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The future of Health and Wellbeing is in our own hands

 christine uksa

10 ways to integrate exercise into your day 

Our bodies have been designed to move. Functional body movements which allow us to walk, to climb, to pick things up are integral to our day. Inactivity (even sedentary in blocks) can affect our daily functional movements. We are doing less for longer periods of the day. The computer job and office based work which began in the 80’s has now meant that a high percentage of the population who has stayed with an office based job, has almost been sitting for 8 hours a day/ 5 days per week for 40 years! In this time, we have had an increase of obesity, diabetes and inflammation (pain) from repetitive strain injuries, from lower back pain (causing a weak core sitting at a desk for long periods of the day), “computer slump” shoulders from arching your back at your desk, overused hip flexors (shortening), not to mention other serious illnesses linked to inactivity. A daily routine or repetitive habits are sustained for long periods of the day, this becomes a lifestyle, which unfortunately has been subconsciously forced upon us. 

Workplace wellness is a key topic on the Global Wellness agenda. Research strongly suggests that work life inactivity health imbalance has caused the decline of our activity levels, leading to a more sedentary lifestyle.

As with anything in life, we are determined by what we do. If we sit more than we are active then we are sedentary.

However, there is good news! People are becoming more and more aware of the sedentary lifestyle and are actively participating in more exercise. The last 5-10 years have seen a huge gym participation growth. This is great to see; however, we are finding that this not exactly solving the problem. Increasing activity is great, however it’s for 1-1.30 hours/ 3-5days per week when not moving for long periods of the day, has seen an increase in injuries and ‘faddy” training habits.

So here are 10 simple sustainable ways you can increase your activity levels;

1) Wake up stretch. The transition from sleep to activity, can be the most difficult to manage.

One way to is to practice sun salutations after you get out of bed in the morning. It’s a great way to kick start your metabolism and aid digestion. It is also a mentally stimulating way to begin the day.

2) Pre-work gym/home training session. 20minute resistance band workout which can be done at the gym or at home. You may want to alternate that with a morning jog or stretch session. Practicing functional body challenges, such as “getting off the floor”. 

 

The motion of getting your body moving and your heart rate up is good practice before starting work. Also, the outside air will be also for breathing (unless in a high polluted zone- I would choose a park walk/cycle) and also a time to mentally plan for the day.

4) If you are an office based worker, this is for you! I would aim to take regular walking, drinking breaks to break up the time spent sitting. You could make a habit of walking whilst on the phone.

5) If you are sat at the desk, please be mindful not to slouch, try to engage your core. You can switch your regular chair for a Swiss ball or opt for a task chair, saddle stool. Another great way is to switch to a standing desk for parts of the day or use a height adjustable desk. 

6) Do not forget lunchtime, it is so important to take your lunch. Taking lunch allows you to allocate time for eating but also can be alternated with a lunchtime run, walk or gym session.

7) Mid-afternoon walk. A few members at our practice Space & Place have started to adopt this policy to take 3-5minute walks throughout the day to help them digest and refocus the mind.

8) Getting home. Including a 10-20minute walk at the end of your working day, is a great way to reflect on the day.

9) Evening gym session, may not necessarily have to be 1hour of hard core circuits, weights, spin or HIT . If you find these quite draining on the body, and prone to injury, this might not be the right solution for you, a gentler session might be a better solution. The gym is great way to keep motivated so I do encourage the use of the gym, but I would take the expertise of a personal trainer who may be able to set you up a much more sustainable program based on your daily routines and fitness ability. 

10) A late-night stretch, yoga or breathing sessions will be a fantastic way to complete the day. This will prepare the body for rest and relaxation and will help you switch off from a very busy day.

These are just 10 simple ways to keep moving throughout the day, of which there may be many more, I would welcome your comments below.

Small changes, lead to a much bigger change overall. Be mindful of your choices and if you can integrate 3 or more of these tips you would be already making a big change in your lifestyle.

Written by Christine-Alice Hartigan 

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Friday, 18 September 2020