Sunday, April 1, 2018

Work at a Desk? Get Walking, Increase Mobility for a Better Life


If you’re like most of the workforce, there’s a good chance that you are sitting behind a desk and typing away on a computer. The ease and comfort of desk jobs have come at a steep price for most people. Sitting on average for 8 to 10 hours each day is a recipe for trouble. Let’s take a look at the dangers of staying sedentary along with the simple ways you can reverse the damage.

What’s the Problem with Sitting All Day?

Sitting feels great after a long day of running around or a tough workout but like all good things, it should be done in moderation. Remaining sedentary has been shown to have a number of serious health consequences that can impact your day-to-day living along with your risk of mortality.

Muscle Overcompensation

Do you suffer from lower back pain? Did you notice that you suddenly were experiencing more headaches, neck pain, and tightness in your legs after starting a job that requires you to be sitting? It’s no coincidence that those people who work at a desk job visit their doctor or chiropractor to report pain in the back, neck, and shoulders.

When you sit all day, key muscle groups are becoming weaker because they aren’t being used. As a result, stronger muscle groups will begin to take over for them during certain movement patterns. For example, sitting all day notoriously makes your glutes (butt muscles) weaker. As a response, when you go to do an exercise like the squat, the glutes aren’t activated because other muscles like the hamstrings are taking over for them. What could go wrong? Over worked muscles are at a higher risk for strain, tearing, and injury. Sitting weakens muscles while overworking others and this dramatically increases your risk for getting hurt.

Weight Gain

Obviously if you’re sitting all day, you aren’t being active and this can have big consequences on your weight and waist line. When people take up office jobs where sitting is required, they stop being active but continue to eat the same number of calories as before. What’s more, if you work in an office, you know only too well how ordering fast food a few times a week quickly becomes an office habit. Combine a lack of movement with high calorie eating choices and you have a recipe for weight gain.

Higher Risk for Disease and Death

Continuing with the point above, as you gain weight, you also increase your risk for certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Studies show that those who sit to work have a dramatically higher risk of preventable diseases. What’s more, sitting is so bad for your health that it’s been compared to smoking.

A popular study published in Annals of Internal Medicine confirmed that those adults who sit for one or more hours without getting up had a significantly higher risk of mortality than those people who made sure to get up every hour to move and stretch. Some experts go so far as to say that even exercise can’t offset all of the damage you’re doing.

Best Ways to Improve Mobility

Let’s say you’ve been working at a desk job for year, is it too late to reverse the damage done from sitting? Not at all. Let’s take a look at some simple tips to improve mobility and overall health.

Move Throughout the Day

I’m not suggesting that you up and quit your job in order to improve your mobility. We all have to work but there may be little changes you can make in your daily routine to reverse the health consequences of sitting. First is to simply move more. You don’t need to break out a pair of resistance bands at the office (although that is a great idea) but you should be standing up to move and stretch once or twice per hour as your schedule allows.

The general rule of thumb is that for every hour you spend sitting, you should be standing up, moving around, and stretching for 5 to 10 minutes. You can simply march in place or talk a walk around your office space to get water, drop off files, or make copies. It doesn’t matter what you do so long as you’re getting up from that desk and moving.

Get a Stand-Up Desk 

One of the easiest ways to increase your activity level, refrain from sitting all day, and improve posture is to get a stand-up desk. These desks have become extremely popular in progressive work spaces. A stand-up desk is an adjustable desk that allows you to move the desk according to your height so you can type, write, and take calls while standing. Most desks also come with an attachable stool for when you want to take short sitting breaks.

Start a Daily Mobility Workout

One of the best things that you can do to complement your current workout routine, improve your results, and reverse the damage of sitting is to adopt a daily mobility workout program. Focusing on a simple series of stretches will have dramatic results. What’s more, daily mobility exercises can reverse all of the damage done from sitting. You’ll be able to strengthen weak muscles, release tension from tight muscles, and reduce your risk of injury. Here’s a total body mobility workout that you can use each day:

Daily Mobility Routine

Below, I’ve included a complete mobility routine that you can do at home. I’d recommend doing this routine twice a day if you’re able. Once in the morning after waking and again in the evening before you go to bed. This will dramatically help you restore the length tension relationships in your muscles. 

  • Perform twice per day, preferably in the morning and at night.

Best Office Stretches for Mobility

Below, you’ll find five stretches you can do in the office. I’d recommend performing these five stretches once for every hour that you are sitting.

  • Perform for 30 seconds
  • Repeat if you’re able

  • Perform for 30 seconds
  • Repeat if you’re able

  • Perform for 30 seconds
  • Repeat if you’re able

  • Perform for 30 seconds
  • Repeat if you’re able

  • Perform for 30 seconds
  • Repeat if you’re able

Boost Recovery and Mobility Results

Keep Hydrated

The most important rule with stretching is to keep yourself hydrated. You don’t need to drink three gallons of water per day but you should be drinking clean and mineral-based water throughout the day. Yes, tea and coffee are okay to drink but don’t neglect actual water without the additives of flavoring or fake coloring. 

Collagen Hydrolysate

After you kickstart your day with a glass or two of water, you can enjoy your normal cup of tea or coffee. Within that tea or coffee, I’d highly recommend putting a serving of collagen hydrolysate. Collagen has become a very popular supplement within the last decade as studies highlight its benefits of improving connective tissue health while alleviating joint pain. Using collagen hydrolysate may improve your recovery and results from stretching.

Get Some Fresh Air and Go Hiking

When you aren’t working out in the gym, consider going on short hikes. The movement promotes recovery and emphasizes the muscles that are not used while sitting. What’s more, the sunshine will help to promote Vitamin D production. Vitamin D has been shown to be an effective recovery vitamin as it promotes healthy growth hormone production.

Foam Roll

After you get finished with your workout or your hike, I’d recommend using a foam roller. You’ve probably seen long pieces of Styrofoam in your local gym and you may have wondered what and how to use them. 

Foam rollers have received a lot of attention as of late as fitness experts are recommending them as a part of an effective stretching and tension release program. Just like when you get a deep tissue massage, foam rollers relieve tension and work out the knots in your muscle tissue. Best of all, it’s a fraction of the price of a massage.

Soak in Epsom Salts

When your day is all said and done, why not treat yourself to a nice bath? The hot water is great for promoting relaxation and blood flow in the muscle tissue. If you’re jumping in the tub, you should be using epsom salts

These salts are incredibly inexpensive and yet, they provide an immense amount of relief for sore and aching muscles. What’s more, they are an effective way to promote recovery after a stretching workout.

Conclusion

Do you stretch each day? What benefits have you noticed since you started stretching? Do you want to begin a stretching routine but you have questions on where to begin? Let me know in the comments below! 

References


1. Duration of Sedentary Episodes Is Associated With Risk for Death. Ann Intern Med. 2017 Oct 3;167(7). doi: 10.7326/P17-9045. Epub 2017 Sep 12.