Are your shoulders become hunched? Is your breathing shallow? Have your legs all but disappeared from your awareness? When your job requires more sitting than standing - and more brain power than strength - it’s easy to override or miss “request signals” your body sends your way, such as:
• Please get up and stretch • Take me for a walk • I really do need a trip to the bathroom • I’m thirsty • Ahem. I’m hungry. Could you get up out of your chair and feed me? • No! Don’t sit down in front of the computer again. We’re eating and I’d like to enjoy the food. • The sun is shining and it’s beautiful outside. A little vitamin D would be nice. • My muscles are atrophying. Could we use them a bit? • Hello! I’ve got nothing more to give today! Please stop working.
Were you smiling and nodding your head when you read the list? That's good. Now, imagine what is happening to your body if you ignore such signals for days and weeks at a time.
Research published in the journal Health Psychology (Health Psychology: Biological, Psychological, and Sociocultural Perspectives by Margaret K Snooks) found that three 10-minute exercise breaks can boost a person's mood, energy level and focus. Just 10 minutes! I would suggest that similar breaks to nourish your body and handle its normal functions is important, too.
- Stretch deliberately
- Stretch spontaneously
- Look out the window
- Walk around the block
- Eat lunch away from your desk
- Call a friend (you'll probably start stretching and yawning spontaneously)
- Set an alarm for every hour to take a body check break until you do it without thinking
Even if you can't get out and away, you can stretch and move right at your desk. Here's a link to a 2-page publication, Stretch Breaks, showing simple stretching exercises you can do at or near your desk.
Do you hear your body talk or have you been deaf to it? If you do pay attention, what do you do to make sure that your energy remains good throughout the day?