’d like.
- 5-6 Come to a seat on the ground with your legs long. Place your right foot to the outside of your left leg. Twist to the right and place your left elbow on the outside of your right leg, and your right hand behind you. Hold as long as you’d like and switch sides.
My teacher, Dr. Alanna Kaivalya, always says, “The point isn’t to reach any goal, or achieve anything, at all, really. The point is to practice. The point is the practice.” Build stamina to sustain a commitment to the practices you choose. Cultivate an intention to stay committed to these practices and enjoy the release you’ll feel from staying mindfully active at work.