August 13, 2018
Health & Fitness
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How To Stay Active, Be Mindful Of Health At Work

Maya Pottiger
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May 15, 2018

Sitting is the new smoking, they say.

Most working Americans, especially in our increasingly digital society, are stuck at a desk and behind a computer during the eight-hour work day. While responding to emails or working on projects, lengthy periods of time can pass, leading to extended periods of inactivity.

However, there are easy ways to get some simple exercises in throughout your workday.

Here are 10 things to easily incorporate into your work day to ensure you’re staying active:

1.  Get up and move once an hour. Set a timer on your computer, phone or watch to make sure you get up and move once an hour. That could mean walking to the water fountain, going up and down a flight of stairs or taking a lap around your office. The point is to get up and get your blood flowing.

2.  Prepare healthy meals. Eating a healthy, well-prepared lunch is key to both your mental and physical health. Avoid pre-packaged foods and eating out. “Be mindful of the way you eat,” said Terri Hogue, owner of and teacher at Mountain Yoga Studio. “It sounds easy, but it’s difficult for those who aren’t used to that.”

3.  Breathing exercises. Sit up straight, bring your hand to your belly and take deeper breaths, Hogue said. This will expand your chest in all directions, which is calming.

4.  Exercise your neck. You might not realize the strain you put on your neck while staring at your computer screen or driving for lengthy periods of time. To stretch out your neck, bring your ear to shoulder (not your shoulder to your ear!) until you feel a stretch. Then bring your neck back to center and repeat on the other side. You can also roll your neck from shoulder to shoulder with your chin against your chest, but remember not to roll your head backward.

5.  Relieve tension headaches. Again, you might not realize that there is a lot of tension in your neck and shoulders from typing or driving all day. Remember to drop your shoulder blades down and back, Hogue said. This will help relieve stress in the back of your neck, which causes the headaches.

6.  Give your eyes a break. We all know that staring at a computer screen strains our eyes. Did you know there are eye exercises you can do? Look all the way to the left side, hold, come back to center and repeat on the right side. You can also look up, down or diagonally. The point is to keep your eyes soft and always return to center between directions. “This helps release tightness in the eyes,” Hogue said. “It’s a form of self-care for the eyes.” You can also massage your temples to relieve these headaches.

7.  Chair yoga. There are simple yoga poses you can do while seated at your desk to make sure your muscles aren’t getting stiff or sore. Seated twists will help open your chest and stretch your lower back. “Keep the crown of your head over your pelvis and ensure your spine isn’t tipping,” Hogue said. “Twist to the side in a vertical position.” You can do this by putting your left hand on your right arm rest, and vice versa.

8.  Use a bathroom on a different floor. When you sit for hours, your joints get stiff, your blood isn’t moving and your heart rate isn’t escalating. By using the bathroom on another floor of your building, you’re getting in some stairs and extra steps during the day.

9.  Stay hydrated. We all need that caffeine kick in the morning, but there are many benefits to transitioning to water. The more water you drink, the more times you’ll have to get up to refill your water bottle or go to the bathroom, which means more time up and moving during the day.

10.     Sit on the front half of your chair. Sitting on the front half of your chair makes you more perched, allowing you to sit up taller and straighter. It also allows you to draw your shoulder blades back and down, which will help relieve tension in your neck.

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