The media is saturated with grim statistics about the hazards of a sedentary lifestyle with its risks of obesity, poor cardiovascular health, diabetes, physical pain and foggy brain. As a woman-entrepreneur, do you ever feel the finger of guilt is pointed directly at you? To manage your business, you log many hours in front of a screen, at a desk; and if you are like most Canadians, when you’re not at work, the odds are you’re probably sitting somewhere else. After all, Canadian adults between the ages of 18 and 79 spend an average of almost 10 hours a day (not including sleep) sitting. A whopping 85% of the population does not meet physical exercise guidelines (150 minutes of exercise a week)!
If you’re worried about the health impact that your sedentary lifestyle is having but you don’t have the time to work out on a consistent basis, there are some innovative options to sneak movement into your day. These suggestions will not correct your posture or any injuries you may have sustained along the way. If you are experiencing pain please seek the advice of a professional. For those of us in good health seeking to remain that way, have fun incorporating movement into your day.
Standing/Sitting Desks There is a long tradition of people working while standing and the health and productivity benefits are well documented. Standing/sitting desks fall into one of two categories: Fixed Height Desks in which the desktop is set at a fixed height and one either stands or uses a chair with a foot rest when one wants to sit. A familiar example of this fixed work station is the set-up many used in many banks. IKEA makes an inexpensive wall-mounted option that is suitable for either work or home office.
Adjustable Height Desks are usually motorized and adjust to fit your standing or sitting work position. Often the entire desk-top moves into the perfect position for you whether you are standing or sitting, Workers report increased productivity when standing. For a thorough analysis of the standing/sitting desk options, follow this link to learn more.
Treadmill Desks Treadmill desks are exactly that —a treadmill specifically meant to fit in an office, under a desk. The desk is designed to fit over the treadmill and is adjustable for the user’s height. The user simply turns the treadmill on and walks while they work. This is not strenuous activity, but you’ll be able to fit in more walking time into your day—and that’s important for your health.
It takes most people a few days to get used to working and walking at the same time, but the health benefits are worthwhile. Regular physical activity is linked to maintaining a healthy weight, reduced stress levels and symptoms of depression, increased energy, stronger muscles, bones, joints, heart, lungs, and circulatory system, and a better quality of life. Squeezing in a few minutes at work—or a few hours, depending on your schedule—can help make all of the difference in the world.
Curious? Check out Amazon; there are options that fit nearly every price range. There are even accessories that fit on your treadmill desk to make sure that items don’t fall off. To learn more, read this article:
Stability Balls In the office, stability balls offer the opportunity to change up your sitting position with a minimal investment. Sitting on a ball requires that you use your core muscles to stabilize your position and enables you to move gently while you work. That can keep your thought processes humming. A stability ball is not intended for full time use, nor does it replace your ergonomic chair; rather it is a way to vary your position so that your body relies on different muscles throughout the day.
While it is not for everyone, bouncing on a stability ball and maintaining good alignment with knees over ankles is a simple way to build movement into your day. It is amazing what a few gentle bounces can do to stimulate the circulation and energize thought processes!
Rebounder For those of us with the flexibility to step away from our desk, this is a fun way to add movement and fitness into our day. Think of a rebounder as a mini-trampoline with a stabilizer bar for support. Approximately one metre in diameter, it tucks easily into the corner of many offices. One to two minutes per hour of soft bounce movement on the rebounder is sufficient to boost metabolism and increase cardiovascular and lymphatic circulation and maintain the benefits throughout the day. Experts report that 30 minutes soft bouncing accumulated throughout the day will meet daily exercise recommendations. To learn about its health benefits follow this link:
Try an app! Most of us need a reminder to take a break from work to take care of ourselves. Fortunately, there are many apps available to install on your computer designed to prompt you to look away from your computer screen, take a break for water, stretch or take a walk. One we like is Workrave, a free downloadable app for your home or office workstation. Check it out here:
Stretch your horizons physically and mentally with movement. A Japanese novelist, Haruki Murakami, famously wrote, “I move, therefore I am.” That simple concept speaks to our human condition: our thoughts, movements and actions are intrinsically linked. While movement is an expression of thought, both consciously and unconsciously; our movements also enhance thought increasing productivity along the way. We know that we need to move every day to maintain good health; the challenge for women entrepreneurs is to sneak movement into our crazy-busy lives and explore the potential increased movement offers to enrich our lives, our health, and our businesses.
Please note that these suggestions are intended for healthy individuals seeking to improve their health. If you are living with a chronic pain issue, please check with a medical professional to rule out any major dysfunction before starting any new movement or exercise program.
Clare is co-owner and manager of Avalon Laser Health, a multidisciplinary health clinic that specializes in the treatment of physical injuries with low-intensity laser therapy in a collaborative wellness environment. Our team of physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture and homeopathic professionals blend cutting-edge therapy with time-tested practices to treat the whole body and optimize treatment results. To learn more, visit them online at www.avalonlaserhealth.ca, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, or check out Clare on LinkedIn.