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Day in and day out. Slugging behind a computer desk, especially in the primarily virtual world. Posture failing, legs cramping, eyes drying. Sitting certainly lends to more sitting.
But we know the risks. With the promotion of X-minute breaks per hour, FitBits and other step trackers, and plethora of reports on the negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle, why is it still such a struggle to get moving?
As Newton described, a body at rest stays at rest.
We are creatures of habit. If we continually remain in a seated position, it is harder and harder to get the body moving for a number of physical and mental reasons.
On the physical side, the body becomes weak. Muscles start to wither, blood flow to the brain is decreased, and the lungs compress, making it harder to breathe in enough oxygen.
On the mental side, lack of blood flow to the brain certainly adds to the sluggish, fatigued feelings. However, there has also been research noting the effects of inactivity and possible risks of anxiety and depression. Sitting for >6 hours a day is especially provoking.
When we are focused, or at least trying to focus, on work for >6 hours per day in a seated position, our concentration starts to wane, our stress levels increase, and the notions of isolation may also be enhanced. All of these factor into feelings of anxiety. Furthermore, with sedentary lifestyles, sleeping becomes a challenge. And lack of sleep certainly fans the flames of depression.
On the contrary, it is not recommended to put insurmountable goals on your plate. Don’t promise that you’ll run for 30 minutes 5 days a week, especially after being primarily sedentary for months, if not years. The likelihood that you will make this change overnight is slim, and disappointment in yourself is not a good motivating tool.
Instead, as Dr. Rangan Chatterjee suggests, take the 5-minute change approach. Tell yourself that you’ll exercise for 5 minutes per day, ideally during your workday. This can be a short walk around the block, a few lunges, a couple of yoga poses, a set of reps with hand weights, or some jumping-jacks for a burst of cardio. You can even bundle this exercise with something work-related (if you must), such as taking a call or listening to that training video you’ve been putting off. And with time, you may be able to increase the duration. But if not, 5 minutes still counts…and is certainly better than nothing!
Adopting this method may not only help curb your workday sitting habits, but it could also be a nice boost for your days off. When you find yourself sitting and not doing work, try 5 minutes of movement. I have a feeling you may want to keep going once the body is in motion.
Need someone to help you out of the slump? Let’s chat about being an Accountability Buddy.