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Is Standing Better than Sitting? Print

How to be healthy and happy working from home 

Guest Post By Tim Borys CEO, FRESH! Wellness Group  

 

a woman with shoulder length blonde hair wearing a light button down shirt and jeans stands at a desk by a window typing on a laptopIf you are a busy parent or professional who has been working from home for over a year now today’s topic is one that will change your life…in a positive way! 

You’ve likely heard the saying “sitting is the new smoking”. Well, I disagree with this statement in an important way.  While definitely not as catchy, I believe the phrase should be edited to read, “the mental and physical health impacts of PROLONGED sitting are just as bad as being a chronic smoker”. 

Sadly, these days we are sitting more than ever. Even worse, sitting is merely the tip of the iceberg. 

 

How Life Has Changed

 

Over the past year, our lives and lifestyles have changed dramatically. You’ve likely experienced many changes in your physical activity, mental health, and daily habits. 

While everyone is experiencing this pandemic from a different perspective, I feel pretty confident saying that for most people, the following is likely true: 

 

  • You are sitting more than you were a year ago 
  • You are exercising less 
  • You spend much more time staring at a screen 
  • Your mood and energy levels have decreased 
  • You are noticing many more aches and pains in your body 
  • If you still have a job, you are probably working more hours each day 
  • You are finding it challenging to separate work and home, particularly if you have kids 

 

While this short list merely scratches the surface of the challenges people are facing in our current pandemic reality, it paints a bleak picture. 

The great news is that whether it seems possible or not, we are in direct control of every one of these points. 

This fact is easily forgotten in the midst of dealing with the multitude of challenges in life, yet by effectively harnessing even one or two of these areas, we tap into the power to dramatically improve our daily outlook and outcomes. 

 

Make Positive Changes

 

Let’s start with sitting. 

These days, many more people are aware of the negative health impacts of sitting. The most common solution is to go buy a standing workstation. While this can be a great addition to your office setup (or you can create your own makeshift one very simply with everyday items around your house – message me for details), it doesn’t solve the root problem. 

 

You see, standing is not the opposite of sitting. MOVEMENT is. 

 

The human body was designed to move. The mental and physical health issues we face each day have little to do with sitting. They have everything to do with the fact that most people move less than a comatose tree sloth. How’s that for a visual? 🙂 

an adorable brown fuzzy tree sloth looking at the camera

Standing does count as movement and will alleviate some of the specific impacts of sitting, but prolonged standing also has its own issues. 

I can already hear you saying…”seriously, if I shouldn’t sit, and shouldn’t stand, how am I supposed to work…at least without lying down!” 

No need to worry. 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with sitting or standing. Both can be great. The issue is with the volume of each, and the way we do them. 

At FRESH!, we aim to help our fitness clients experience that success comes from moving WELL first, and then moving OFTEN.  

 

Proper Body Position for Working

 

With sitting and standing, it’s important to learn how to sit and stand properly, and then transition between those (and other) positions at regular intervals. 

Here are a couple simple images to help you check on your sitting and standing positions. However, remember that even the best position for sitting and standing will only go so far towards improving your health and performance if you fail to move on a regular basis. 

an infographic showing the proper ergonomic sitting and standing position at a workstation

 

Notice that from the up waist up, the standing and sitting postures are essentially the same? This makes it easier to remember the key points. Try out the positions and see how they feel. 

They will likely feel “awkward” at the beginning since your body will be used to something different. The best way to ensure you are in the correct position is to get feedback, corrections, and adjustments from an experienced professional. The great news is that with our current WFH situation, getting professional feedback is easily done via video! 

Now that you are standing and sitting correctly, let’s talk about movement. 

 

Good Movement, Feeling Great

 

More great news…at the fundamental level, as long as you move correctly, the type of movement you do matters less than actually doing it. 

With our corporate clients, we generally focus the first phase of our movement programming on overcoming the specific impacts of prolonged sitting (or standing). This is done by mobilizing immobile tissues, releasing and hydrating “tight” or “restricted” tissues, and activating inactive muscles by practicing strategic movement patterns. 

A fit woman in short blue shorts and a yellow tank top does a mountain stretch with her arms wide on top of a mountainDon’t worry if this sounds complicated, here’s a simple way to think about it… 

If you’ve been sitting for a long time, get as far away from that position as you can and activate your muscles to do so. 

In other words, actively stand up, bring your arms out to the sides, and pull them as far behind you as possible (see mountain image below). By doing this, you activate your legs, butt, core and back while actively stretching (mobilizing) your hips, chest, shoulders, and more. 

 

If you’ve been standing for too long, going in the opposite direction is helpful. Essentially into a deep squat with a rounded back. 

To shorten the process even more, alternate between the two and sequence them with deep belly breathing. These are called “breathing squats” and are a fantastic way to take almost all of the joints in your body through their full range of motion, in only a few seconds. Plus, it allows you to practice your deep diaphragmatic breathing pattern.

Think of it as one of the movement “superfoods” that will help keep your body functioning, and your mind focussed each day. Try them out and let me know what you think.

 

This is just one easy way to keep your body mobile, engaged, and feeling great during the day. 

 

A man wearing black dress pants and a royal blue short sleeve golf shirt demonstrates breathing squats in a series of three photos. In the first he is crouched over, then arms raised in a v above his head, then leaning back slightly

Be Consistent

 

Now, the key is to make sure it happens on a consistent basis. 

Here are several ways to do it. 

  • Set a recurring timer for every 30 minutes (minimum every hour) and do 5-10 of these (should take 20-40 seconds). 
  • Do a few of them between every meeting, before/after each phone call, or some other common task you do throughout the day. 
  • Challenge yourself to do 100 in a day, but no more than 15 at a given time. 

 

A pinterest sized image with text overlay of the blog title of a woman sitting at her desk working late at night at homeThere are millions of options for movement and exercise out there, but remember that the most important thing is to do whatever you do CORRECTLY! 

Seriously, movement and exercise are SO much more than just sweating and burning calories. In fact, exercising and working hard without a proper foundation of movement is a recipe for failure, frustration, and injury. (more about this concept in an upcoming post). 

Effective movement habits are the foundation for harnessing your mindset, energy, motivation, and potential in life. 

Here are some resources to help you on your journey to better health, greater happiness, and more energy every day: 

 

The information is at your fingertips…Now it’s up to you to put this information into action. You’ve got this! 

Want some extra help and accountability? Please reach out. My team and I would love to help. 

  

Tim believes that improved health, happiness and personal performance help us cultivate greatness in our lives and improve the world around us. As a former elite athlete, New York Yankees draft pick, and national level coach, Tim is an expert at eliciting higher performance from individuals and teams. For over 30 years he has helped people and organizations ignite their potential…in work and life. In 2020, he was recognized as one of Canada’s Top Trainers. 

 

Headshot of TIm Borys CEO Fresh Wellness in Calgary

 

Tim is CEO of FRESH! Wellness Group, and author of five books, including “The Fitness Curveball” Series and “Your Work From Home Productivity Handbook”. He can be found @timborys @freshfitcalgary, or through his websites www.freshgroup.cawww.freshfitness.ca,  or www.timborys.com  

  

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