Yes, the bane of our lives and one of THE most common causes of the troubles we see. It’s not uncommon for people with physical jobs to think that they’d be much better off with a desk job. But I can assure you I’d much rather be in a physical job than being sat at a desk all day at Norwich United insurance (or Arriba as they’d now be called – if they were real).
Our bodies are designed to move. We’re still, at heart, hunter gatherers. We’ve not evolved a whole lot in the last 10,000 years. Back then, before cars, X-boxes and Starbuckses, we moved around… a lot! Our day consisted of running around hunting stuff, wandering around gathering stuff, sleep and…. not a lot else.
There was some other activity (we had to make other hunter gatherers for example!) but basically that was it. It was a very active lifestyle. It’s been estimated that we’d do at least an hour of vigorous aerobic activity every day and periods of “weight-lifting type” activity regularly each week. Nowadays we drive to work, sit all day, drive home and crash out on the sofa. To be fair most of my patients are different to this and walk the dog, cycle, do the garden and run regularly (not usually all the same person you understand).
The aim of this entry is not to be an all-encompassing treatise on working posture and sedentary ergonomics … rather a quick reminder about a couple of key points relating to activity:
1) Get up and move around regularly. Ideally, every 20 to 30 minutes go for a stroll for a few minutes. Even if you just get up and have a stretch standing in front of your desk, it’d help.
2) Drink lots of water. Yes, I know I bang on about it but it helps to keep you alert and means you have to get up to go to the loo regularly too! I won’t repeat myself too much here – see my other blog about water.
3) Meetings. If you have any control over how they’re run, make sure that those present get up and stretch every half-hour or so. You’ll get so much more out of them. It combats fatigue (and boredom). More alert people get more done. It really will help and don’t let anyone sit-out the stretch breaks.
The key is (as is so often the case) little and often. You’re much better off doing a bit of cardiovascular work every day, even taking the stairs rather than the lift, than you are doing nothing all week and then going berserk at the squash court for 45 minutes once a week. Just a few changes here can bring huge rewards in the long term.