Put your hand up if you’re walking less and sitting at your computer for 8-10 hours during lockdown.
Here are some problems with sitting:
You shorten your hip flexors.
You crush your glutes.
You might cross your legs, which affects the symmetry of your body.
So here are some tips from me to you about how to iron out the kinks!
Earn your coffee
There are mixed reports on how good for you coffee is… But I enjoy it, so here’s how I work it into my day.
From my DNAfit test, I can tell you that I’m a slow caffeine metaboliser and should have less than 2 cups a day. I adhere to this, normally having my first around 8 or 9 am and other before 1 pm. This regime stops it from messing with my sleep too much.
I wake up around 7ish and I try to ensure that my body is naturally awake before I neck that first coffee—90 mins is a good guide.
Where I get really geeky is by making my first coffee an iced cold brew. This is because I try to maintain an eating window* of 10 hours or less and coffee with no milk won’t disrupt that fasting period. (Iced because it tastes less bitter.)
So how do I earn my coffee?
Before coffee, I start my day with a few exercises and ‘a walk to work’, which in lockdown terms, is a walk around the local fields.
*If ‘eating window’ (intermittent fasting) sounds odd to you, check out this clip with Dr. Satchin Panda.
Change your focal point
If you stay looking at your screen for hours on end, you’re spending a lot of time contracting the muscles that focus the lens in your eye. This tires those eye muscles but also means that your lens doesn’t get driven through a range of movement and can get stiff, affecting your vision.
It’s easy to address… Make sure that every 15 minutes you look around the room, taking the time to focus on different objects at different distances from you. Also, gaze off into the distance and focus on nothing—fully relaxing your eye.
This also helps for plane rides. In this instance, you’re even more likely to need this eye routine as you’re almost forced to stare at the screen in front of you.
Stand or move often
I tend to alternate between sitting and using a standing desk. I chose sitting for focused work and standing for calls or activities where I can use just my laptop screen.
In any case, make sure you get up and move around each at least once an hour. I also have stretching exercises that I do, particularly to move the hip around to address the hip flexors and glutes.
Ultrarunner Dean Karnazes used to have an office job, but claims one of the secrets to his lack of injuries can be put down to standing the entire time. He also breaks out and does spontaneous sets of squats or burpees to stay mobile. (Easier if you have a home office.) As you can see here, Dean loves the concept of standing while working.
If you’ve been told that a standing desk will lower your risk of heart disease, that’s most likely nonsense. I agree.
Perform ‘body cogs’
If you follow Dr Rangan Chatterjee or Gary Ward, you’ll have seen these desk jockey workouts.
For body cogs, stand with your back to a wall. Ensure that your bum, shoulders and back of the head make contact with the wall. Then rotate your pelvis forwards, your ribcage backwards and your head forwards—as if they were three cogs arranged on one another.
Here’s a video to explain:
As described by Gary, you’re looking to educate the body that it’s OK to operate in a variety of positions, not just the static fix of sitting. Body cogs are one of the movements I do when taking a break.
Count 30 chimneys
The chances are you spend a lot of time looking down at your phone or laptop. This means that those muscles than run up the back of your neck can get strained over time.
This might sound flippant but as this article mentions, the human head weighs around 10 pounds or 5 kgs. A small head tilt forwards can triple that weight, or more, from the perspective of those supporting muscles.
Counting 30 chimneys is a countermovement to address the bad habit you’re creating.
While you’re out and about, take the time to look up and lock your glaze on a chimney for several seconds. (A lamppost, tree or inflight bird will do just as well.)
As you approach the chimney, look at it with your whole head, so you’re looking up. Alternate looking at chimneys on either side of the road.
Repeat 30 times.
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