“Movement is medicine.” It’s something my physical trainer Matt Tolstoy, once said to me and it just sort of stuck.
What he meant was not literal. Movement doesn’t necessarily help you get over the flu, but it does make a huge difference in both your mental and physical health.
As an entrepreneur, I admit to being guilty of siting at my desk for waaaay too many hours every day (and night). Sometimes I get into the zone and will look up after 2 hours only realize how much time has passed since I last budged.
A few weeks ago, my 3-year old son did a hilarious (and perfect) impression of “mommy working”. He hunched over a bit and stuck his hands out in front of him and mime-typed on his keyboard, staring ahead. While I laughed until my belly ached, I also realized how alarming this was.
For him, I was being a poor role model, posture included.
For me, I knew this was unsustainable and probably a cumulative net negative in terms of productivity.
So I decided to make a change. I actually consider myself a pretty healthy person. I prioritize exercise in my life, work out 5 times a week, and eat quite healthfully. Other than occasionally skimping on sleep, I’m pretty proud of my physical stamina. I’m not overweight and I have high energy levels throughout the day.
However, after my son’s impersonation episode, I decided I needed a change.
I asked Matt for advice and he suggested I take a 1 minute break every hour, while I worked. During this break I would, well move. He suggested I do the following things during this 1 minute break, 3x each:
- Chin-to-chest (nose-to-ceiling) head raises
- Looking over my left and right shoulder
- Circling my arms overhead and back again with a resistance band
- Toe-touches and ceiling reaches
- Feet-together spine rotations over my right and left sides
- A deep, body-weight squat
It looked pretty simple to me so I printed out a copy of the moves and put it on my desk. But it’s actually taken a LOT of discipline to actually put it into practice.
My first day, the first several hours went by before I remembered these instructions to move. By the next day, I managed to squeeze in this little routine about 3 times. A week in and I’m doing a little bit better but still missing some of my hourly “appointments” with movement.
The point of this story is that you can make very small changes that matter a lot.
Many of us working at desks can become all-too sedentary and it doesn’t take a lot of time (or any sweat) to avoid sitting like stone statues in front of our laptops or computers.
What it does take is discipline (even though we’re talking about minutes!) And yes, incorporating movement into your job may mean you get funny looks from colleagues while you wave your arms around (in which case, you can consider doing this exercise behind closed doors in your office or a free conference room).
The American Heart Association says that there’s been an 83% increase in the number of sedentary jobs since 1950. Add to this the fact that most of us work longer hours per week than ever before, and it’s no wonder there are massive health and obesity problems everywhere we turn.
Plenty of people have written about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle and this article isn’t meant to be a comprehensive discussion of the issues (or solutions).
Just consider this a small reminder that it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or a huge lifestyle change to make a difference. You can try to take a walking phone call or meeting. Or you can simply incorporate 1 minute of movement for every hour you sit at your desk!
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