I'm lucky that my profession (as an osteopath) means that I move regularly throughout the day - sometimes lifting heavy things and sometimes getting a little out of breath. Even during a clinc treatment session though, I make sure I move myself well when examining a patient - I can do a couple of squats in correct form while I am checking lumbar movement and pelvic levels. While mobilising a hip joint for instance I'll make sure I move my own body correctly, with good posture and activating my core muscles. And then I get to run through rehab exercises with the patient. If I'm really lucky I can manage all my bodyweight exercises during regular clinic!
Those of you who have a physical based job shouldn't need to do separate work outs at all, even if you have an injury you are needing to rehabilitate - you may just need to enhance the way you do a task to make sure you are activating your core muscles, using the required muscles and moving your body with great form.
However, some days are devoted to paperwork or working on the computer, writing this post for example! And once I start working at the computer, I tend to continue all day and into the night if I'm not careful. Especially if I'm working on the website or researching an article. The sun comes up and goes down and my husband goes to bed and I'm still there intent on my laptop. And this is when I end up with pain. The next day, my thumbs will hurt from using the keyboard, my back is stiff from sitting too long, my shoulder will ache a little.
Of course if I've had a heavy day at work in clinic or the horses have been a bit playful;) or a good morning skiing then the next day I will have sore muscles. Interestingly though, although the muscles may be tender to the touch and a bit stiff to move, I will generally feel pretty good. But the aches and pains that come after many hours at the keyboard are different - niggly, tense, uncomfortable, definitely not invigorating even though I may feel the satisfaction of having completed the task (finally!).
So what do I do to incorporate movement into a desk-work (or sofa work), computer based day?
1. Set limits.
The best way is to move everytime you finish a task. So sort out your email inbox, open the mail, complete your daily regular office tasks, write a letter, blog post, read a journal article, complete a spreadsheet, take a phone call.
Of course some tasks take longer than others or have a habit of blending into the next so you may need to break up the tasks or set a timer on your phone or desktop to alert you at least once an hour.
One of my usual ways is that my laptop battery gives out after about an hour and a half so that really cuts me off!
2. How long?
One to five minutes every hour is all it needs.
You could simply move to another related task - do some filing or going to the printer (if its in another part of your office or home), check the post box, take the rubbish out, make a drink or snack, tidy up a little, play with the cat, look at the view out of your window, do a mini workout.
While you are doing these things, move your body actively. Straighten your posture, wriggle your shoulders and back, be aware of your core muscles - do a few tummy tightenings (see..), breathe fully.
If possible take your shoes off (and even your socks if socially acceptable and warm enough!) while in your office or at your workstation. Being able to move your feet and toes regularly and freely keeps your circulation stimulated and promotes your whole body - mind connections. Ideally, walk around without your shoes to gain barefoot benefits.
Regular movement throughout the day has been shown to be more beneficial than being static all day and then doing a bout of an hours intense workout.
It stimulates the circulation so is good for your heart and lungs
Activates the different muscle and joint receptors to keep your musculoskeletal system toned and secure
Stimulates and relaxes your mind, keeps you in the present and allows creative stimulus to flow (I planned this post while taking a break to brush my hair out!)