I was lucky enough to enjoy a holiday at the start of the year, an action packed skiing holiday with the whole family and some great friends.
At the time I noticed not only did I feel a whole lot fitter – possibly because I don’t normally spend six to seven hours a day being very physically active, but also my general aches and pains had melted away including a niggling low back ache that I had had for months.
Better still I felt really mentally fresh and recharged.
All good stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete slob when it comes to “doing the right thing” with exercise. I try to ensure that I do something every day whether it is swimming, walking or both plus some muscle strengthening work. OK I confess, I’m not so good at getting the last one done.
BUT, my biggest problem is that far too often, if I’m not out and about delivering presentations and workshops I will be sitting at my desk, researching, studying and writing.
Which means there are some days where I am sitting at my desk, all day long. Days where afterwards I feel not only cognitively and physically exhausted but a bit stiff and achey from being in one position for too long
“Sitting Disease” is now a well-recognised phenomenon and it is so easy to fall foul of. Many people, by the nature of their work now spend long days in front of a computer screen and keyboard. The consequence is that we often spend longer sitting – perhaps 55-60 hours a week, than we do sleeping in our beds! And it is REALLY bad for our general and brain health.
Prolonged sitting (anything beyond three hours a day!) is associated with reduced pre-frontal cortex function. That means your executive suite that enables you to plan, organise and remember: your thinking, analytical, rational and logical brain isn’t operating as well as it might be.
And because we often stay at our desks longer than we want because we want to meet our dead line, or simply finish a piece of work, we end up cognitively shooting ourselves in the foot.
Worse still, sitting disease effectively negates all the benefit our brain derives from the time we do our physical exercise.
Now before you use this as an excuse to not bother exercising at all, remember that aerobic exercise is THE best workout for your brain because in addition to flooding your brain with extra oxygen and nutrients it stimulates the production of neurochemicals involved in neuronal maintenance and neurogenesis – the birth of new neurons.
The solution is that we HAVE to simply move more, to allow our brains to get the cognitive benefit of all that lovely exercise.
How can you do this?
1. Start with assessing just HOW MUCH time you do spend each day sitting on your bottom. Time to be honest here. Keep a “sitting diary” over a typical week and if its obvious you are sitting more than you are moving, it’s time to do things differently.
2. Look for opportunities to simply move around more.
Starting with how you get to and from work. If you drive, can you sometimes incorporate more walking, cycling into the journey?
3. Organise your work day differently.
If you sit at a desk – you could set the alarm on your phone or computer to remind you to every hour to stand up and stretch or move around for tow to three minutes.
Schedule in your brain breaks so they become part of your normal work routine.
4. Stand up.
Got a phone call to make? Stand to do it.
Organising a meeting? Run it as a stand up affair. Not only do standing meetings tend to be shorter, it keeps everyone focused on the agenda (because you are less easily distracted by texts, and messages) and it’s easier to get to an agreed outcome.
Hooray fewer, boring and waste of time meetings – now that has to be a good thing!
5. Adjust your desk.
If you budget or boss agrees to it, get a desk that has an adjustable height so you can work either standing or sitting.
6. Get yourself a wobble seat. This really works your muscles that have to work hard to keep you stable. They are now designed so as to not allow you to simply “fall off”.
7. Chunk your work time.
Organise your work day so that you do your heavy focused thinking work in shorter bouts of time. Having a deadline works really well to keep you on task and finish more in the allotted time frame. Then you can reward yourself with groovy moving time – a shimmy to the water cooler, coffee station or even outside for 10 minutes of glorious fresh air.
Moving more AND doing physical exercise is the sure fire way to keep your brain working at its very best every day.
Of course enjoying a moving holiday is an excellent top up for your brain as well.
My friend Jodie at Healthy Balance Fitness knows how hard it can be sometimes to fit in the necessary exercise to stay well. Getting to class can be a logistical nightmare or simply not possible, which is why she has put together a brilliant online running program that allows you to get your exercise done and slotted into your schedule.
Running is one of the fastest ways to improve your cardiovascular fitness, endurance and energy and it’s also one of the most accessible forms of exercise. You don’t have to be a ‘natural’ to fall in love with running and gain great benefits. The multi-award winning Healthy Balance Fitness have coached hundreds of self-confessed ‘Non-runners’ to achieve their first 5km event and go on to run much longer distances.
Healthy Balance Fitness are offering our fans and subscribers the chance to join their 10 week Online Running Program for only $38.50! Choose the level to suit you – Beginners, 5km, 10km or 21km. You can train where it suits you, when it suits you.
Learn correct technique, the most efficient training to get results, how to prepare for a fun run, and so much more. You’ll be feeling confident and excited about your new running skills.
Visit http://www.healthybalancefitness.com.au/drjennyfanspecial/ for more information and for the special discount code.
If sitting disease is making your brain sluggish, it’s time to blow away the cobwebs by standing and moving more and going for a run.