There have been numerous articles written about the perils of too much sitting. Researchers say that prolonged sitting may lead to a slower than normal metabolism, diabetes and a larger waistline etc. Among these we can also add an inflexible spine due to lack of movement, poor posture, weak upper back muscles, short and tight chest muscles, forward head posture and rounded shoulders to name a few.
Sitting is not only inevitable and necessary at times but the problems arise when we do not make the time to add movement through out our day.
Here are a few ways to add movement to your day while at the office. 1. If possible. instead of sending an email to your co-worker, walk to their desk or office. 2. Add some stretches/Pilates exercises to your day that can be performed at your desk. 3. Have a walking business meeting. 4. Have lunch at a park. 5. Walk the mall on your lunch break 6. Take the stairs 7. Take calls while on your feet or better yet pace and talk 8. Set a daily reminder to step away from your computer screen at regular intervals, this is for your mental and physical health and 9. Use the restroom on a different floor.
Below are a few Pilates exercises you can include in your day, these can be performed at your desk.
Note: Abdominals should be engaged at all times, keep length in the spine and breathe!
Sit tall, with neutral spine and pelvis., abdominals pulled in and up, feet hip distance apart. Extend your arms long in front you, shoulder height, palms facing in and shoulders down.
On an inhale, lengthen your spine, exhale and rotate or twist your spine for a count of 3, bending your elbow as you twist in the same direction while keeping the opposite arm long in front.
Inhale and return to the center and switch sides. Repeat 5 times on each side.
Spine Stretch Forward:
The same seated position as the above exercise. Inhale and lengthen your spine, exhale and nod your head forward ,abs engaged, slowly curve or round your spine forward, arms long and down by sides.
Inhale at the bottom of the movement, taking slow breaths and breathing into the sides of your ribcage. Exhale and slowly roll back up to sitting position. Repeat 5 times.
The same seated position as above, hands are resting at your sides. Inhale, reaching one arm overhead, pressing the opposite hand into the side of the chair. Exhale, bending sideways while reaching the extended arm over head. Inhale and return to the start position. Repeat 5 times on each side.
A few reminders while actively sitting through out the day: Maintain neutral spine, keep your abdominals engaged always, breathe well, meaning fill your lungs air and exhale completely, sit tall and lengthen your spine, relax your neck and shoulders.
The Pilates method/ principles, are not only for inside the studio but the principles should carry you through out your day whether you are sitting or driving or whatever activity you are doing. Being mindful of your own body awareness will improve your alignment and comfort level.
Here are a few stretches that can be performed at the end of your workday.
Back and Hamstrings:
Lie on your back, feet on the floor, knees bent. Draw both knees into your chest and rock side to side. Then alternate extending one leg and hugging the other leg into your chest. Hold each stretch for 20 -30 seconds. Enjoy this you should be able to feel the entire body relaxing.
Cross Body Stretch:
Still on your back keep one leg extended and use the opposite hand to cross the bent leg across your body, and look in the opposite direction to the crossed leg.
Shoulders. Stand and reach your arms behind you, you can hold on to each wrist if this easier or interlace your fingers, while raising your arms behind you so you feel a wonderful stretch in the front of your shoulders.
Figure 4 Stretch:
Lie on floor or mat. Bend knees with feet on floor. Cross lower leg over thigh of other leg. Grasp back of thigh of lower leg with both hands.
Pull leg toward torso. Hold stretch. Repeat with opposite leg.
How do you incorporate movement through out your day? What are your favorite stretches?