March 8th is International Women’s Day, and on this day we celebrate everything awesome and unique about women!
One of the most special things about women is that they tend to be ‘nurturers’ of those around them. They’re often carers in the form of mothers, grandmothers, sisters or daughters and supportive friends or colleagues of the many people in their community.
And women often feel their greatest sense of satisfaction and worth in giving of themselves to others- they’re time, their listening ear, their advice, their hospitality and their heart.
In our increasingly busy world, however, this selfless commitment to giving and putting other’s needs before their own can take its toll.
Yes, as women we tend to wear many hats and, sadly, the ‘hat of self-care’ is usually donned the least.
The sad reality is that I speak to many women daily who aren’t feeling great about themselves. They find it hard to see, let alone celebrate their amazing qualities amidst their struggle.
They’re often worried about their weight, worried about how stiff and sore they feel, how exhausted and sluggish they feel, worried about the increasing hunch of their shoulders, worried about their health and the little time they have to devote to taking care of themselves.
Does that resonate with you?
Well, I want to encourage you today!
Firstly, I assure you that you are doing a great job.
And secondly, I want to remind you that you can’t help others unless you fit your own oxygen mask first…
While it certainly is tough to prioritise your own physical and mental health when you’ve got deadlines at work, family and social commitments, household chores to get done and hungry kids or pets hounding you…
I’d like you to stop for a second and take a deep breath, then exhale, and read on.
If I told you that you could skyrocket your physical and mental health in just 2 minutes, would you want to know how?
Rest assured that there’s a few simple but strategic things you can sprinkle throughout your day that will
– greatly improve your health (including increase your chances of living longer Ref 2)
– boost your metabolism so you’re far more productive and not gonna gain weight while you sit at your desk
– Stretch and strengthen the right muscles so you’re not feeling so stiff or sore
Be encouraged, equipped and inspired with some time-saving tips on developing healthy work habits.
They will not only help you feel fabulous while you work (even if that’s working at home) but they won’t take much time or effort!
Tip #1 Move for 2 minutes every half hour
Ever wondered why it’s so hard to keep your weight from creeping up?
Well, for anyone that sits for more than 3 hours at a time, there’s scientific evidence (2) that tells us why.
When we sit for more than 1 hour at a time causes biochemical changes to our metabolism that means we start to deposit fats rather than them being metabolised by muscle.
Based on their extensive research Dr Alan Hedge prescribes the ‘gold standard’ for working as 20 mins sitting, 8 mins standing (eg. Raise your sit-stand desk), then 2 mins movement.
That can be hard to achieve, but the good news is…
If you just commit to moving for 2 mins every half hour while you sit, you’re going to reap some big rewards! You’re up to 94% less likely to develop the serious diseases that people who sit for more than 6 hours total a day do (3.).
And if you think you’re reasonably ‘fit’, beware!
Even if you do happen to meet the daily guidelines for physical activity of 30mins of moderate exercise a day, you still need to move as often as everyone else to avoid the increased risk of developing the diseases associated with sitting (heart, lung and kidney disease, diabetes, even cancer).
So the moral of the story is move a little, often!
You might get up for a drink, head to the bathroom, stand up for a phone conversation, talk to your colleague instead of sending an internal email or you can take on board my next recommendation and squeeze the most benefits out of your 2 minutes!
Tip #2 Use your 2 mins wisely to stretch and strengthen your ‘good posture’ muscles
You can easily do some targeted stretches in that will reverse the slouched posture we tend to slump into while we sit (or even while we stand) and stretch and tone muscles we need to use more often!
And you don’t even have to leave your desk to do them.
A couple of simple tips for moving so you switch on your ‘anti-slouching’ muscles are
– Clasping your hands behind your head, lean back over your backrest and stretch your elbows wide to open your chest. Take a deep breath into your lower lungs and as you exhale, draw your shoulder blades together so your elbows stretch a little wider. Repeat x3
– Make a fist with both hands and place them just behind your hips on each side of the chair, thumbs facing front. Keeping your chest up, take some weight through your arms as you try to lift your buttocks off the chair. Only lift as far as comfortable and keep your shoulders back/ chest up. Feel your shoulder blades drawing down and inwards as you hold for up to 10 seconds. Repeat x3
– Pelvic tilting back and forth, by tucking your tailbone under then tilting it up in the air is a great way to keep your low back and hips flexible while you sit. It’s also an inconspicuous way to move and wakeup when you’re stuck in a meeting or commuting!
– Every time you go to stand up or sit down, try adding in a few ‘mini-squats’. When sitting down, ensure your weight is back through your heels and you’re aiming your butt right back in the chair. You might feel as if you’re sticking your butt out, with your tail in the air, but it won’t look that obvious! This just makes sure you use your glut muscles properly to tone your butt and so you don’t overload your knees.
– Keeping a stretchy resistance band handy to do some desk exercises throughout your day is also a great idea! The colourful bands help remind you to move and you’ll get more ‘bang for your buck’ as you can really workout your ‘Anti-slouch’ muscles.
– To grab a free video of my favourite exercises to do with the band at your desk, you can click here
– For some other awesome stretches and exercises you can do at your desk try a free mini ‘workstation workout’ via the link on my website www.kymsiddonsphysio.com.au
These specific stretches and exercises will also skyrocket your productivity as you increase the oxygen levels to your brain and you take a mini mind-break.
Tip #3 Re-position yourself in ‘Perfect Posture’ after your 2mins ‘energiser break’
Follow these basic steps to make sure your posture is perfectly set for the next half hour, until you move again!
– Wiggle your butt right back in the chair
– Lean back on your backrest (Note, your backrest should be reclined slightly by 10-20 degrees if it’s adjustable)
– Bring yourself in as close as possible to your desk, so you can easily type/ work without bringing your back forwards off the backrest.
– Bring your mouse as close as possible to your keyboard.
After a half hour, it’s time to wake your brain and body up by moving 2 minutes again!
I’d love to hear how you go with your new routine of moving more often.
It’s harder than you might think and the minutes fly by quickly so set a timer on your phone or watch until you get used to it.
Just make sure you don’t beat yourself up if you forget or don’t get around to it as often as you’d like. Remember developing healthy habits is an ongoing journey!
Instead, be encouraged knowing that every time you move for 2 minutes you are doing more than you would have otherwise and taking small steps to improve your health and wellbeing!
Many women feel more energised, more confident in themselves and their posture, notice better muscle tone and far less stiff and sore when they’ve been using these tips regularly.
I hope you reap those rewards too!
1. Patel AV, Bernstein L, Deka A, Spencer Feigelson H, Campbell PT, Gapstur SM, Colditz GA, Thun MJ (2010) Leisure time spent sitting in relation to total mortality in a prospective cohort of US adults. American Journal of Epidemiology https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/172/4/419/85345
2. Buckley, J.P., Hedge, A., Yates, T., Copeland, RJ, Loosemore, M., Hamer, M., Bradley, G., Dunstan, D.W. (2015) The sedentary office: a growing case for change towards better health and productivity. Expert statement commissioned by Public Health England and the Active Working Community Interest Company, British Journal of Sports Medicine, BJSM Online First, published on June 1, 2015 as 10.1136/bjsports-2015-094618.
3. Neville Owen1, Geneviève N Healy1,2, Charles E. Matthews3, and David W. Dunstan2 Too Much Sitting: The Population-Health Science of Sedentary Behavior (2010) Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2010 July ; 38(3): 105–113