By now, most of us have adapted to the “new norms” that have come about due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have constructed work spaces, creatively juggled into our everyday living spaces, in order to efficiently continue carrying out our work from a new environment. Whilst much thought has been put into our workstations, allowing our workflow to be maintained, oftentimes our health and wellbeing has been pushed aside and has not received the same sort of attention.
However, over time, home gyms have been set up. Some of you may have set up your MAXPRO somewhere in your home and are regularly getting your workouts in. That is great and something to be proud of for sure! Nevertheless, let’s take a closer look at the rest of our days spent in our homes. I know I can speak for myself and say that I have been sitting at my computer all morning and am now starting to feel a little pinch in my lower back. Regardless of the fact that I did my high intensity workout for 45 minutes this morning, my body is letting me know that it is not comfortable and needs a break from the spinal compression I am subjecting it to by consistently sitting at my computer on my less-than-ideal living room chair.
You may have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”, and with our current global context, this could not be emphasised enough. Research has shown that you can reduce your chances of cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and back pain, all with one simple lifestyle change: reducing the time you spend sitting. Why not start now then? We are all guilty of sitting too much, regardless of the excuses we give ourselves. Yes, we are still amidst a pandemic, social media has crept into all of our lives and sedentary behaviour has become normalized in modern cultures. However, we can help ourselves and it is imperative that we do, particularly as we continue to work from home or even plan to do so for the foreseeable future.
Simple steps to break up sitting whilst working from home
Being conscious of your sitting is the most important and helpful tool that you can equip yourself with at this time. Mindfulness and awareness will provide you with the fuel and drive to alter your sitting patterns. They will give you that extra little push that you need to get you off your chair and onto your feet between meetings.
Have a plan and work on bringing that plan to action. You no longer have your hallway or watercooler chat with your colleagues to keep you standing a little longer in your breaks? No problem! Find an alternative way to get that break in. Here is a list of simple little things that you can use to break up the time you spend sitting at your workstation.
- Get some household chores done briefly in between your meetings. Water those house plants, take out the trash, schedule your appointment (walking around your yard whilst talking on the phone). It’s incredible how much impact a few small changes can have on your step count and in return on your overall health.
- Are you an avid tea or coffee drinker? Plan on getting up to make yourself a nice hot cup of your choice. Perhaps you want to add in a few bodyweight squats whilst the water is heating up.
- Set yourself auditory reminders. Set a repeating reminder to go off every 45 minutes, reminding you to break up your sitting time. You’ll be surprised what a little “ping” can help you accomplish.
- Don’t underestimate the power of visual cues. Try this out! Place your MAXPRO device next to your workstation. Anytime a meeting is over, set yourself an activity of your choice, for example bicep curls, and get a few in. You can even do this whilst you are waiting for other members of your team to join your meeting. Not only will you feel more refreshed and ready for your meeting, your body will also thank you as you make it sit through the next meeting.
- Drink, drink and drink some more! Whilst most of us know the health benefits of drinking water, there’s another benefit that relates to sitting; it makes you need the bathroom, which in turn means you get off your sitting station and onto your feet. This might seem silly, but it could be a fun and simple way to give your health that little extra boost.
- Use your features! Many of us have our adjustable workstations, standing desks and many other fancy work-from-home toys and tools. Using them is just as important as having them! Make sure that you are using the standing desk feature for at least one of your meetings every day. If you don’t have a standing desk, consider getting a wobble cushion for your chair. Any type of movement in your spine is better than nothing. Ideally you want to be adjusting your body positioning frequently over time. If you can’t do this at your workstation, simply standing up or taking a few steps around your office will do the trick!
- As fun as it may be, avoid keeping your work area stocked up with snacks, regardless of how healthy these may be. Make a point of having to get up and actively collect your snacks from your kitchen, rather than lazily grabbing them out of your desk drawer. The extra steps and quick break from sitting will provide a little relief for your body.
If you skimmed through this article and didn’t know which part to focus on, the one take away for you should be: “The more you move, the better you'll feel!” Regardless of what your strategy might be, breaking up our sitting time is vital for continued health and wellbeing whilst working from home. There are many many ways in which we can give our body that quick break from sitting, and you may have some great ideas of your own. Share these with your friends and family or discuss them with your co-workers during your next meeting. We could all benefit from sitting a little less and with that I am going to close my computer and make a cup of chai tea for myself.