Your workout shouldn’t end when you get to the office. A recent study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that “prolonged sedentary time was independently associated with deleterious health outcomes regardless of physical activity.” For peak health, in other words, you need to move. Constantly.
“Your body requires low-grade movement throughout the entire day for basic biological function,” says Katy Bowman, a biomechanist and author of Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement. “It has almost nothing to do with athletic performance—it has to do with your body’s circulation and feeding its cells.” Try these five strategies for a more mobile day.
Little movements and stretches, done continually throughout the day, are the most beneficial. Use a rolled up yoga mat to stretch your lower calves and foot tendons while standing and talking on the phone. Or sit on the edge of your chair with your left foot on the floor. Place your right ankle on your knee to stretch your piriformis, a muscle deep in your hip. Switch legs throughout the day.
Just dangling from a door-frame-mounted chin-up bar for one minute every hour will reverse some of the effects of sitting.
Apps like Move (iOS; free) remind you to take an active break at various intervals during your day. Ten push-ups here and 20 squats there provide an entirely different set of benefits than a one-hour, high-intensity workout at the end of the day.
Walk and Talk
Save up four or five work phone calls and make them all on a walk around the office neighborhood. Or ask your 2 p.m. meeting to join you on a stroll instead of in the conference room. Walking for just two minutes every half-hour can make a huge difference to your arterial health.
When you’re forced to sit for sustained periods, there’s no need to stay in your chair with your hips at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor. Sit cross-legged on the ground or move from the couch to the desk every hour to break up your body’s geometry.