*cue the theme song from Rocky
Yeah I want to hear you say it… “I’m a desk athlete!”… nope not loud enough… “I’m a desk athlete!… now like you believe it! “I’M A DESK ATHLETE!”
That’s better now I’m starting to believe you! You have spent close to half of your adult life training for this moment, countless hours behind the desk, at the computer, on the phone and in transit. This is your time to show the world who you are at your desk, how you can be the best physical version of yourself at that well priced ergo chair that your workplace measured you up for.
In the words of a great inspirational speaker, Rocky Balboa, “The desk ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.” Ok so maybe I added the desk part in, but you get what I mean. It is still up to you to take hold of your wellbeing at the workspace and let’s look at it from an athlete’s mindset.
Before all the Covid-19 isolation rules were enforced and most had the normal routine of traveling to work and putting in an 8 to 9-hour day, the average desk worker would sit on average for 12 hours a day…. That’s a fair chunk of your day sat sedentary on your rear end. Now let’s transport ourselves to our current situation with majority of the world in lockdown in some shape or form and majority of us having to work from home, we have lost all our incidental exercise in our working day. From walking to public transport or from the carpark, out to the café for your morning coffee or the park for lunch, even going to the bathroom or the kitchen to get a glass of water has now reduced to all of 10 steps. So incidentally we are sitting even longer than now than the average of 12 hours it was before and what is probably a sub-optimal desk setup.
Don’t get me wrong it’s amazing to see the whole of society take hold of their physical wellbeing through the isolation period with everyone exercising from their loungerooms, garages, as well as going outside to exercise as one of our only accepted opportunities to be out of the home. It has been a real pleasure for someone who is in the health and wellness industry to see everyone really take the time to invest back into themselves, especially those who normally wouldn’t put the time in their day for themselves.
But there is a clincher here. The body’s metabolism starts to slow after just 20 minutes of being sedentary, which drastically affects blood sugar levels, cholesterol and weight gain. The body produces a “fat – storing enzyme” called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), it is produced by the heart, muscles and adipose tissue which has a key role in how our body processes fat. And when we sit sedentary some of our larger muscle groups (like our legs) stop or slow down in producing this enzyme which leads to a number of health problems, including heart disease. A former director of Life Sciences for NASA Joan Vernikos wrote a book called Sitting Kills, Moving Heals where she likens the effects of astronauts in antigravity situations to our sedentary lifestyle of sitting and how it is nearly an anti-gravity pose. Vernikos also discovers that the very act of standing up from a sitting position has some amazing benefits for our health. Her message being “We are not designed to sit continuously… it’s not how many hours of sitting that’s bad for you; it’s how often you interrupt that sitting is good for you!” The act of standing up once per hour is more effective than walking on a treadmill for 15 minutes, imagine if we were standing out of our chair every 10-15 minutes even if we were to sit back down!
So having interrupted moments at our desk doesn’t need to always be a distraction it can be small regular movement without breaking our focus, helping our bodies ticking along to keep us active healthy. So in-between your breaks at the desk take the desk athlete attitude and keep your bodies moving at the workspace. Check out the video below for 4 super easy exercises to keep you moving at the desk and you bodies moving along like the desk athlete you are.
12 Hours – the amount of time the average person is sitting (sedentary) everyday (this was the statistical average before the Covid – 19 lockdown).
Moving from sitting to standing can improve blood pressure and lower the risk of a heart attack.
Prolonged hand held device usage not only affects our posture but also respiratory function. With significant changes in neck and shoulder blade angles as well as reduced breathing capacity.
-National Institutes of Health
Research has found that doing regular exercise can reduce the frequency of recurring back pain attacks by almost half.
–National Center for Biotechnology Information
TREAT YOUR CHAIR LIKE A “HOT SEAT”
Interrupting prolonged sitting has many physical benefits even without the element of exercise, as it resets our body’s metabolism.
ROTATION IS A GREAT BACK MOBILISER
Rotation not only helps mobilise a tight back, but it also helps activate some postural mucsles to help you sit upright.
WORK AT COUNTERACTING THOSE ROLLED SHOULDERS
If you can get the body up right and shoulders back this can reduce pressure on the neck up to 5 times.
INTERMITTENTLY RESET YOUR “DESK JOCKEY” POSTURE
Get up, stretch, open up the hips, re-activate your body regularly.
*Please note these exercises and tips are general in nature if you are experiencing pain or any adverse symptoms please consult a medical or allied health professional.