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Adding Movement Into Your Work Day

By now, most of us understand that sitting all day is bad. Or, if this is news to you, take a look at this 2017 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine that correlates long uninterrupted periods of sitting with increased likelihood of death (Or this study in the European Heart Journal linking sitting to higher blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Or this study asserting that interrupting sitting time with bouts of light or moderate walking lowers glucose and insulin levels.) Whether it causes tight muscles or heart problems, it’s clear that we’re generally worse off after spending our days at the desk or on the computer.

Now, in all fairness, there are also studies suggesting standing creates its own health problems. After all, almost anything in extreme excess is going to be harmful.But if we can, let’s recognize that the sedentary lifestyles many of us are forced into due to our work, needs to be shaken up to avoid potential health problems. This is truer than ever at this moment in history, where an unprecedented number of us are working from home, and in less than ideal conditions, due to the pandemic. So what can we do?

Fortunately, the answer is simple: We need to move. Many health experts recommend getting up at least once every 20-30 minutes. Even if it’s just for a walk around the house or office, frequently interrupting long seated periods has had a scientifically demonstrated effect on overall health.

Below, I’ll discuss some of my favorite solutions for finding movement in your day, including a multi-week approach.

One easy way I’ve found to motivate myself to move while working is by putting a container of carrots (or another healthy, bite-sized snack) in the office fridge, and then make myself get up and walk across the office to grab individual bites throughout the day.

If you have a somewhat private space in your office (or you’re working from home), then the possibilities expand further. In this case, you may want to escape every 30-60 minutes for a few Sun Salutations. Finding active movement like sun salutations not only improves health but it will give you an energy-boost during your day.

Another favorite solution of mine has been choosing a movement focus area in the body for the month (ie.hips or shoulders). Once I’ve picked the area, then I will build up hen building a series of poses to open or strengthen that area that I can do intermittently throughout the day to get away from the computer. If this is something you’re interested in doing, then below is a weekly sequence of postures you might consider using.

Hip-Focused Weekly Movements:

A few months ago I started getting a sharp pain in my hip when standing up. This was the result of my hip flexors tightening after being flexed in a 90-degree angle for hours and hours on end. So I choose this quick series of postures to stretch myself back out, with slightly different movements each week. Since these stretches only take 10-15 minutes at a time, they can be done multiple times throughout the day and make for the perfect break from the computer.

Week 1 (2 - 3 times per day):

Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

Find a lunge with your hands on your front knee and your back knee on the ground. Sit the hips down and forward as you relax into the posture. Pull the navel in to avoid arching into the lower back. Hold 30 second holds x 3 reps

Supine knee to opposite shoulder

Lay on your back and pull one knee up toward chest, and then across the body towards the opposite shoulder. Hold 30 second holds x 3 reps

Reclined pigeon (Supta Kapotasana)

Lay on the back and cross one ankle over the opposite thigh. Reach around the shin of the grounded leg and pull the legs in towards the chest. Work to ground the sacrum and relax the upper body down towards the mat. Hold 30 second holds x 3 reps

Week 2 (2-3 times per day):

· Repeat same postures above

· Add: TFL Stretch x 1 minute each side

From your reclined pigeon release the shin, and allow the legs to fall towards the side of your grounded leg. Then, reach the knee of the crossed leg towards the opposite foot to stretch TFL muscle.

Week 3 (1-2 times per day):

Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana) variation x 30 second holds x 3 reps