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Tips to keep your body active at the office

Have you ever heard the expression “sitting is the new smoking”? This may seem like an exaggeration, but it’s not. Studies show that maintaining a seated posture for long periods can have devastating effects on your health. If you have sore shoulders at the end of the day, a neck that cracks, if your legs are numb or if you notice you’re constipated, it’s time to slip some healthy new habits into your work day!

Read on to learn about some simple actions you can take to keep your body mobile and maintain a healthy body and mind.

The risks of being seated for too long

You might think that sitting down for a long time is relaxing for the body, but it actually involves static (isometric) muscle contractions, as opposed to the dynamic (isotonic) [FR] contractions that occur during movement. Simply put, a prolonged seated posture “stiffens” the muscles. This stiffening reduces blood supply and weakens oxygenation, resulting in cramps, contractures, poor evacuation of waste and even tendon injuries.

In a seated posture, all the back’s deep and surface muscles are engaged, particularly the trapezius, which covers most of the upper back and the posterior of the neck. It plays a role in shoulder movement and the way your head is carried as well as its angle. If you have sore shoulders or a sore back or neck, this is a sure sign that your body needs some relief. Fortunately, a few simple stretches can help you out of this fix!

5 stretches to give your body a break at the office

As we inevitably get drawn into the busy day at the office, we sometimes forget to relax our tension with a few stretches. You might want to try a watch that reminds you when it’s time to move. When the alarm goes off, it’s time for a bit of exercise!

Relax the pelvis

In a seated position, put the two soles of your feet together and hold them in your hands. Breathe deeply to open the thoracic cage, lengthen your spine and move your knees slightly up and down to a beat.

Relieve the fingers and wrists

Take some time to open and close your fingers to release the tension. Then grab the fingers of the left hand with the right and pull them gently, and do the same with the right. To finish off, make circles in the air with the hands to give the wrists a massage.

Release neck and shoulder tension

Drop your chin to your chest and relax your face and jaw. Next, bring the right ear to the right shoulder, then do the same on your left. Finally, put your fingers on your shoulders and make big circles in the air with your elbows.

Gently stretch your sides

Either seated or standing, interlace your fingers above the head and stretch up toward the sky while keeping the spine nice and long. Stretch to the right side then to the left.

Restore mobility to your legs

Seated in your chair, lengthen the right leg and stretch your toes back toward your right knee, then make circles with your foot. Finish by bringing your knee up to your forehead. Do the same on the other side.

BE REMINDED TO MOVE


Bring the gym to the office

Do you find you need a bit of motivation to get moving, or would like to do more than simple stretching? Working out with a packed schedule can be complicated, but fitness courses at work are a great way to get you out of your bubble. There are plenty of businesses that specialize in working out at the office. It just takes a little hunting online to find the right pro for you.

If your office doesn’t have enough free space for yoga, fitness training or Pilates, organize a walk with colleagues during the lunch break. Some companies even suggest their teams hold their meetings while walking, which is a great way to oxygenate the body and relax your mind while staying productive.

Another simple but effective trick is to get off the bus or metro a few stops early or park a little further away and continue on foot: a perfect way to start out your day! The effects of physical activity have an influence not only on your daily quality of life but also on your work performance. Try it out. You may not be able to do without it.

There are plenty of solutions to get your body moving at the office and keep in shape. Proper office ergonomics also affect your fitness. Standing work stations are a new trend that may seem novel, but their results on physical health and productivity are convincing. Also interesting are stability balls to keep the pelvis mobile. Use them as a complement to your chair at the office.

The nine-to-five routine can overwhelm you, but remember that you have just one body, so take care of it. You’ll find that you have more control over your work life too.

GEAR UP!

Chloé Verrier

This article was written in collaboration with Chloé Verrier, a certified yoga instructor. She’s completed 380 hours of training in Hatha yoga, Hatha Flow and Vinyasa and she’s a certified Childbirth Educator. Chloé is passionate about people, movement and the healing power of breath. She teaches at several yoga studios in Montreal.