- If the only work breaks you get are a lunch and a few minutes later in the day, you’re probably not as healthy, happy, or productive as you could be.
- Checking in with your body a couple times per hour does wonders for your body, your focus, and your happiness.
- Movement and exercise don’t have to be a big production with special outfits, expensive equipment, and membership contracts. Here are 5 simple desk exercises that will help you move, when all you have is a few minutes and some open space.
How many breaks do you take throughout the day?
If your company follows the outdated 8-5 factory model that allows a short lunch in the middle of the day and another 10-minute break later, you’re probably not as healthy, happy, or productive as you could be.
Humans are not built to sit still for hours and hours on end. Your brain gets tired. Your joints get stiff and creaky. You end up with chronic pain, impaired focus, or in extreme cases, anxiety and depression.
On an episode of the Bulletproof Radio podcast, Filmmaker, Qi Gong Master, and corporate wellness advisor Pedram Shojai makes the case that you should stop what you’re doing to check in with yourself every 25-30 minutes.
“Everything starts to grow up when people just give themselves permission to check in with themselves twice an hour, stretch, move their body, get the blood flowing,” says Shojai. “Your active metabolic rate goes up, your resting metabolic rate goes up, your aches and pains start to get better and you just honor your body.”
Seems like a lot of breaks, and a lot of jobs don’t lend themselves to this stop-start style of work. Taking time to move doesn’t have to mean interrupting your flow. Read on to learn five easy desk exercises that keep your blood and brain pumping all day long.
Sit and stand while working at an adjustable standing desk
You have to do desk work anyway. Why not set up a workspace that’s kind to your body?
Constant sitting can lead to terrible posture, which messes up alignment of your shoulders, neck, and back, and restricts blood and lymph flow.
Standing carries its own set of problems. If you’re going to stand all day, have a pro check your posture so that you aren’t putting constant pressure on your knees and hips from misalignment.
A happy medium is an adjustable-height desktop. If you can sit for part of the day and stand for the rest of the time, you won’t experience the effects of hours and hours of one or the other. You’ll notice a better overall physical and mental state if you can switch it up every now and then.
Take your calls on the move
Most office phone systems allow you to route calls to your cell phone, so you can take them on the go. Shojai does all of his conference calls on the go. He explains, “I’ll put it on mute. I’ll chime in. Put it back on mute. Hang off the monkey bars. Like literally I’m stretching at the park while on these conference calls.”
He lets the people he’s speaking with know that he’s out for a walk, and he encourages everyone else to get outside, too.
Pace around the office while you work
“Still water breeds poison,” warns Shojai. He encourages you to pace around the office rather than sit, which slows your blood flow.
You don’t have to march an actual path around your entire floor. You can be right where you are, stretching your hips and moving around while you read and talk.
Ritualize things you do every day
When you make something a habit, you don’t have to think about it — you just do it.
If you make a ritual out of an everyday activity, you can be sure you’ll work some movement in during an otherwise mundane activity.
- Do you take an elevator to the 18th floor? Hold a wall sit until it’s time to get off.
- Do you put your lunch in the breakroom every morning? Bust out 10 push-ups before you head back to your desk.
- Waiting in the hallway before class? Stack a few books on the floor and do some calf raises.
Shojai climbs two flights of stairs to get to his office, so he started a stairs ritual that gets him moving before he starts his day and several times throughout.
“I’m not allowed to do those stairs normally. So I either have to hop three stairs, or I do a lunge and then kickback. I just turn every little thing into a ritual.”
His answer to everyone thinking you’re a weirdo for monkeying around on the stairs? “Just be a leader and don’t get browbeaten by this cultural friction that a lot of people have at work — try to behave and stay in line by eating Arby’s at your desk. It’s insane.” He says that people will start to notice that you’re full of life, and they’ll join in the antics, too.
Stand on a vibration plate
You have three times as much lymphatic fluid as blood, but unlike blood, there’s no lymph pump. So, you have to move it. Cold showers help. So does good, old-fashioned exercise.
You feel the difference when your lymph gets going. Sometimes that overall sludgy feeling is stagnation, and getting moving gets your blood and lymph flowing. You’ll feel better from head to toe.
Standing on a vibration plate is excellent for your lymph. You can turn on the vibe action and stand on it, or you can do a few easy yoga poses to help you regain focus and power the rest of your day.
Vibration plates store conveniently under your desk, so you can slide it out for a few minutes of good vibes whenever you want.
Movement and exercise don’t have to be a big investment with designer outfits, expensive equipment, and membership contracts. Most of the time, all you need is a few minutes and some open space.
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