You better move.
My job is into wellness, which is pretty cool because so am I. They reward employees for meeting physical and mental health goals, and even host workshops on random well-ness related topics. I’ve attended just two workshops, but I shit you not, both have quite literally changed my life.
The first one taught me the merits of quinoa, kale, and bean salad. Still, life-changing. I don’t remember the workshop topic, I just remember a little styrofoam cup full of ingredients I never eat. Quinoa – the embodiment of bourgeoisie. Kale – the worst type of salad ever. And beans, beans, the wonderful fruit…
For some reason, I loved it (maybe it was the olive oil). I went home and made it three weeks in a row.
The latest workshop was about staying active beyond exercise and the speaker told everyone that sitting for work is the new smoking. I suspected it was a cliche, but I honestly hadn’t heard that before. First he was like, “Your ass gets flat,” and I was like, “Nah, I’m actually doing pretty good.” But when he said it figuratively makes your lungs look like a rusted drain pipe, I was prepared to never sit again. Like, my boss needs to give me a standing desk or I’m out. I want to liiiiive!
I amused myself at the thought that no one got up out of their seats while he lectured about this.
After the initial excitement died down and I had to actually get back to work, I decided that major lifestyle changes take time and sat back down for a few more hours, but my thoughts keep creeping back to how could I do more. My Apple Watch already bitches at me every hour that I sit too long, but what else could I do to counteract the evils of sitting?
First, I adopted a skeptical mind and googled sitting v standing. This in an important first step. It’s kind of like checking with your doctor before undergoing an exercise program, except your sources aren’t necessarily legit. The good thing, though, is that you’re not just going off of the advice of just one guy. (If I told you could fly, would you jump off a bridge?)
Then, I worked with the information I had to design a solution that fit my needs. Apparently, many agree that sitting has its negative effects, but there’s an important clarification that needs to be made about the benefits of standing. Standing erect for eight hours isn’t necessarily preventing stroke, in fact, it’s got its own problems. What you need to focus on is movement. The inclination to stay in motion: to have walking meetings, to stretch real quick, or visit your coworker instead of IMing.
What did I do? I downloaded this nifty app called Move. (They are not paying me for this plug. Unfortunately.) What it does is remind you to do a brief exercise in regular intervals. You set the intervals, and for less than $3 you can set the types of exercises, too. I was being cheap, so I used the free version and it kicked…my…ass…
Every 20 minutes, squats, jumping jackets, crunches. You don’t realize how fast 20 minutes goes until you have to get on the floor and plank mid-email.
The moral of the story is: I don’t care if you have a sitting desk or standing desk; I don’t care if you workout for two hours or ten minutes; I don’t care if you decide to run down the steps every hour or just stretch your arms more often than usual. However, if you sit for eight hours a day and you have kids, you should be a pal, do them a favor, and get off your ass every once in a while.
2 thoughts on “You better move.”
Cucina & Amore Artichoke and Roasted Pepper Quinoa meals are delicious.
How do you go about doing squats, jumping jackets, and crunches every 20 minutes in an office? I would think it would be distracting to others. Also, there are studies that show it takes about 23 minutes to get back into the swing of things after being distracted. I’m not against more physical activity at work, but for work’s sake, it should probably be limited to lunch and 2 or 3 other breaks throughout the day.
I’m not sure about artichokes, buddy. As for the exercising, I probably could have been clearer. I’m not advocating you exercise every 20 minutes; it only worked for me when I was working from home. It would be great for a certain someone I know who works exclusively from home, but today, at work, at best I’ll get out of my chair every 30 minutes.
What I would like more people to do is consider making movement a regular part of their day. If they only get up at lunch, maybe they could challenge themselves to get up when they get at a good stopping point or take the long way to the bathroom or park far from their car. Movement should be invited not seen as a disruption, because in the big picture, healthy living is more important than that one project that you’ll forget in two months.
I’ve also read that it takes a lot of effort to get back into activities when you’ve been interrupted, but I personally think that: 1) stepping away from a task helps me refocus when I’ve gotten stuck after thinking on it too long, 2) I hit enough stopping points in my workflow that it wouldn’t be a total disruption to move at those times, and 3) there are little things that can be done besides full out exercise. This morning I paid for Move’s office pack to see if they had ways for me to stretch at my desk without planking. Verdict’s out.
I also want to add that there has been a suggestion that people could do more in-person communicating and less instant messaging. I personally strongly dislike when people walk up to my desk and interrupt my workflow to discuss something that could have been messaged and read at a convenient time. Not everything’s for everybody.