Moving All Day at Your Desk: the How
I’ve done quite a few posts on how important it is to be moving all day – even while at work. From Instagrams of me doing handstands to posts about standing desks, it’s something that I try very hard to keep doing throughout the day. But frankly, it’s sometimes just eluded me.
I’m a computer programmer for my day job. I write code and figure out ways to do things better. It takes a lot of brainpower and a lot of concentration at times. So a very frequent occurrence at my desk is the stereotypical “programmer lost in his own brain” look. I get so focused on my work that I sort of fade out from the rest of the world. And that’s not helpful when you’re trying to keep yourself from locking yourself in one position for hours at a time.
Even if you have a standing desk, you still need to create some variety in your movement throughout the day. Standing all day is only marginally better than sitting all day, While the article here talks about calorie-burning, which we know is only a very small part of the health equation, being static in any position is not great. Moving all day is highly preferable. But you have to stay on top of it.
So what happens if you are stuck sitting/standing all day and you easily get lost in your work?
My key to moving all day: the Pomodoro Timer
If you’ve never heard of Pomodoro, it’s simply a technique where you break your work up into manageable chunks throughout the day. These chunks are 25 minutes long, and between chunks you take a five minute break – with a fifteen minute break after four chunks. There are plenty of Pomodoro Timer apps on both the iTunes and Google Play stores, or you can do your own with the timer on your phone or computer (here’s the one I use). It’s easy to use and it even tracks the number of chunks you get done throughout the day (if you want to track such stuff).
By the way – Pomodoro is a great way to get more work done throughout the day as well, not just for moving all day purposes.
But here’s the kicker – instead of just taking a break and walking around, checking your email, etc. during those five/fifteen minute breaks, it’s time to move! I’ve split my breaks up into two types: I alternate between a five minute deep squat and a quick little routine of stretches and exercises that I got from the book The Urban Monk by Doctor Pedram Shojai.
Then, at the fifteen minute break, I head outside for a walk around the block (after doing the squat or stretch/exercise routine). That makes for almost a perfect fifteen minute regimen.
This way, I’m moving all day and mixing up the position my body is in. The squat is just a great stretch for the lower back, lats, knees, and more. And the exercises can be whatever you feel you need to work on. I’ve got push-ups, squats, split squats, and some basic core stretches in the mix for mine.
This can be used by people out of the office as well – if you’re doing line work and need a quick break once in a while, you can step back and do some of this same stuff.
So take back your movement and get out of the chair with some frequency! You’ll feel much better and be more focused all the time.
I’ll get back to you – my Pomodoro timer app just went off and it’s time move again!