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On average, we sit for 13 hours each and every day. Think about that – most of us are only awake for a total of 16 hours per day. That means that essentially 81% of our lives while awake is spent sitting.
Don’t think that applies to you? Think about it. What does your day look like? Wake up. Sit for breakfast. Sit in the car on your morning commute. Arrive at work. Sit at a desk or continue to sit while driving to different sites. Sit while eating lunch. Return to work for more sitting. Sit on your drive home. Sit while eating dinner. Sit while watching tv. Go to bed. Repeat the next day.
What are you doing right now?
Probably sitting, right? Do us a favor, stand up, and give your body a little wiggle.
You back? How did that make you feel? Did it feel good? Good.
WHAT SITTING DOES TO OUR MUSCLES & JOINTS
We’ve established that we sit… A LOT. So what? Just why is that so bad for our bodies? When you spend most of your time sitting, you expose your body to unnecessary wear and tear that can have negative consequences over time. The result? Back pain, neck pain, hip issues and an overall feeling of stiffness and soreness. In fact, employees across industries, even those who lift heavy objects and perform manual labor on a daily basis, rank sitting as the #1 cause of discomfort.
According to the National Institute of Health, back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the United States with approximately 4 out of 5 adults suffering from it on a regular basis. According to Dr. Nabil Ebrahiem, an Orthopedic Surgeon from the University of Toledo, sitting in a slouched position puts the equivalent of 400lbs of pressure on your spine. That’s the equivalent of having a gorilla on your back! Now imagine having that sort of pressure on your body for 13 hours per day, every single day. It’s no wonder we’re feeling the effects of sitting.
Additionally, sitting disrupts our breathing. It compresses our chest and creates a compressed cavity for our lungs, making it harder for our lungs to take in air. Sitting in a slouched position amplifies this problem. It even further reduces the ability of the diaphragm to produce the proper force to optimally contract. With our diaphragm restricted, our shoulders are forced to take on the heavy lifting of helping us get air into our lungs. The result- extremely overused neck and shoulder muscles, resulting in tension in these areas.
Are you starting to feel like sitting is the enemy? Fortunately, there is one simple step you can take to have an immediate impact on stiffness, soreness, and daily pain – get up and move! But how? What does that actually mean?
WHY YOU NEED TO TAKE MOVEMENT BREAKS
Taking microbreaks throughout the day, specifically, ones that focus on movement can help keep you healthy and active throughout life. The best part – they’re easy to fit into your busy schedule and have a tremendous impact on how you feel on a daily basis.
Apart from letting you step away and disengage your mind from a stressful task, movement breaks give your body the opportunity to do what it does best: move.
Your body was designed to bend, twist, lunge, and move. If you neglect your movement health, your movement can become restricted resulting in pain and ultimately injury. The good news is that movement breaks can help your body regain its natural range of motion.
Additionally movement breaks can reduce your stiffness and soreness. Stiff muscles and sore joints, or conversely, sore muscles and stiff joints, have the unpleasant effect of impeding your productivity and ability to focus while at the office. When your muscles and joints are in good working order, you can attend to your work without spending time seeking relief from discomfort and pain.
Studies also support how beneficial low-intensity physical activities can be during movement breaks. These movements can:
- Enhance focus and productivity
- Improve bone strength
- Increase blood circulation
- Increase metabolism
- Plus way, way more!
Switching between sitting and standing helps strengthen and tone your body, circulate your blood, and engage your metabolic system. With your metabolism running more efficiently, you can help direct nutrients, oxygen, vital enzymes, endorphins, and other hormones throughout the body to keep systems operating at higher levels – benefits you’ll notice both at the office and off the clock. Basically, when you move often, your body’s systems function better meaning you can live better.
You’ll likely be inclined to continue taking frequent movement breaks because of how good they make you feel. When your mood elevates and your focus stays strong, you’ll feel more energized and ready to tackle the next challenge. Instead of moving through your workday sluggish and disinterested, you’ll move from project to project with more enthusiasm and a deeper sense of workplace satisfaction.
It’s clear, movement breaks don’t just benefit you during work hours; they help you improve your overall health and can even inspire you to develop a strong movement health routine.
HOW TO FIT MOVEMENT BREAKS INTO YOUR WORKDAY
Now that you know how important movement breaks are, all you need to do is take steps to include them in your day. Remember that numerous microbreaks are better than one long break. If you can get up and move every 15 to 30 minutes, that would be ideal, but we understand that might be a bit too frequent so just remember to change things up every hour. The main goal is to make sure you don’t find yourself sitting for extended periods of time.
Here are some easy activities you can do in your office or after driving to reverse the stress sitting puts on your body.
- BREATHING: Sitting restricts our ability to breathe properly by compressing our diaphragm. When the diaphragm isn’t able to do its job, the body turns to our shoulder, neck and back muscles to keep us breathing. Restore the proper function of the diaphragm and turn those overworked muscles off by practicing deep belly breaths. Proper breathing can help correct the soreness we experience from improper breathing.
- ROLLING: Sitting tends to cause our muscles to get bound up into “knots” or adhesions that restrict our movement and cause stiffness and soreness. And that tight muscle or adhesion in one area of your body can have a negative effect on the muscles they are connected to and ultimately restrict our movement. Rolling out these muscle knots with massage tools is a great way to break up the muscles knots and relieve tension and stiffness. It will even help you improve your range of motion. Take 20-30 seconds and roll out your body’s tight and sore spots.
- MOVING: It’s important to move our bodies, and often. That’s what they were designed to do – move. In our culture of sitting, it’s paramount that we get up and move every 1-2 hours. Incorporate these movements with belly breathing and rolling and you’ve got yourself the perfect movement break!
- The Archer – Relieve neck, shoulder and back tension by getting your upper back moving better
- Chest Opener – perfect for opening the chest and relieving shoulder tightness
- Hip Opener – Reduce tension in your lower back by helping your hips move better
The Chest Opener
The Hip Opener
3 Reps / Side
These movements are simple and anyone can do them regardless of your fitness level. They won’t send you off huffing and puffing, and they don’t lead to sweat dripping off your back. You want to get your blood circulating and your muscles activating so you can be at 100% both on and off the job.
If you take away anything, remember this. Take Microbreaks. Often. And most importantly, get that body MOVING.
READY TO GET MOVING?
Download the Movement Break Poster for a quick reminder to help keep you moving and thriving at work.
Disclaimer: Vimocity does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
If you experience any pain with any movements immediately stop and consult a qualified healthcare provider.