Over the next several weeks and months, DHS Group will feature a few of our friends and partners on the blog, giving readers the opportunity to hear expert advice and experience from leaders across the health, analytics and wellness industries. Today’s blog comes from Kelly Bailey, Certified Personal Trainer and owner of The FitFarm, located outside of Cleveland, Ohio.
You’ve heard it before: sitting is the new smoking. But it’s not the sitting per se that truly causes us trouble. People that stand in one spot all day (i.e. the cashier at the grocery store) also experience musculoskeletal wear and tear, and get little extra benefit from standing versus sitting. The real problem in the modern human lifestyle is not sitting, it’s stillness.
The human body is not designed to be still for hours on end. Biologically, human bodies benefit most from easy walking interspersed with bending, squatting down, picking things up and lifting things overhead. These natural or “functional movements” help move blood and fluid around the body, and work muscles and joints through their entire ranges of motion.
Consider that the typical American commutes an hour to work, sits at a desk for eight hours, commutes back home, exercises for 45 minutes and then sits in front of the TV for two hours. The hope is that the 45 minutes spent exercising will negate twelve hours of being still, but unfortunately, it doesn’t.
Exercise – specifically weight training – is an important part of maintaining strength and muscle, but is only a small piece of the health puzzle. Movements are the non-exercise activities that keep the body moving throughout the day, in a way that it was intended to move.
While quitting your job to become a hunter-gatherer or farmer is likely out of the question, there are things everyone can do to increase their movement, both in and out of the workplace.
In the workplace:
- Fitness trackers are a great start to keeping track of movements that you’re making during the day. If you have one to check, you should be, at minimum, getting 5,000 steps per day and 10,000 is even better. If you are not reaching the minimum, set yourself an attainable goal by trying to add 250 or 500 steps per day until you’re consistently getting at least 5,000 steps.
- Use a standing desk, but alternate between standing and sitting throughout the day.
- Stand up and walk around when talking on the phone or during a conference call.
- Move once per hour: stand up, stretch, do a few squats next to your desk, take a 5-minute walk. Set an hourly timer to remind you to move.
- Wear comfortable shoes that fit your feet well. Nothing creates a barrier to movement like pain.
- Dance (or play) with your kids. This will not only help you move more, but will also deepen bonds with loved ones!
- Take a walk before or after dinner, and if you can, walk outdoors. Walking and being outdoors is proven to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Do a plank during commercial breaks while watching TV.
- Choose to use the second-floor bathroom (if you have one), or do an extra lap around the house on the way to the first floor bathroom.
- Get a dog. Perhaps not an option for everyone, but dogs require as much movement as humans to stay healthy, and for that reason, they make great movement companions and motivators!
Modern society has made it unnecessary to move our bodies in the way nature intended and it’s taking a toll. Creating an environment that invites more movement will help keep our bodies primed and healthy for years to come!
By: Kelly Bailey, CPT
The FitFarm, LLC